September 30, 2012

Sharing Memories (Week 40): First Full Time Job and Getting Fired

Welcome to Week 40 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey for 2012.   I hope you'll join in writing your memoirs and childhood memories for your descendants.

If you are just joining us, please take a peek at almost 150 prompts by clicking on the Sharing Memories tab at the top of Olive Tree Genealogy blog. You can jump in at any time and you can skip topics that you don't like. There are no rules, it's all about getting your memories down on paper. The prompts are here as a guide to help if you are stuck for ideas.

What was your first full-time job? I don't mean summer work as a student or baby-sitting after school or part-time work. I mean full-time, your first "real" job as an independent adult. How old were you? Where did you live - alone? At home? With friends or family?

I was 19 years old and living in the big city of Toronto Ontario. I lived with my mother's elderly unmarried cousin on the outskirts of the city. I don't remember how I found this job or submitting an application but somehow I managed to get myself hired as an assistant bookkeeper to the Chief Accountant for a huge Canada-wide Mortgage Company.

It was very exciting as I worked in a huge office building right in the heart of downtown Toronto. Mind you it took almost 2 hours to get to work, and several changes from bus to streetcar to subway to get there but I was 19 and full of energy and adrenalin and excitement.

Lorine in a mini-skirt
My desk was in a large room with dozens of other desks. My trainer was an older unmarried woman who took an immediate dislike to me. Or maybe it was to my mini-skirts and dresses in lime green and hot orange and other bright funky colours! In any case, she didn't bother to hide her distaste and her disapproval. That didn't make my job much fun but I tried my best to ignore her.

It didn't take long on the job before I was the official coffee girl. Every morning around 10 am I left the building and took a short walk to a nearby cafe where I placed the order for coffees and danishes for about a dozen executives. I actually enjoyed it as it got me out of the office and away from the glare of my trainer!

Next they decided I would fill in at lunch for the receptionist. I liked that too as I got to answer the phones. There was a huge bank of flashing lights with names and numbers beside them and a phone cradled on the left. A light would flash when the phone rang, I'd answer then I'd put the caller on hold while I pushed the appropriate button for whatever executive or secretary the caller wanted.

IBM Keypunch Machine & Operator
Then I was chosen to go for training at IBM as a Keypunch Operator. I didn't enjoy that at all. I wanted to work with the newly popular computers but I didn't want to sort cards on a machine!

After 6 months my job consisted of keeping the ledgers for my boss, the Chief Accountant, plus coffee girl, plus noon hour receptionist plus payroll for all the Canadian offices! I had to walk to another building about 2 blocks away to sit in a horrible dingy little cupboard to use my keypunch machine to track all the employees Canada-wide and fill out their payroll cards.

I hated it! And I didn't have enough hours in the day to complete my assigned tasks. I'd go in early, around 8 am (which meant leaving my cousin's home at 6 am), work all day without a break, take a quick nibble of a sandwich around 6 pm then work until 11 or midnight. Then I'd head home.  Being pretty naive, I complained to my boss. Repeatedly. I foolishly thought the company would relieve me of some duties or they'd hire another person to help. My boss informed me the company wasn't pleased at all the overtime I was submitting and that my job began at 9 and ended at 5. And I better get the work done in that allotted time.

But I kept complaining that I couldn't do it, and I soon found out that the person who complains constantly gets the boot. After another few months, my boss called me into his office and told me I was fired. I was stunned!

Later I found out that the company hired two girls to take my place - a separate one for payroll and keypunching and one for my original position of assistant bookkepper/coffee girl/part-time receptionist.

At first I was devastated - fired! How could I ever hold my head up? But eventually I realized it probably all came down to his trusted second hand disliking me and disapproving of my clothes plus me not knowing enough to stop complaining. I never was quiet and shy and always had trouble keeping my opinions to myself. C'est la vie!


Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

I don't think you were were standing up for your rights as a worker entitled to work hard but fairly. Ain't it always the way that they replace one position with two. Ironic since they could have done that in the first place. Love the mini -I think you might have pinched mine ;-)

Kristin said...

I agree with Pauleen. Too bad they didn't just hire another person and keep you.

Mariann Regan said...

What a great story (though painful at the time). I've had similar experiences ... they taught me the most important thing about workplaces: they aren't fair. You can never count on fairness. I love the picture of you in your bright orange and green clothes versus the resentful older woman who got you fired. The way I look at it, she's stuck with being herself, but you got freed!