I worked for 6 years in e-commerce as a data communications phone-jockey, surviving the dot-com bust, several re-orgs, and post 9/11 layoffs.
I now code Perl professionally for the e-commerce group of a local power company. No, the blackout wasn't my fault.
I found this site in late 2001, after I had set up Auterytech.com as a vanity site. The writings of merlyn, tye, and tilly, and the book by davorg, "Data Munging with Perl", helped me understand some of Perl's finer points, as well as improve my overall coding practices.
Using what I learned, I made a few re-writes of my site until I was happy with it. Now the scripts that run my site have been published on Sourceforge as "atengine", and they're really, *really* bad as a package. I keep meaning to go update everything, but I always find something better to do.
Anyway, Perl was this fun thing I played with, and I eventually started incorporating it into my job to do simple tasks like Telnet to a router, get the ip nat table, count the duplicates, and keep a historical archive. Eventually admins started coming to me to ask if I'd write them a quick script to do thus-and-so.
After about a year of that and me talking about coding and such on my web page, the job offers started coming. Most of them were looking to pay me less than I was already making, or were headhunters trying to bill themselves as something else. I eventually said yes to a good offer, and now I'm gleefully working in Unix and Perl heaven. I get paid to do those things I tried to steal away time for in the past.
There's no doubt about it, life is better with Perl.