And so we begin in 2003. After a wandering year after graduation, I was semi-settled in an apartment in New Brunswick, NJ as an Inside Sales Rep at a software reseller. I was in a long on-again, off-again relationship with a truly wonderful and inspiring guy. Truly. I can’t for the life of me tell you why we could never make it work, but we couldn’t. We lacked something and love certainly wasn’t what was missing. The job was pretty fresh and exciting, mostly because the median employee age was maybe 22 and it was like high school over again. I worked in the federal government/academic sector of inside sales from 9:30-6:30 am but I had put myself on a waiting list to work 11:00 am-8:00 pm. I was very young and didn’t wake up before 9:00 am so it seemed like a good time to work. Life went on this way. I had super awesome roommates. I had new friends. Anxiety levels were at zero. For years, actually. The boyfriend situation wasn’t ideal, but like I said and cannot say enough, we were young and stupid. He was beautiful. We fought constantly. We may have been in and out of crushes with other people at this time. It’s all a bit hazy, to be honest. There is a lot of overlap in my romantic past. There were sequels. Trilogies, even.
Two months after this new chapter in my life – the new job, new apartment, new friends, everything changed. A nice young man in another department got in a verbal fight with a nice older man in purchasing. I wasn’t there – this is all hearsay. The nice older man in purchasing had ties with Human Resources and the nice young man in the other department was politely asked to leave the company. He worked 11:00 am-8:00 pm for some high stress accounts. Something had to be done. I was minding my own business a building away when some important people came up to my desk and stared at me intimidatingly for a few minutes, but this was how things were done here. Put a little fear in their hearts, management says. There was some whispering with my boss of the time. I was asked to pack my things and join a young woman standing there – she was to be my new boss – because I was getting my 11:00 am – 8:00 pm slot. I asked if there was any choice in the matter because I had grown quite comfortable in the federal government/academic sector. They shook their heads. I was a bit dismayed, I must admit. I don’t like change. I sucked it up, packed my things, wrote a few complaining emails to my training class friends and went to the new building. That’s when I first stumbled across the rabbit hole I was about to fall into. For life, it seems.
So I had a new boss and a new partner and two new outside sales reps to work with – one scared the daylights out of me and the other one barely talked to me at all. I don’t know if she even knew what a computer was. My outside sales reps were in Texas (she wound up being amazing) and California (I never actually spoke to her at all, to this day), hence the later hours so I could be on my customers’ normal business schedule. I think “Clueless in California” lasted maybe a week or two as my sales rep before she quit the company. We had a few email interactions during those short weeks in which she asked me to work on one of her clients, ILM. That stands for Industrial Light & Magic and is a George Lucas company. As in Star Wars. As in, the excitement and toy/cereal/light-up saber thingies from my early childhood. I was stoked. Beyond.
To say I went above and beyond for them would be putting it mildly. I enjoyed them immensely even though our conversations mainly consisted of them sending me email requests for quotes, me sending back a quote in record kiss-a** time, them turning it back into a purchase order in record time, and me placing the order with purchasing. There were four ILM employees that I “talked” with by email. From what I could tell, it was two men and two women, all nice. I talked a lot with one of the “women,” Her name was Cassidy. I assumed “she” was a she because I knew a Cassidy growing up and that Cassidy was a she. We only had email to work with so my information was limited. I liked “her” a whole bunch. She was cool and casual and spoke to me like a friend and a real person, quite unlike other clients. It wasn’t long before my account partner turned to me one day and said something really magical:
“Did I just hear you say “she” when referring to Cassidy Bowman? Cassidy is a dude. He called here once. He sounds just like Kevin (accounting rep). Totally a dude.”
My eyes lit up and I begged for more info. It was music to my ears. Even then, so early on, so new to my accounts, still working with “Clueless in California,” unaware of the genders of my clients. I *knew* something special right from the start. Can’t tell you how, can’t tell you why, but I swear it to the grave. I *knew* something was special…
Stay tuned for scenes from the next episode: Cassidy is not a woman! Not a woman!!! And other surprises.
I wrote 20 parts to this story in 2012. Here’s a link to take you to all 20 parts, HERE.