Monthly Archives: March 2014

Near Miss at Respectability

My vagabond life as an office temp did finally come to an end.  My last assignment–a receptionist gig at $7/hour–turned into a full-time position after six months.  I was over the moon.  I was so proud.  I finally had a real, grown-up-type job.  At $22,000/year, I felt that I had arrived.

But let me back up and set the scene a little bit.  The company was a little pre-press computer imaging service located in a tiny office park.  When I started it had the clunky name of Hi-Tech Color and Creative Services.  (It went through several name changes while I was there and has gone through even more since.)  There were two sides to the business.  On one side of the building was the technical side.  This housed not only all the people who made the physical proofs and films and such, but also the people at their MACs who put various models’ heads on other models’ bodies in all those magazine ads.  On the other side of the building were the creative designers–the artists who did ad layouts and such.  In the middle were the salespeople, customer service reps, and the administrative types.  There were probably between twenty and thirty people working there at the time.

I started as the receptionist.  I answered the telephone–a 12-line system with voice mail and all that.  I greeted guests and paged the people they were there to see.  I sorted the incoming mail and put messages in the little cubbyholes marked with employees’ names.  I had a nice, dark walnut desk with lots of drawers, which also made me happy.  I love office supplies, and I had all I could want.

After I’d been there about a month (still technically working for the temp agency), the office manager began teaching me how to do the customer billing.  I learned how to use accounting software.  I learned about accounting principles and all about accounts receivables and it was a lot of fun.  I’ve been told that this is a little weird, but a well-filled-out ledger is a thing of beauty to me.  By the time I had been there a year, I was handling most of the accounts receivable duties along with receptionist duties.  And it was fabulous!  I loved nearly every minute of that job.  Oh sure there were some difficult people I encountered once in a while, but in general this was a great gig.

Once we got a photo studio, I started to meet some interesting folks coming in for shoots.  I meet Emmett Kelly, Jr., Bo Jackson, and a lot of local celebrities and business owners.  My favorite, though, was Real Musgrave.  He is the creator of Pocket Dragons–one of my favorite little collectibles.  I got to speak to him for a few moments one day while he was waiting in the lobby for our boss lady to take him to lunch.  He seemed surprised that I knew who he was and that I knew about Pocket Dragons.  He asked if I had any, and I had to admit that I did not, that I had never had the money to spare.  Well, after the photo shoot, he came out of the studio with a small paper bag in his hand.  He smiled and made small talk for a minute, and then presented me with the bag.  Inside was a Pocket Dragon of my very own!  I gasped.  I squealed.  He then explained that this was a prototype–not one that was available commercially yet.  It was a sleeping baby dragon on top of a hinged ring-box.  I still have it.  It’s the one sentimental possession that survived my many moves and bad relationships.  And even though I’ve been told that it is very valuable because it was never put into general production, I wouldn’t sell it for all the world.

But, as usual, things went downhill.  In this case, however, I still don’t understand all I know about the situation.

About seven or eight months after I started there the office manager retired and a new office manager came in.  She and I got along wonderfully.  I learned a lot from her and we had a great working relationship.  Sometime during my second year there, she announced that she would also be retiring.  She started teaching me how to handle more and more of her duties, and, when she retired, I thought I would be promoted into her slot.  Our boss, the company controller, set it up to where I would work half the day in the office manager’s office and half the day at the reception desk.  He said that this would continue “until we hire someone”.  I naturally thought that they would hire a receptionist and I would take over as office manager.

After I’d been doing this for about three months, my boss called everyone into the photo studio (the biggest room in the building) for a meeting.  There he introduced a young woman as THE NEW OFFICE MANAGER.  I was stunned.  I was so upset I ran to the rest room and burst into tears.  But I didn’t question it.  I wasn’t that kind of person back then.  I just went back to the reception desk and went back to my old duties.

Here’s the weird part.

That gal lasted about two weeks.  That’s it.  And my boss had me start with the old half-n-half routine again.  Once again, I was naive enough to think that this time, I would get the promotion.

No dice.

Another office manager showed up.  This time it was an older woman much like the two I had worked for before.  Again, I sighed and went back to work thinking that I would be able to work with her as well as I had the first two.  Alas, that was not to be.

I don’t know why she decided she did not like me.  Several co-workers also commented on her obvious animosity toward me, but no one seemed to be able to offer an explanation.

Am I exaggerating?  I’ll let you decide.

A few days before my birthday this lady told me that our boss wanted her to take me out to lunch for my birthday.  I thought, oh, how nice, maybe we’re going to mend some fences here.  So on my birthday I rode in her beautiful Lexus to Ruby Tuesday’s and we had a beautiful lunch.  Right after the entree was done, she brought out a packet of papers from her purse.  She explained that my job performance had been terrible and that these papers were a formal write-up.  She listed a series of missteps I had supposedly done, and I asked her why no one had said anything the first time any of those things had happened.  She just told me that I needed to sign the papers and that she didn’t owe me any explanation.  I tried to explain that I wanted to do a good job, and all anyone would have to do is call my attention to anything that had gone wrong and I would try to fix it.  She wasn’t listening.  So I signed the paper, rode back with her, and again cried in the rest room on my break.

I wish I could say that I quit right there, but this story ends not with a bang, but with a whimper.  I saw that the company was getting rid of people and not replacing them.  I knew that our receivables were not equalling our outgo, and that this wasn’t a good situation.  So I found a new job, gave a 2-week notice, and was fired that day (not allowed to work out the notice).

Oh well.

So that ended the best job I’d had to date, but I was about to start on a new adventure.  I was about to learn all about the world of law enforcement.

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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Work History