Thursday, October 18, 2007

Saga of the Jobs - Part 6

At the end of the last episode, I had resigned my teaching job in southeast Kansas and moved back in with my parents. We got along well, but I was used to having my own place, so this was like going backwards, and I felt stifled. I couldn't afford to live in an apartment in by myself (as in, there were no old houses with an upstairs apartment that cost $65.00 a month!), so this was to be a temporary solution. Eventually, the church bought a different parsonage, and my dad built a little apartment in the basement. The idea was to have a place to house evangelists and missionaries. I was privileged to live in it when it wasn't needed for that purpose. That helped immensely my feeling of claustrophobia.

Mom and Dad's church had a day care center. Mom had been directing it, but the state was cracking down on licensure. Since I had an elementary education degree, I lacked only 3 courses to be a licensed day care center director. I decided to take the position and obtain the credits by correspondence courses. I remember studying nutrition while the kids were napping. To put it in as few words as possible, I didn't like it. I had made a huge mistake.

The biggest reason for my unhappiness had nothing to do with the position, or living back home, or making less money. The boyfriend I mentioned in the last chapter broke up with me two weeks after I got home. He had tried to tell me over Christmas that he wasn't ready to settle down. I didn't believe it. I just thought he needed me nearby to see that he couldn't live without me. Wrong! He really meant it. I was devastated. (I tell more of this story in my "100 Things About Me" on my sidebar). Now add a broken heart to an unhappy job situation, living situation, and financial situation!

I lasted through that semester, then began looking for something else. I looked into several things that sounded promising, including trips to Pueblo, Colorado; Kansas City, MO; and back to Oklahoma to my college town. Nothing worked out.

At the end of the summer I began applying for jobs in the Denver area through various employment agencies. I was sent all over the metro area to some really horrible places. I got lost so many times. I am a bit directionally challenged, and couldn't see the mountains in the midst of those tall downtown buildings, which was the only way I could get my bearings. There were a couple of interesting places, but I knew I could not afford to live down there by myself, and I knew I didn't want to have to drive downtown or pay for parking down there. My dream was to get a job, find a good church in the north Denver area, and find a roommate at the church, after which I would move.

Finally, I was sent to the interview that would result in a position that would bring me great enjoyment. It was a company called "Gerry Outdoor Sports Industry."


I was hired as the secretary to the Personnel Manager. This was another situation where that one lone typing course I took in high school stood me in very good stead. I had landed in a very good spot. It was quite a drive down the Interstate every morning, but it was far enough north that I didn't get into heavy traffic, and my little green Mustang got pretty good mileage. I actually made it to work better on snowy days than the people who lived in the Denver area communities, and was there to take their calls telling me they couldn't make it in, or were stuck somewhere in the snow. I'll never forget one morning when I was running late. I was the only one on the road (that would never happen now, no matter how early in the morning it is), when suddenly there was a guy in the middle of the interstate lane waving his arms over his head. Somehow he'd clocked me speeding, and was stopping me. I could've killed him! As he was giving me the ticket, I was trying to evoke sympathy by telling him I was running late for work. He drolly remarked, "You're gonna be later now!"

I worked for Mary Cook, and we had our office area in the factory side of the company. There were approximately 100 garment seamstresses making down-filled sleeping bags and jackets, as well as nylon tents. I had a wonderful time working with these women who worked 8 hours a day at industrial sewing machines. There were times when it became my job to take one of them to the emergency room a few miles north of us when the incredibly heavy-duty needle would go through a finger. Not the most pleasant aspect of the job! It makes me cringe to think of it these many years later!

Mary and I had fun organizing social events for the plant and the office. I felt the difference immediately when I would cross that entry way to the rest of the office suite. I was the designated "key operator" for the Xerox machine. I'm sure they always gave it to the new kid on the block, because it was a nasty job. It was particularly ridiculous since my office was totally separated from the main office area, but I had to run over there several times a day to un-jam the crazy machine, add paper, etc. They wouldn't touch it when something went wrong.

There were so many ethnic groups represented on the sewing floor. We had some wonderful pot lucks with all of their specialties. They loved taking note of what I wore every day, and I had fun sewing outfits that they would enjoy seeing.

Mary gave me so many opportunities for growth. One of my duties was processing the insurance claims for all of the employees. She sent me over the mountains on a very bumpy, airsickness-inducing flight on a small plane to the sister plant in Alamosa to try to straighten out the mess in their office. She sent me to business meetings she could not attend. It was a great experience.

Mary had clawed her way up the ladder from an impoverished single mom working in an office, pushing the "goodie cart" around to the employees - and she took the left-overs home to survive. She was now on the highest level of male-dominated corporate leadership. She was an author of several books, she dressed so beautifully - a very classy lady. I'll never forget making myself a navy pin-stripe suit, to emulate her dress style.

I really enjoyed working at Gerry. I acquired some great camping equipment, and ski jackets for everyone in my family at employee sales of seconds and returned products. The product was so great that the Denver Broncos all wore these jackets. Their practice field was just north of our office building, and often we'd go to lunch where they ate lunch as well. All of the higher-ups in this company were on a first name basis with the coach and the players. You could identify the products by the "G" in the triangle, embroidered on the left lower arm of the jacket.

When I met DC, he couldn't believe I drove 100 miles round trip for work every day. But when he learned what kind of product I worked with, he got really excited! When we became engaged, he began to encourage me to get a job closer to home.

The "girls" in the factory, who had become such good friends, were so excited about my new romance. DC sent flowers once a month. They were so involved in the evolution of our relationship. They gave me a wonderful shower, and some attended the wedding.


It was bittersweet when I left that position after 16 months. But the company moved into downtown not long after I left. Though it was a wonderful product, the administration was not up to par, and the company struggled financially. I think I left just at the right time - just more evidence of God's providence over my life.



Diane J. said...

I've run a regular sewing machine needle through my finger, so I can just imagine what one of those industrial juggernauts feels like!

So we get into your last/current job in the next installment, hmm?

Hope you have a great Friday, Dawn. :-)

Love and hugs,


Nancy said...

I have really enjoyed reading all of your "job" story because it brings back so many memories. It is such a blessing for you to look back and see God's hand at work with every aspect of your life. Again, let me say that I agree with the typing thing. In many ways, I have considered it a God given talent because it will come in handy just at the right moment. God's timing... and now let us hear more about how your romance progressed!

ps- I left you a note under my comments section! Thanks for all of your encouragement and thoughtfullness.

Kristen said...

Isn't the building that used to be Gerry now the Grizzly Rose??

Now, what on earth did you need camping equipment for?! Must have been your foresight into the future--somehow knowing you would end up marrying an outdoorsman.

Dawn said...

I didn't buy camping equipment until I met that guy!

Susie said...

I've seen the Gerry brand around as we do lots of camping & outdoor stuff too.
Sounds like an interesting job, but that 100 mile per day commute would be expensive and tiring in today's world!

nancygrayce said...

Oh, the $65 upstairs apartment brings back memories for me too! My first husband and I lived in a big old house in the upstairs apt. and paid $60 a month, which we had to pay in two payments, we were so poor!

A Note From Theresa said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. And thanks for the idea. It was very sweet and nice of you.

Again thanks for coming by, please feel free to come back any time.

P.S 2 out of the 4 families got their child back(If you want to know how, send me an email) but the two that are left are still in need of prayer.

Maine Mom said...

I quickly learned after subbing in a daycare during college that being a daycare worker was not for me.

It's fun to read about a job you enjoyed and the friendships you developed there. :-)

This is a great record for your retirement!

groovyoldlady said...

Hi Mom/Sis! I'm out from under the rock now...

I never had a "real" job, so it's fascinating reading about yours. I can't wait for the next installment!

Nadine said...

What an interesting story. I can't wait for the next installment. I love the picture of you - very lovely.

staceyhoff said...

Hi Grandma Dawn :)

I enjoyed reading about your jobs when you were a young lady on here; I too remember having a whiff of freedom and then having to move back in with family out of necessity~ of course,I came back after a divorce and with an almost-2 year old in my arms to raise, but I don't regret that decision and my family was so gracious and kind to us. My Grandpa helped me pay for college, whatever financial aid wouldn't cover, and helped me graduate and get some legs to stand on so I could take care of us myself, of course that was about the time I met my now-husband,Alan~ another of God's provisions! he has been a loving father for my son for over 9 years now! Your post for your husbands surprise party made me cry a little bit~ I sure can't wait to see and hold my first grand-baby :)
Seeing the growth from one phase to the next in your lives made me long to get old,because I know it will be just as fun as it is now for us ;)Thanks for the encouragement. <3 Stacey H.

Linda said...

You have certainly had a very interesting, varied job history Dawn. You make me feel like I was right there with you on these adventures. Great job!
Are you getting to see Barb and her daughter and grandson? Have a wonderful visit.

Linds said...

I also want to know all about the meeting with Barb!!
I love reading your saga stories, and like so many of the others, it brings back memories of my working life too, sporadic though it was. Lots to make me smile.

PEA said...

I'm so enjoying reading about your sure went through a lot to get to where you are today! I'm sure it makes you wonder at times how you ever got through it all but it shows your strength of character that you DID get through it!! xox