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Wednesday
Jul032013

1999

At some point I had broken my ankle. I won't repeat the story because I KNOW that i've told that story too many times by now. Suffice it to say .. it was healing and in a boot. I had crutches still though I remember that. So maybe it was a short cast at that point. Either way I was living in this studio apartment on the top floor of an apartment (low income) building right near downtown. I remember liking how thick the walls were and being on the top floor - hearing nothing of the neighbors. I did, however, heard a lot of ambulances. My window faced towards the city and there was an ambulance route maybe 2 blocks from our building. Also in the front of our building (which my window faced) downstairs was a convience store and a karoake club. So it could get quite loud. It was still an awesome place.

One room and filled with hand me down things. An old dentist chair, some oak coffee table that was nice and wide, big enough for a bunch of random things. A serviceable full bed and a OK tv. The walls were adorned with pictures and posters. I had a collage of pictures (mostly from NH and college) in the shape of the United States in the hallway. I had a Knicks basketball net which I seriously used quite often. I also had a e-machine PC that I had recorded my first couple albums on. I would record the very first of them there (Pioneer 10) and use some of the sounds outside my window on a track. 

I was there (just barely making it money wise - from savings?) and went to interview at a place I had been avoiding because I heard they didn't treat their workers good ... amazon.com.

It was a temporary job position and I heard that the warehouse workers weren't in the best situations, but this job was for an office thing. I remember limping in .. putting down my crutches and waiting for an interview. I sat next to this girl (Amy) who I would later go on to be friends with. We were actually interviewing for the same role (luckily they had a couple positions to fill, and spoiler they would hire us both). It was a contract job and yet it also felt kinda special. I saw the familiar cubicles (but smaller...super cramped quarters) and people typing away on computers. Felt a bit claustorphobic but also excited. 

I was told they could use me for about 4-6 months, with no gaurantee of an extension. I took it.

My first desk at amazon was a half desk. That is to say it was partly taken up by a pillar. The desk seemed to be shortened to fit the pillar (which was obviously more important than my desk). I had a monocrhome monitor and basically used tera term (unix) and my main job was to push Y or N. I was manually going through customer reviews and deeming them worthy or not. We had a non-biased criteria of course. If the review was all !'s (example: Britney Spears - Baby One More Time. Customer Review: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Britney!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

then we were able to delete it. I would push my N and it would be gone. If the review was about how awesome the singer or author was it was out of there. But if the review made sense I got to press Y. That was my first job at amazon.com.

Later on I would learn other facets of my job (catalog department) and then went to ask my manager to teach me other stuff. I was comfortable with computers and all sorts of data entry, detailed data management. I basically learned above and beyond my role there and then interviewed for a full time job in about 6 months. I got it and was hired into the little beehive of internet innovators. 

The building was a small little broken down building across from the fish market. It had homeless people in the alleyways (which is fine -- but not when they are using it as their bathroom), and was so small that a single office often had 3-4 people in them. And of course, I still had my half desk. 

We had a great bunch of people in catalog, all making jokes and pulling pranks on each other. A cramped but great environment. I started managing data within music catalog and early work with DVD. Amazon was still primarily books and music then, and we were just adding the concept of DVD. BMV was the term. Books, Music, Video. 

After working there pretty seriously for awhile I decided to move in with my girlfirend at the time (in queen anne), and got to still walk to work. We had a cat that was wild and jumped off the walls. 

During the day I worked with digital/internet stuff and then went home and recorded music. Looking at my electric guitar and amp in the living room I knew I would have to get a rehersal space at some point. The seed planted of being in a band and doing loud music ... and it would sprout, just not yet.