his is the next installment in an ongoing series where I talk about my history in business, starting all the way back when I was a child to now, my mid-forties. I already wrote part “zero” right here and part one here, so you should read those first if you haven’t yet to get some context.
I was 14 years old when we last left off…
By the time I was about 14 years old, my dad had bravely quit his job from the state and started his own mental health counseling firm. After a few rough years, he was scraping by with a few employees in a small, run-down office, and I was very excited to hear that he was going to purchase a computer for his employees to use. This was a big deal back in 1985; computers were brand new and very exciting.
I begged and pleaded with him to let me go into his office to work on his computers, doing data entry or anything else he needed, and to pay me whatever he thought was fair.
He initially said no, but I keep pushing him as hard as I could, to the point where I really pissed him off. He was a stressed-out Alpha Male 1.0 with a short temper who disliked working in his business. He didn’t like to be bothered. Eventually he said yes when his office lady said that she could use the help entering all the client files into the computer.
To keep things sane, he put her in charge of me instead of himself. Her name was Rebecca and she was very nice. I forget what he paid me per hour, but it wasn’t very much. I worked a few hours per week.
His office was all the way downtown and we lived way out in the suburbs. Being only 14, I had no car and no drivers license, and there was nothing like Uber back then. My dad refused to drive me to his office and my mom was too busy with my other siblings, so I reluctantly took the bus downtown every day I worked even though it took damn near an entire hour each way. I would often walk to the bus stop right after school.
Once at the office, I would sit in a tiny desk and enter in gigantic stacks of client forms into his very cheap Dbase III database, staring at a yellow monochrome screen for hours at a time, late into the night, after all the other employees had left for the evening. (School was out at 3pm so I didn’t get into the office until 4pm at the earliest.)
It was boring, grueling work (as grueling as office work can be, that is; I realize manual labor would have been worse) but I didn’t care. I wanted to make money and I wanted to learn computers. They were super exciting and I knew they were the future. I started to learn how to type faster. I took a keyboarding class at night to learn how to touch type (type without looking at the keys, which was a very rare skill for teenagers back in the 1980s). Whenever the computer consultant came into the office to fix a computer problem, I would corner him, pelt him with questions, and take written notes. I bought several books on DOS, Quattro, Dbase, and other software programs that were common back then and devoured them.
I worked there for about two or three years, working about ten hours a week. During that time, Rebecca became so distraught at working with my dad, who was a horrible boss, that she quit one day and just walked out. Suddenly, I had no boss. My dad eventually hired another office manager, a nice woman named Dee Ann.
While working there, I made numerous stupid teenager mistakes, and my dad would get furious and fire me… three times. I say three times because once he calmed down, he would just re-hire me again a few days later once he calmed down. (Ah, the joys of having an Alpha Male 1.0 father.)
Eventually, he had enough staff to the point where he didn’t need me anymore, so he “laid me off” for the final time. He did it very nicely. “I know you can make more money somewhere else anyway,” he said. He was right.
Now 18 years old and a senior in high school, my class was setting up a student company and were taking interviews for the president of the company. I knew I could learn some good business skills that way, so I leapt at the chance even though I was getting Ds in most of my classes.
I made it to the three finalists; two popular kids and me. The three of us were privately interviewed by a panel of three adults. To my surprise, they selected me as president. The student company was comprised of about 25 kids, and when I walked into that room as their “president” they were all confused since most of them had no idea who I was. I wasn’t a nerd or an outcast, but I wasn’t popular. They expected one of the popular kids to be president. (So did I.)
We went on to sell plastic mugs with the high school’s logo on them. We all worked on that for about six months, and we sold a lot, but I don’t think we made a profit (but I honestly don’t remember; maybe we did). I was given several mini business manuals and kept copies of all of them for my notes in case I needed them later.
1990 rolled around, my high school time had ended, and it was time to move the hell out of my parents’ house at age 18. I got along with my parents, but I hated living with them and putting up with their rules. I needed freedom. That meant I needed money.
It was time to get a “real” full-time job.
To be continued.
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Are you going to be in the next RedMan Discussion Group, by Rollo Tomassi, Et al.?
Typo: which was very skill. should be: which was a very rare skill.
How dare you! I touch type at 222 wpm and it’s very skill, you insensitive clod!
Not the next one, but one of them. I’m emailing with them now. Rollo and I will both be at the 21 Convention in Orlando in October too.
Nice! I’ll make sure to book my trip. Would be cool seeing you guys in person.
LMAO wow. Did you even finish high school, Caleb? Back when I finished high school you needed a grade point average of at least 2, I was at 2.75 or some number like that.
Reading about this just makes me feel like I wasted my youth. Really sucks being thrown down the path of “just go to college. Everything will be perfect after college.” I mean it was really fun but a giant waste of time.
I didnt get a computer until 1997. We luckily had typing class in junior high at the same time. Typing was the only skill I learned from public school that actually proved useful.
Why were your grades so bad?
Did you play any of the DOS games back then Caleb, like Leisure Suit Larry, SimCity, Oregon Trail, Civilization 1, Maniac Mansion, & Prince of Persia?
I finished all four years and I didn’t drop out, but I never graduated because I was one credit short of graduation. My mom was furious but I didn’t care.
I knew that most of the the crap the teachers were teaching me would not help me make money or be successful in real life, and I was right. So instead of doing homework I read business books or improved my computer skills.
Most of school after the fifth grade is a complete waste of your time.
No, I was focused on Commodore 64 back then instead, since the games were better at that time than DOS games. I didn’t start playing games on IBM PCs until they got much more powerful in the early 90s and could actually compete with computers like the 64.
Haha that’s pretty savage. My dad threatened to disown me if I didn’t finish high school, the prick that he was. There were so many times where I just wanted to drop out and get my GED the next day.
Looking back that’s actually quite accurate. You learn pretty much all the fundamentals and the ability to gather and analyze information after grade school ends. I do remember complaining in junior high and high school that most of the material is repeated over and over.
I’d say that after junior high, all of school becomes a massive waste of time. Much better to drop out ASAP, get a GED and get job. If I had a kid that’s what I would tell him/her.
I would disagree about high school. There’s a lot you learn in it that’s counterintuitive (and applicable to real life) that you don’t learn pre-high school and that most people are very unlikely to go learn independently. As just one example – I repeat, it’s one example that doesn’t represent the whole of what you miss when you skip high school – , being unfamiliar with basic probabilities, + logs and exponentials, is a huge handicap for any smart person who deals with job/ social/ ideological situations smarter than room temperature. These people are, in a way, mentally handicapped by those basic tools they missed. Post-high school, I completely agree, but not before. So many people are judging issues like fucking jackasses because they lack these basic mental instruments that you’re still very likely to miss even you’re “well read” as an autodidact.
Incorrect. That’s your Pakistani/Indian “worship of education” Societal Programming talking. I have no idea how to do logs and only have a very rudimentary knowledge of exponentials, and yet I was making six figures starting from nothing by age 27 in the computer field.
I could have taken no math classes during high school (including Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry) and it would not have affected my success in any way whatsoever in the computer field and in the business arena. As a matter of fact, the two Algebra classes are the two classes I failed (got an F). Didn’t harm me at all.
If you’re going into an engineering field, then I agree. Other than that, the vast majority of the shit you learn in high school is an utter waste of time and the entire thing can be skipped provided you go right into the work world like I did.
Okay lol. For the record, I’m from further to the west than India or Pakistan. Like, waaaay over beyond Suez, and a lil way further still 😛 but I get the point.
I guess I measure the relevance of education based on a few more factors than the resulting income, but yes, that could be SP, or an egghead personality.