Home > Life and Writing, Life Is Messy > Day 8: Day Jobs and Living Up to Your Image

Day 8: Day Jobs and Living Up to Your Image


Today is Day 8 of the MAGIC UP YOUR BLOG Challenge! If you’d like to join the party, go here: http://bit.ly/1oO4JB4  It’s not too late, just start where we are today!


Today is all about working. Your favorite day job, your least favorite day job, your first job, and what it taught you about “working” … anything about working. Let me preface this with the fact that I’ve been working from home for the last five years, and while it can be scary, and I have to rely on the dogs for my belly laugh of the day, it really is wonderful.


I pretty much saw myself as the female rebel without a cause in my youth. The cigarette always hanging from my lips, anti-establishment, anti-authority – I would never knuckle under to the ‘man,’ I would never allow myself to give up my ideals, do the 9-5 route for my whole life, yada, yada, yada.

I was going to be a writer, hopefully a paperback writer, even before it was glorified by the Beatles. But I had to experience life in a big way first. I knew writers had to live hard to write authentically. So first I had to stop living with Mom and Dad! I announced to my parents I was dropping out of college and would marry my boyfriend once I saved up enough money for a car and a wedding.

I contacted the mother of one of my dorm friends, who got me an interview for a proofreading position on a small town newspaper, and got hired. I started riding the public bus to a job two towns away. Now that was an experience, as was rubbing elbows with the pressmen in the back of the shop.They taught me how to swear.

Long story short, I stayed there two years, during which time I got married, met one of my role models, woke up to the reality of rent, groceries and utility bills, bought my first used car, and got laid off when the paper sang its swan song. That’s newspaper speak for there was no money left and they closed the doors in the middle of production.

So I moved on to another small newspaper. It was a different time. Workers were still smoking at their desks. Type was set in what was called computerized cold-type galleys, and I had already been trained on the previous job. So I entered this job with experience. Now comes the interesting part.

The typeroom was an unsupervised mess at this paper. People came and went pretty much when they felt like it, and the same employees got stuck staying late to cover editorial, page production, and ad insertions. I was one of them. Day after day, I would type my fingers off, while some typesetters turned off their equipment, cleaned up their desks and filed their nails waiting for hubby to pick them up. There was one other typesetter who would stay with me, but she had very young children. So if it looked like a late night, I would tell her to go home and I would cover. One day I’d had enough.

I marched into the G.M.’s office, closed the door, and said,
“I need to talk to you. We have a real situation in the typeroom.”

I proceeded to verbally vomit a couple of years of frustration without naming names. But I’m pretty sure he had a good picture of who I was talking about. He listened attentively, took a few notes (I didn’t think enough, though). When I finished, he sat quietly looking at me for about a minute, and I thought I was a goner. I mentally prepared all the reasons why he shouldn’t fire me.

He said, “OK. You are now the Typeroom Supervisor. Go clean up your department.” He turned back to his paperwork.

My mouth fell open. I may have drooled. Something was very wrong. I’m the rebel, remember? See my cigarette? I have even been known to drink a bit, and I hate authority. He couldn’t do this to me. He couldn’t make me an authority figure. This was worse than firing me. Firing would have fit my imaginary bad-girl persona. I needed experiences, not authority.

He looked back up at me. “Don’t worry. I’ll issue a memo telling everyone I promoted you. You’ll get a raise probably next month. Anything else?”

You can’t do this. I don’t have seniority, Marie does. She’s much more qualified than I am, and has worked hard for the paper. She deserves it.” I don’t know where that came from, but it was true.

He asked if I had talked this over with Marie. I shook my head no. He called her extension and asked her to come in, which made me feel better. The door opened.

Marie, how would you feel about sharing a position with Linda here? You would both be supervisors of the typeroom, and work staggered shifts so a supervisor is available at all production times. Comments? Discussion?”

Marie and I looked at each other. “This was your idea?” she asked me. I shook my head no again.

The G.M. spoke up. “Linda has brought a few problems to my attention. That’s what supervisors and managers do. She feels you have the experience, but I feel she has the management skills. Together you’re a perfect duo. Decide how you’ll get the department under control, and we’ll meet again in a week or so.” This time he looked at me. “Anything else?” he asked.

Again I shook my head in the negative. That was one of the very few times in my life I was at a loss for words. My image was blown. My life was a mess. I was becoming the ‘man.’

  1. August 8, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    I loved this. Your words drew me in and kept me reading! Thank you for sharing it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      Thank you, Carrie. That’s a big compliment coming from you. And thank you for commenting.


  2. August 8, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    Ha Ha, I can’t help laughing at the Rebel being at such a loss for words and having to walk away having just become the authority figure she’s rebelling against. It’s hard when reality smacks you in the face.
    I’m so looking forward to more in the series.
    ps. I so enjoyed being able to smoke at my desk.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      Oh, David, didn’t we all. A friend, who was my last creative director, kept at me to watch Mad Men when it first came on TV. I kept saying “why should we watch? We lived it!” In the agencies, they kept us working overtime by bringing in food and alcohol, so we often smoked and drank at our desks. But the computers were protected in a closed, climate-protected room. (Oh, not sure if you’ve ever heard of Mad Men! It was a U.S. TV show about New York advertising agencies in the 60s+.) I knew you would get a chuckle at my rebel period!

      Liked by 1 person

      • August 9, 2014 at 3:45 PM

        Not heard of Mad Men but will look out for it. You notice I’m quiet about me own rebellious period. ha.xxx Mega Hugs xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  3. August 8, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    love your writing…I got lost in that and by the end I was actually wondering if this really happened or a great story. You write so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      Thank you, Mary. I meant to say somewhere that this was a true story. I often found myself in strange predicaments because there was always something cooking in my brain that came out my mouth. This happened before I found myself sitting on the late great actor Robert Mitchum’s lap in Darien, Connecticut. But that’s another story.


  4. August 9, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    Great story! He was a brilliant manager, talk about delegate the problem. So funny. I loved the way you drew us in with your writing style. I loved being able to smoke at my desk too. Those were the days…

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      Thanks, Andrea! I never would have admitted it then, but despite the rumors about how he got his position (rumors were always rampant in newspaper work), I did respect him because he made quick decisions, stuck by them, and listened to his employees. The paper definitely grew under his watch. And yes, those were the days of more freedom, even if what we did was bad for us!


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