Thursday, September 29, 2011

Working Girls

I did it for 40 years of my life.

I got up at an ungodly hour, drank coffee, and got ready for work. When I wasn't working, I was thinking about work.

What on earth was the point of that? Oh, wait! The same thing that I think they will put on my tombstone: She Needed The Money.

I went to work two weeks following my high school graduation. (I had worked part-time gigs in high school, but it was now time for the big leagues.) I was hired by an insurance company and it was an amazing job. I got to sort mail and push a cart down long dark hallways and deliver the mail to different offices. The office was located in San Francisco's financial district. It was really fun, challenging and great for the first week, then I got the cart and my hand stuck somehow in an elevator door. I went home early because of my bruised hand.

I never went back. I decided I would rather face death by firing squad. Bad enough, I had to tell my mother. My decision didn't please her at all. (In our family, you graduated from high school and you were on your own. Oh, you could live at home, but, you worked and you paid rent too.) I was 17, but by today's standards, I might as well have been 27. I was grown with responsibilities. I quickly got another job and this one was more to my liking.

I worked for the Emporium Capwell Department store and I sold first fine china and then housewares. This was a fun place to work. There was a really cute store detective named Ed and he was pretty old but I sort of liked him. Ed was probably 25 or so and when he asked me out, I was thrilled. He took me to dinner and bought me two martinis. When Ed took me home after a couple of hours at his place to look at his etchings, (I mean examine his gun), he nearly had a heart attack when I told him I wouldn't be 18 for another 4 months. Sheesh!

Ed more or less avoided me for the next 3 months. Right before I turned 18, I got another job at different insurance company office. This time I was a file clerk. (I know, it really pays to aim high.) We worked on Worker's Comp stuff and it was actually pretty interesting. Plus, unlike the first insurance firm where the average age for employees was about 60, everyone at this place was young! I met and moved in with some girls from the office who were looking for another housemate.

I celebrated my 18th birthday living in a downtown apartment with 3 other girls. We worked hard all week and went to parties on weekends. The only challenging part was not starving to death. Life was good!

I met my first husband at my next job. We married right after I turned 19. We got a really nice apartment and I found a job at Sears selling linoleum flooring. Uh, yeah, that was a problem for me because I can't do math, plus, I didn't know the first thing about flooring. I worked there for two months and didn't make a sale at all. I was bored and found another exciting job as an instructor in a health club. I also took in ironing for extra money. I probably would have gotten a paper route too if I had thought of it.

I've walked dogs, arranged major events, written proposals, designed presentations, and groomed the presenters. I've prepared press releases, wined and dined clients, and taught English. I've also ghost written term papers, prepared resumes, and helped people get their US citizenship.

Frequently, I've done these things concurrently while going to college at night and working full time while raising my two children as a mostly single parent.

I think it was probably all very hard, but it was also very good. I've seen most of the US on various business trips and met a lot of really fascinating people.

If push comes to shove, I am very adept at supporting myself and that's a good thing.

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