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I have been reminded of so much through the postings of Sparkel18 and cjmurano. I began to think about the decision that led me down that path and the memories began to flood.
I was a senior in college and living at home. Things were not going well. I had earlier dropped out of college to work full time almost two years which put me behind my friends who had already graduated. My younger sister had recently gotten married and left home. It was a difficult time for my parents who were headed for a divorce and I was trying to stay away from home as much as possible. I had recently been pinned to someone else living at home and had become great friends with his parents and spent some nights at his house, which made things even more difficult with my mother, who did not approve to say the least. My father was paying my tuition and a small monthly “allowance” in return for my doing his bookkeeping which my mother had done in the past. Looking back this was a part of the problem.
At school things were going well and I didn’t want to drop out again but it was obvious something had to happen. The city college I was attending had been formed to provide classes for people who had full time jobs, therefore most all classes could be taken at night. They also had an office that would help students find work. I’d had many part time jobs all during my time there but at the time my only job was for my father. So I paid the placement office a visit.
They had a job posted at the hospital two blocks away from the college and one block away from the parking lot. It listed the hours as 8:00 to 4:30. The night classes began at 5:15, plenty of time to walk the two blocks and get a bite to eat before class. It seemed perfect. As a journalism major, the job was listed as being in Public Relations, also perfect. The Placement Office made an appointment for me that same afternoon, which was Wednesday.
I reported to the Personnel Department at the appointed time and was given the paperwork to fill out and a typing test. Now, I know how to type but I taught myself and the idea of being tested sends me into an anxiety attack that I’ve never been able to get over, which means I do not do well on tests. I almost walked out the door right then, but I took the test before I was sent in to have the personal interview, which was with a very stern-faced older woman (probably in her 50’s as she retired while I was working there).
She never mentioned the job in Public Relations, but sent me to the Purchasing Department. As far as I know that was pure chance. I was interviewed by another woman there and she explained what the job would consist of which included typing purchase orders and keeping the records on 5 x 8” index cards in addition to filing, opening the mail, answering the phone and other usual office duties. At that time there were three clerks, the Purchasing Agent (male) and the Asst. Purchasing Agent (female) who did the entire purchasing for the 900-bed metro hospital and the 100-bed private hospital a block away.
I had barely gotten home when the phone was ringing and I was offered the job. They wanted me to begin on Monday. I hadn’t thought about getting a job on the first day I was looking and there was still two weeks before the end of the quarter and I was taking day classes, although they were all in the morning except for an art class that only met two days a week but was for two hours each. They said they would work around my schedule until the end of the quarter, so I reported for duty at noon the following Monday.
I later learned that the woman who interviewed me recognized me immediately. She had been the best friend of the mother of the boy I had been engaged to while a senior in high school and a freshman in college and the reason I had taken that 2-year break. I don’t know that we had ever met but she knew that her friend had thought well of me. She only told me this at the time of my first promotion when she told me that her friend had been right.
I thought this would be a temporary job until I finished college. I never finished college and I stayed there for almost 18 years.
Now, how does this tie into those other postings I mentioned? First, cjmurano was talking about the old data processing departments and the old equipment. That department was next door to Purchasing and we could hear the clanking of the machines when things were not going well. The department was headed by a a little Cuban who reverted to Spanish when he got upset, which happened at least once a day. He was barely 5’ tall and would climb up on a desk to yell at all the key punch operators that he blamed for everything. At that point all the key punch operators (all female) would leave the office and let him rant. Sometimes the other clerks and I would watch the show through the glass windows in the double doors leading to that department and watch him actually throw those cards like they were confetti. It was also necessary in those days for the equipment to be held at a temperature of about 60 degrees, which meant we were always cold in our office too.
The first real promotion I got was as a Buyer and my area was in office supplies and equipment. These were the days when the whole computer technology was growing so much and the entire hospital was gradually becoming computerized. All those printed forms fell in my area. I worked with all the departments of the hospital designing multipart forms the size of the old tabulating cards but with all the new codes on them. Between the department and the printer and the Data Processing Department, some of them took months to get correct, but they all finally worked. There ended up over sixty different forms as they still had to be the size of the old tabulating card and you can only cram so much written material on a card that size and still have it readable without a magnifying glass. The Blood Bank alone had five different forms.
I remember the day the IBM salesman came in to show me what they were working on as the computers they thought would replace the typewriters we were using. I couldn’t visualize how those would be an improvement. It’s hard to think that was only 30 years ago.