(Thanks to r/nostalgia for this.)

I used to work for Gateway Computers as phone tech support. (Technically, it was a call center and Gateway was just the client, as is normal for those situations; but all the training and branding was real!)

In the early 90s, we had a “Hewlett-Packard” office in a mini-mall on the edge of town (long before they were called HP). After they sold the space or moved their offices, a low-end call center sprung up in it’s place. Gateway was one of the premiere clients, and having already having call center experience, I was a shoe-in.

Years later, Gateway sold their brand to eMachines! After a brief stint at Best Buy (where I quickly determined that stocking shelves was not my passion), the same call center brought on eMachines as a client, and I found myself working there again.

Fast forward to 2013 or 2014; I had just completed a year contract with a Microsoft Partner doing Dynamics CRM integrations, and after a summer of living off savings, the holidays were approaching and I needed a job — ASAP. I had a friend who was on the fence about applying there, so I promised I would apply if he did. 7am online application, 9am automated competency test, 11am phone interview, 3pm interview, and by 5pm I was once again working as an L1 call center agent — for Geek Squad.

(The paper quiz for the interview had a question: “Name 3 versions of the Windows Operating System”. I replied with “Windows 3.11 for Workgroups, Windows ME, and Windows 10 RC”. I got marked all 3 as incorrect.)

Our job was simply to get the users’ issue clearly described, and connect their computer to a remote session; which was then transferred overseas for fulfillment. By this time in my career, I cared little for the petty bourgeois dictators of the call center life, with their “you can’t bring your ukulele on the floor” and “your break is from exactly 2:37-2:52pm”; as such, I answered the phone “This is Special Agent Owen” instead of the standard “Agent Owen”, and I rarely transferred anyone, as I could fix their issues quickly and thoroughly myself.

After a long 3 months there, I gave my 2 weeks and promptly found a job as a Support Manager for a small, PHP-based development team. Best. Decision. Ever.