It was the early nineties and there were only two computers in the whole office. I had one that I used to type letters and resumes and the accountant had the other one. There was no e-mail and no internet. That meant that when people were bored they came to the front desk to chat with the receptionist. Since I also answered all their phone calls, I knew everyone's secrets. I knew who was taking Prozac, whose kid was about to be suspended for getting caught smoking pot, whose wife was having an affair, who was looking for a new job and who had a boyfriend and a girlfriend.
The only problem was the pay. I barely made enough to pay my rent and make my student loan payments. If I needed new shoes or groceries, I had to dip into my savings. After about a year, I had enough of the "fun job" and wanted a job where I used my brain. Beside, by then everyone had a computer and e-mail, so the front desk chit chats were less frequent. The thing about head hunters though, is they have lots of connections.
They helped me land a great job in the Human Resources department of our local trash and recycling company. It doesn't sound very glamorous, but the work was interesting and the pay was decent. At least the offices were across the highway from the landfill so the smell wasn't too bad. There were only four people in the HR department: myself, another twenty-something woman who was a single mom, the head of HR and his assistant. The head of HR was an ex-military guy who ran things very much like me was still in the army. He insisted everyone in the department call him Mr. Duncan* and treated us more like minions than co-workers. He sat in his office with the door closed a lot, so we had a lot of time to make wise cracks about Mr. Duncan behind his back. I stuck it out for a little over a year, but decided to quit when I realized the company was run by a bunch of old boys, and I had enough of Mr. Duncan.
After that I worked a few temporary jobs. I spent a week giving handwriting samples for a tech company working on handwriting recognition software, various phone answering jobs and even taught preschool for a short time. One temp job I had was for a big ice cream company in the East Bay. My job was to input entries for a contest into their database. The contest was to come up with a new ice cream flavor and the five winners got a trip to their factory to create the flavor and vie for the grand prize. I spent two weeks there entering people's ice cream flavor ideas. The most popular flavor idea sent in was some sort of combination of chocolate and raspberries. I had a great time there and they even offered me a full time job. I turned it down though because of the commute. But the real reason was that they kept their kitchen stocked with all kinds of ice cream that employees could help themselves to anytime they wanted. I knew having unlimited access to all that ice cream would lead to very bad things for me.
I ended up getting a job at an investment bank. Things were good. It was an interesting job with lots of perks. It was the dot com boom, so there was always a new and exciting deal going on. The head of the company would come around with a beer cart on Friday afternoons. I worked with smart people who knew how to celebrate success. I also met a guy at the company Christmas party and we started dating. After that young guy and I decided to move in together I decided to look for another job. Living together and working together was getting to be a bit much. I spent four years there and walked away with some great work experience and a husband!
My next job was at a management consulting firm. I didn't work as a consultant, but had a job that I loved behind the scenes. Not only were my co-workers smart, they were genuinely nice people. It was a fantastic place to work. People respected each other and they didn't just talk about new ways to do things. If someone had a good idea, they implemented it and gave it a try. Men were given paternity leave and new mothers had the option of flexible hours when they returned from maternity leave. The kitchen was stocked with healthy snacks as well as cookies and soda. I truly enjoyed my job. I worked there for 6 years before I left after the birth of Lolly and Frostine.
I still keep in touch with most of the people I worked with there. I miss the office, my job and the free snacks. I haven't worked in an office for the past six years. People often ask me if I plan to go back to work at some point. I really don't know. Right now it doesn't make any sense for our family. Especially with Mr. Mint on the road so often. I have been feeling that pull for something more in my life, but I am not sure what. Right now, blogging fills the void. I loved my previous job, but not enough to give up time with my kids. If/when I do go back to work, I have no idea what path my career would take. Going back to an office job after spending six years making bottles, doing dishes and watching Diego scares the daylights out of me. I figure I will know when the time is right and maybe my sister and I will open the housewares store we always talk about.
What do you love about your job? What do you hate about it? What do you think makes a job great? Inquiring minds want to know.
*Not his real name