Monday, March 19, 2007


In early '05, I was hunting for a good full-time job. I applied at a couple employment agencies. Manpower called me one morning and told me that there was an opening at IBM in Rochester. It paid quite well, was part-time, but could turn into full-time. I sat with one of the ladies who worked in that department and felt that the job would probably be a good fit for me. It took a couple weeks for the paperwork to go through, but I was finally hired a few weeks later. The department was called Consult Line. Businesses would call and be connected to our department when the server issues they were having went above and beyond what their IBM warranty covered. Once the business in question signed the Consult Line contract, we would look for technicians who had the skill and the time to help them.

One of the ladies I worked with named Kitty (meow...) was in her 50's and had a major thing for Clay Aiken.

Every day, she would go to the Claymates web site to see what was new with the sexy boy. Her enthusiasm for him was so strong that I feigned interest in him myself (I do like his song, "Invisible", however). She had a Clay calendar posted in her cubicle and frequently listened to his CD's during office hours. When people on the website would mention that Clay was probably gay, she always said, "Oh, he just hasn't found the right woman yet". I would turn my head and roll my eyes on such occasions.

I was actually hired because Kitty was moving with her hubby to Raleigh, North Carolina (Clay's hometown) to be closer to her own personal, her husband was tranferring there (he worked for IBM as well) and they had always wanted to live near the Smoky Mountains.

I started working about 20 hours a week, supplementing it with a job at a research company where we called people and asked them to participate in surveys (big-time fun!). IBM was really anal about disposing of all papers that had any kind of customer information on them. When in doubt on something, the best thing to do was to shred it (Enron might still be around if it had had this policy in place). IBM had a website (called the Blue pages) that listed all the people that worked there along with their pictures. Some of the programmers liked to play around with their profile, however. I remember Kitty was looking for some consultant and when she opened up his info, instead of a picture of him, it had the guy's name next to a picture of Krusty the Clown.

I laughed, but Kitty said such manipulation of images was against corporate policy.

A few weeks later, Kitty left for the greener pastures of Carolina. I was given more hours and started working some 8-hour days. During my lunch break, I would take a 40-minute walk around the neighborhood (the building I worked in was just adjacent to a residential 'hood). I would listen to my CD player and enjoy the time out in the sun. Our offices were also right next to the Apollo Dental Center. It was great walking over there for my appointment and then walking right back to work. Al Gore would've been proud of me :)

The IBM job was the first one in which I was able to listen to the radio on my computer. On most days, I would listen to 80's music or soft rock. Almost every freakin' day, I would hear the 80's classic, "Send Me an Angel". I'm not complaining, though. I love that song. So New Wavy...

My boss's name was Bob Zella. A fifty-something, he was a great guy, courteous and kind to all. He was totally oldschool, too. He had a ham radio at home, one of his favorite movies was the 50's classic, "War of the Worlds", and one of his usernames was setiman (a reference to the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence organization). He was one of the best bosses I ever had.

Every few days, we would get a crit-sit call. You know what that means? It's short for a critical situation. This would be when some company was having a major issue with their server which was affecting their business dramatically. We had to really hustle when dealing with those.

The job had a decent amount of downtime. One afternoon, I was looking for information on a college residence hall in Winona that I had spent time in. I found a link that led to a web journal written by a guy who had gone to Winona State and was now living in Rochester. His blog was called Rambling Rhodes and is the first that I ever read.

Bob Zeller regularly told me that Consult Line wasn't as profitable as it had been in years past. These conversations led me to believe it was quite possible that my job would go bye-bye in the near future. In August of '05, I got the news that Consult Line was moving all its operations to Dallas (Bob would stay on as manager of it). I was not surprised and made the best of it. I had to settle for a job at Charter in September, but the IBM job did allow me to save a pretty decent amount of money.

Mr. Z was recently told that his services were no longer needed at IBM. This happened just two months before what would've been his 30th anniversary (which would've meant lots more retirement monies for him) working for the company. He accepted it with grace, though. We all know that IBM is a cold-hearted former shell of what it once was.

Time magazine sent me a notice a few weeks ago letting me know that if I renewed my subscription, I could give a free one-year subscription to anyone I wanted.

I couldn't think of anyone who would be interested in the mag until I remembered Mr. Z (now retired). I put his name down and sent the form in. It's the least I could do for one of the very best.


~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

That was a pretty interesting read. One of my mother's friend's husband works for IBM...or did at any rate...he started way back in the day before most people had even thought about owning their own home computer.

Rocketstar said...

Nice gesture. You really do love to walk, Gore would be proud.