ME: Mornin’ (taking out my earbuds).
INTERVIEWER: Good morning. Mind if I walk with you and ask you some questions?
ME: You’re welcome to come along. And I’ll answer questions, too, but I have to tell you that I’m not a very interesting person. I’m not rich or famous or important or anything like that. My life has been pretty mundane, so I don’t know…..
INTERVIEWER: You let me decide that. Let’s see…..I know you are a senior citizen, since this is a senior apartment complex we’re walking in. But are you employed or are you retired?
ME: I retired in 2000 when I turned 65. We, my husband and I, chose this area because three of our six children lived within a short driving distance. Funny thing, within 5 years one family moved to Alaska, and another moved to Tennessee (although she ultimately came back). I always thought I would be at home in a semi-rural area; I’ve learned I’m much more of a city girl than I thought.
INTERVIEWER: Were you gainfully employed before you retired?
ME: That’s hard to say. I didn’t have a career if that’s what you mean. The last six years of my working life I was the Administrative Secretary for The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Anaheim, California. That was after we came home from the two year hiatus my husband spent as a consultant in Istanbul. Before that, for the most part I worked through a temporary agency as a secretary. I didn’t much like secretarial work, although I was good at it. But I did like to work on a temporary basis. The nice thing about temporary work is that if you are good, you get immediate gratification! The company is always happy to get someone who knows what they are doing and they can’t praise you enough. I most always was approached to see if I’d like a permanent position, but for me the draw of temporary work was that I never had a chance to get bored. If the job wasn’t right up my alley, then I could move on. The reason I did this was so that I would have some free time to work on my avocation – genealogical research! I had the best of two worlds! I was lucky that my husband had a nice career so I was able to do this. If I had been the sole support of a family (which for a while I was) temping wouldn’t have worked.
INTERVIEWER: What was the most interesting job you went out on?
ME: Well, the oddest job I ever took was a short stint at a company that manufactured smells. The most interesting was one where I did medical transcription for a company whose owners investigated medical malpractice claims. I worked there for a long time as a temp, and finally went on a permanent part-time basis with them – two weeks on and two weeks off. It was a great job, and I only left it because of my husband’s job offer in Turkey that of course we couldn’t refuse!
INTERVIEWER: Have you had an embarrassing moment on a job?
ME: Only one, and it happened to be so funny that if it were possible you would have heard laughter from Pomona (where I worked) to New York City (where the person I was talking to on the phone was sitting.) I won’t tell you what was so funny, but my words got tangled up worse than an old telephone operator’s switchboard lines, and take my word for it, the result was beyond hysterical, way beyond embarassing!
INTERVIEWER: Hmmm. Was it bad?
ME: Bad? Not bad, but not repeatable either. Just hysterically and embarrassingly funny.
INTERVIEWER: OK, I’ll let you off the hook. Is it safe to ask you what is the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done?
ME: I’d have to say it was having the book I researched and compiled, “A FINE PLACE TO REST: AMERICANS IN THE PROTESTANT CEMETERY IN FERIKOY ISTANBUL,” accepted into the Library of Congress. I spent the two years in Turkey doing local research and then when we came home I spent an additional three years working on the book here in the states, even making one trip to the College Park, Maryland branch of the National Archives to find the original state department records. After it was printed in 1998 I queried the Library of Congress as to their policy on accepting books. They said to send a copy and after it was evaluated they would let me know if it met their criteria for accession. If not, they said they would not be able to return the copy. So I submitted it with a letter that stated I understood and agreed, but if they didn’t want the book to please donate it to a local library. I didn’t want all that work to end up in the dumpster. I’m pleased to say that it was accepted, making me very, very happy. I am still getting e-mails from people who have “found” a lost relative in that cemetery due to my research. It’s been very rewarding.
INTERVIEWER: Good! Now, what don’t you like to do?
ME: Don’t laugh. I don’t like to do anything that has to be done. I’d rather someone else did it. Dishes, dusting, cooking, scrubbing out bathtubs and toilets….well, I guess what that is saying is I don’t like to do housework. It’s a shame I can’t afford a maid. I’d be SO happy. But let me tell you this: I am lucky to have Jerry for a husband, because he is the exact opposite. He’s neat and tidy and does his chores without a complaint (unlike me!)
INTERVIEWER: Between you and me, I feel the same way about housework! But let me ask you one last question…… Oh, look, we’re back home again. We’ll save that question for some other time. Thanks for talking to me.
ME: My pleasure!