The company I work for has a brand new office building downtown. I don’t work in the building yet, but I took an employee shuttle there to check it out. One of the fancy new lobbies uses conveyor belt wheels and axles as decoration.
These wheels and axles are nearly identical to the ones fabricated at the conveyor belt factory where I worked as a customer service rep nearly 20 years ago. We manufactured conveyors for shipping and fulfillment centers. I worked the phones mostly, taking orders and forwarding leads to our four sales reps scattered across the US.
That job sucked and I was a terrible employee, abusing my fax machine privileges to send out flyers and press releases for my band. But it got me out of debt, and it was also where I first encountered the “real” internet.
My office was among the first to replace its aging AS/400 terminals with actual PCs running Windows 95, and it was decided that my PC would have a modem installed so the company could get email for the first time. I never saw a single email arrive, but I did eventually click on the globe icon labeled “Internet” during a boring moment.
I spent a few weeks view-sourcing web pages at lunchtime and reading Dummies books (“The Internet For…”, “HTML 3.2 For…” and so on), before quitting and starting down a whole new career path, one that would over the course of two decades lead me here, to this city, to this building, to these very familiar wheels. I don’t believe in fate or luck, but every so often the Universe teases me with a bit of serendipity. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if they hadn’t installed that modem.