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Thursday, November 15, 2007
Blast From The Past...
...It's funny when you start talking about your work war stories with co-workers. Sometimes you find out the most interesting things about them, or you remember something about your own past work experience.

I was working at the white board the other night with the guys trying to figure out the right way to create a point scale for rankings when I mentioned that I once worked at Onsale (the old OnSale that merged with Egghead years ago; not the one currently housed at One of the guys was surprised and impressed – he had been a customer years ago in his late teens.

So we're talking and it reminded me of the story of when I was interviewing with them which I then told them...

I was desperate to get out of the place that I was working at, which produced those interesting triangular conference phones. I was willing to sell my working soul to customer service as a way of getting my foot in the door at a dot-com and figured that I could move around once I got there. I didn't know how right I was about that.

I showed up for the interview and talked with the manager and assistant manager of customer service. Then I was shown to a terminal and had to write my answers to a couple of actual customer letters that they had already dealt with but wanted to put in front of me to see how I handled the letters from a grammatical and service standpoint. That and I was interviewing for an email representative position – this was the true test of what I could and couldn't do.

The first email was a complimentary email and that was easy to work with. The second one was a minor complaint about something on the website – also easy. It was the third one that was a bit of a challenge.

It was a customer letter from my DH complaining about a vendor that had shipped him the wrong monitor. A letter that had been answered and not necessarily in a satisfactory manner. I almost fell out of my chair and had a small moment of conscience – do I tell them that they've given me my husband's letter (that I helped him write) or do I simply answer it. Knowing what I knew, and desperate to get a new job because we were buying our house at the same time I had already tendered my resignation with the previous company, I answered the letter.

They called me while I driving home to offer me the position. Did I feel guilty? No, not really. Should I have? Probably. I recall DH thinking that it was funny at the time. I thought so too, and decided that I was going to fess up to them about the letter. I wasn't going to do it on the first day though – that was going to be challenging enough with all the paperwork and such. I was right about that. They had enough problems with loading my computer and losing my email halfway through the day. Oh, and my desk fell apart too – that's why we had to recover my computer. It physically crashed.

The second day wasn't going to be the day either because the manager of customer service cleaned out his desk on the second day and quit. He'd gotten a job as the manager of customer service for a large networking company. My email quit working and crashed again, and it was a very colorful day. An auspicious beginning. And I decided telling them on the second day wasn't a good idea.

So then came the third day. I was called to meet with the CFO who had reviewed my resume and such and decided he wanted to talk to me. Apparently he and I had gone to the same college (he graduated the year I was born) and he wanted to talk with me and the now-acting manager of customer service. We needed a logistics and operations group and apparently this acting manager was going to run it. That was news to her. After 15 minutes of talking about our old alma mater, the CFO told me I was the second employee in this new group. I asked him if it was because of my logistics experience at the last job (trade shows and the like in marketing) or because of our graduating from the same school. He told me to figure it out.

That's when I admitted that the third email that I had answered – that they had been quite impressed with – was DH's. The CFO insisted that the CEO needed to hear that story and that's how I met the CEO and made an impression on him. It's funny how these things work out sometimes...

... especially when it was DH that found the company in the first place and said “Hey, they're hiring!”