Despite my two part-time jobs and Colleen sporadically working as a housekeeper and dog groomer, we still needed my student loans to stay above the poverty line. So I took a third job posted on campus for a network tech out in the near suburbs. Hermann Marketing provided whitelabel services selling branded merchandise; if you ordered a nice jacket or briefcase from the company store for employees, we were the ones that printed the catalog, answered the phone, and fulfilled the order. We even ran physical stores for some big clients, including Apple. I bought a lot of rejected-by-Steve merch from our warehouse clearance sales.
I started as a lackey helping trace unmapped network lines through ceilings and install system updates on the Creative department’s Macs. Eventually, I moved to the help desk which also supported the operations of some very old-school systems. The call center still used dumb terminals multiplexed to a VAX cluster, and one of my tasks was to update the ZIP code data by loading a tape reel delivered by USPS into a drive within the size of a mini-fridge.
I worked there almost every moment I wasn’t in class during business hours; I arranged my class schedule to optimize. Apple Partners let me continue my work with them on weekends and I worked in the computer labs in the evenings. I wore a tie to Hermann Marketing on Monday through Thursday.
At the start of 1996 I would join the programming team full-time. I quit Apple Partners and the lab work at SLU, and prioritized work over classes by taking as many evening classes as I could.