I was working a manual labor job right out of high school to convince myself that I needed to go to college for some reason, and since I "knew about compooters", I weaseled my way into the technical documents library. I convinced my boss to let me digitize everything and write a search engine. He let me expense Teach Yourself Perl In 21 Days, and I spent the next week writing the first web application (and first bit of custom app development period) that this company had ever undertaken. 10 years later, our flagship CMS is written in perl, the old search engine is still running, and dot net is looming over me. Still, we had a good run.
in reply to What was the bait (project, problem or opportunity) that hooked you on Perl?