I Know How This Ends!


In 1991, I worked for a temp agency along with my best friend. He and I both got assigned to work at AOL. Customers had the choice of either renewing their credit cards online or calling a human. My buddy and I were two of the humans. There was a giant LED “scoreboard” on the wall letting us know how long an average call was and how long an average caller had to wait. One person busting ass really could make a difference in the daily score. It was kind of… fun. I know, a CS pit, fun, crazy talk.

Hell, the COMPANY was kind of fun. 2:00 PM on Fridays there was free alcohol in a “conference” room. I use quotes, because it’s been fifteen years and I’m only sort of sure that there was a foosball table in there as opposed to a conference table. The free alcohol wasn’t just beer, oh no. Wine coolers were also available. And it wasn’t the kind of forced merriment you run into at a company where morale is tanking and attendance is mandatory. It was actually fun. And people who owned most of the company would hang out with the adolescent credit card renewal temps without the usual air of “look how cool we are, rapping with The Target Audience.”

So as the summer ended, someone wearing the business casual outfit that had not yet become de rigueur came to see me. (Remember, this was northern Virginia, just outside DC, in 1991 – until AOL, everyone here was a government contractor and wearing a suit or possibly a military uniform… and for women, makeup was not only required but the lack thereof could get you terminated from an otherwise lousy job, not that I’m bitter or anything. Anyway, a grown man wearing no tie and sneakers was sort of shocking.) He asked if I’d be interested in staying on full time. The money wouldn’t be GREAT, but I could have shares of the company. He said I’d own half of them right off, and I’d own the rest after a year.

I said thank you, but no – I’m going to go to college before I join the workforce full time.

I did, too. Majored in theater. Art minor. Not art history or conservation, art.

This is how I learned to laugh when the joke was on me.



  1. Retina said,

    December 5, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    Wow, flashback city. I’m 40 next year, been through this a few times already and it’s still funny. I’ve been an outsider on all of it by choice.

  2. Aoladari said,

    December 6, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Hubby used to work at AOL back in the day and I get to hear about the types of parties they threw. There was the Halloween where one chick came in wearing a thong, cape and bra/skimpy shirt complete with Zorro mask. There was the Christmas Party where AOL had a Tux rental place come to the worksite and measure guys for Tuxes to wear to the party (and maybe paid for them, I can’t remember).

    It also wasn’t uncommon for hubby to be laying down on the floor under his desk because he was out all night partying, and yet still providing customer service on the floor. He’d work 10 hours and do it all over again that night too. Oh and go to college classes somewhere in there. /boggle

  3. Sue said,

    December 6, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    Heh. I worked there from ’96 to 2006. The beer bashes greatly decreased after the AOL-TW merger. I do miss the old days. Had no idea you’d been there, too. There was a great sense of community back in the old Westwood Center days 😉

  4. Dan said,

    March 2, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Our company is a very large financial company, on overtime days its not unusual to see the beer cart fully loaded going around. Our Quarterly meetings have watermellon and vodka among other types of beverages served. Kegs are pretty standard. This is current and today.

    And yes, the parties are in the afternoon so we drink then drive home from work.

  5. Dan said,

    March 2, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Before anyone who reads this flips out. Company will pay a cab ride home for anyone at any company function. Its petty regular standard when alchol and today’s business world meets.

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