Saturday, November 6, 2010


No, I never wielded a hammer, followed a set of blueprints or wore a hard hat (though once I considered getting a pair of Doc Martin's that would make me look like a really hard worker). No, I worked a lot, but not at that kind of a job.

My mother had programmed into me that I should learn to type and always keep up those skills, because they were always good for a job. I had a quick flirt at one point in college with a desire to be a social worker, but that affair ended shortly after I chose to marry and have babies. So as mom predicted, typing it turned out to be when the nest emptied.

For the first few years I held actual secretarial jobs. I'll say basically from 1972 to 1985 I was a secretary, a good one. Once I started into genealogy and realized
there was more to life than sitting at a typewriter, I chose to list with a temp agency and go out on various assignments. I'd try to find a two or three week job, and then take a couple of weeks off to do some research. It worked out well for the most part. But I did have some strange jobs in those years that I was doing this. I thought I'd share a few of them with you today.

I was paid by the temp agency at top secretary wages, even though often times the job I was hired to do was nothing more than scut work.

Once I was sent to a company who needed some photocopying done. Little did I know that for three days I'd spend my 8 hours in front of the photocopy machine. I was loathe to renege on a commitment, so I simply had to convince myself that if they wanted to pay that kind of money to use me as a clerk, then I'd just have to make sure that I got the job done quickly. I was like the "mad xeroxer" -- wild hair flying while my hands shovelled single pieces of paper, one after the other, into a stupid machine. I did finish the job but certainly never took a job there again!

Another time I was sent to the accounting department of a small local firm. I do not remember the circumstances but at the lunch break the 10 or so employees, whose boss was out of town that day, left me sitting in the department while they went into an adjacent break room and had a pot and sex party. I called my temp agency and said I was leaving and why. I guess I was just a prude.

Once I was asked if I was afraid of sitting in an empty building. It seemed that a four-story vacant commercial building in Newport Beach was empty but realtors would be showing prospects through at various times during the next two days. They asked the agency to provide someone who could sit at the main reception desk all day and just "be there" so they could leave the building unlocked for the real estate agents. I took the job because they said I could bring anything I needed to keep myself entertained for the day. I got paid to do lots of reading and knitting!

Once I worked at a company that manufactured smells. They wanted me to go permanent with them, but I just couldn't get excited over the product.

I worked several times at hospitals. Once was in the records department - an interesting department, I thought, but my specific job was to tear and separate duplicate copies of computer printouts that would go into the patient files. Again, it was just not a very good job for a secretary, and certainly not interesting! Another time I was in an accounts receivable department sending dun letters to former patients. Yet another time I worked for the speech and hearing department of a hospital, where I got to watch a speech evalutation on a fellow who was born with only a partial tongue. Now that was interesting. I worked for a company in their sales department where the reps their detailed heart valve replacements to doctors. I also spent a week at a medical company that performed amniocentesis on pregant women.

My favorite job, and one that I ultimately went permanent with, was for an insurance company where I did medical transcriptions of interviews with doctors who were being sued. Talk about fascinating!

There were many many more jobs in that time, some good, some bad, some boring, some fascinating. I did this for about 6 years. Sometimes the job was a good fit; sometimes it wasn't. But I will say, I was rarely bored. And when I was, I knew that it would soon be coming to an end. I knew something else more interesting would soon come up. It always did.

But I never had to work with a hammer and a blueprint!

1 comment:

marciamayo said...

I love reading about the work people do and have done. Yours was great, especially the sex and pot party. I'm glad you quit that one.