The year was 1993.
I was 150 pounds lighter, 16 years younger and fresh out of college with a degree that doesn’t guarantee a big income. You see, I went to school for mass communications, and before I wasted those four years of my life spent hating my professors, I wish someone would have told me that there wasn’t any money to be made in radio. If I knew that, I probably would have pursued my other career objective of becoming a proctologist. But alas, graduation came and I needed a job.
A friend of my sister happened to be in the human resources department of Commonwealth Telephone Company (now Frontier Communications) in Dallas, PA. She manged to get me in for an interview for a customer service position in the company’s cable television division. I landed the $8.50 an hour job and the rest is history.
After spending a year fielding calls from people complaining that their cable was out or the pay-per-view porn movie wasn’t working, I applied for an open position in the technical support department of the company’s newly formed Internet Service Provider (ISP), epix.
I went from complaints about cable television to helping people configure their 28k modem to connect to this new thing called the world wide web. There was no Netscape, Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. We still were running Microsoft Windows 3.1 and the “Internet” was basically pages of text, but it was a start.
Knowing that there was somewhat of a future for this new technology, I started toying with the idea of selling product online. Not to bore you with the story you have heard over and over about how I traveled on this crazy road of success, but it was during the time spent at epix that I launched one of the very first eCommerce stores and learned about the technology behind the Internet.
In between taking tech support calls, I was building a website, adding products, hard coding HTML and playing around with a very primitive “shopping cart” that was nothing like the carts of today. At lunch and after work I would go and order product to fill the orders and get them shipped out.
There were only four or five of us in the epix division in ’94, but with the growth of the Internet, the group grew pretty large before I finally left the company in 1999. After moving up from support, I had various other roles within the company, the last one being a Sales Engineer. One of the folks I worked pretty close with was Carl Fedak.
Carl joined the division in the support department and like me moved up the ranks. When Commonwealth was sold to Frontier the epix brand was killed along with the positions of many people I had the pleasure of working with over the years, including Carl’s. He applied for a job at Solid Cactus and has been with the company for a few years now and today spends his working hours as an account manager in the call center.
When I visited the Wilkes-Barre PA Call Center yesterday for their holiday luncheon, Carl surprised me with a gift that brought back a few memories. There was a lot of promotional merchandise which bore the epix name over the years. I still have a beach towel, the shirts and sweatshirts I had are long gone and I had plenty of coffee mugs, but I can’t remember ever having one of the baseball hats that Carl wrapped up and gave me for Christmas.
Thanks for bringing back some memories, Carl!