When I started this series, I thought it was just going to be about the jobs I had to get through college. But as I processed the memories, it began to be about the journey through life, with God providing what I needed when I needed, in His time and His way.
I left the job at Gerry just before the wedding. DC had heard about a position at a bank in the town north of us, where he worked. Right after the honeymoon, I was privileged to begin another phase of my life, again in a position that I never would have been able to foresee. I worked in the marketing department. I never knew there was such a thing. I had a wonderful Christian boss (the one who helped me through this life crisis), and interesting people to work with. We had a great time planning P.R. events. We were on the ground floor of ATMs. We were the first bank in the state to offer cards for cash machines. What a hassle that was! I sold tickets to all the big events - Cheyenne Frontier Days, Elitch's Theater, Central City Opera. We also had a "rental referral service," which meant anyone looking for a rental cold stop by and look through our offerings, which we got from realtors and private parties with apartments and houses. I left there just 4 days before Kristen was born - making the officers very nervous hat I was still there. There were 100 employees at this bank and 12 of us were pregnant at the same time! I wish we could have a reunion with all of our 32 year old babies.
Just as I left, the very first word processing center was established - I left at the cusp of the computer explosion. The person who took my place eventually became a vice president. I often wondered what would have happened if I had stayed there.
But that was the beginning of my best job ever. The perks were not financial, but being a stay-at-home mom was so much fun. I pinched pennies till they squealed. I went without a car for awhile. But I loved it.
I often looked in the paper and found things that sounded really interesting, but I knew the time was not right. I did some home editing for a city directory publishing company. I ended that one when Kevin was born and it was more hassle than it was worth. DC was weary of looking at my back as I worked at the kitchen table every night after the kids were in bed.
I sewed for people, did some needlework for a bit of cash, and had a really funky short-term typing job or two. After Kevin got lost at the Pet and Doll Parade (have I written about that?) and was afraid of his shadow, I decided he needed to go to preschool and get over his fears before kindergarten. I applied for a school job. When Kev heard I was planning to go to work, he said, "Can't you just stay home with me, Mommy?" My potential principal boss and I decided it was a good mom decision to stay home for at least another year. I didn't think about it again until he was in first grade. Trying to work any kind of job around kindergarten is ridiculous.
When both kids were in school full-time I took a job in a school cafeteria as the manager. It's a high-falutin' sounding title which meant that I "managed" two other ladies who were old enough to be my mother in the lunch program at an elementary school. I worked 3 hours a day and had all my kids' vacation time off. It wasn't much money, but it helped. After a few years, I decided to substitute in the school district for all of the support staff positions. It was fun to be at a different school every day, with sometimes working a week or more in the same position - or being able to say "no" if I didn't want to work that day. I enjoyed most of the positions, and learned which school I would or would not want to work in someday, and which positions I would like or not. I learned that I could not possibly be a special ed. aide. I have such high regard for anyone who can work with such a special population, and for anyone who can teach in a middle school!
After a few years of that, I took a "real" job - in a middle school, ironically. But again it allowed me to have the same schedule as the kids. It was in the office, and I thought it was going to be great fun. The bad news was that I had to spell the "in house suspension" guy when he had lunch or break. I was given absolutely no respect, in fact was sabotaged by those in authority who could have made my job more bearable. For instance, if I wrote up one of the kids for an infraction, the Dean of Students would tear it up and there was no consequence. So why in the world would they listen to anything I had to say?? It was wretched, and finally I could take it no longer. So I quit.
The good news was that I had been able to take a computer class through the school district, and had just completed it. The timing was right - I had lost the chance at two really good sounding part-time jobs with the city because I didn't have computer skills. I knew I could learn it on the job, but why would they hire somebody who didn't have the skills when there were so many who did??
I went to several employment agencies. The computer class made it possible for me to do very well on the tests given by the agencies - and remember, I had been typing in my head all those years, so my speed was unbelievable, even to me. I scored 90+ words per minute with very few errors. What a blessing.
I soon found myself in a really good long-term temporary job. It was the type of job that allowed me time to work on my brand new skills and learn new ones. What a great set-up. I was there for 6 weeks and really enjoyed it. As soon as it ended, another one began which lasted 3 months. This one was word processing (fancy term for typing) for a lab that was trying to get a new product approved by the FDA. What a nit-picky job that was! But again it allowed me to increase my computer skills dramatically. They offered me a position, but in the meantime I had taken the test for the state system during my lunch hour one day. At the same time they offered me a job, the state system offered me two interviews at the university.
Once again, I could see the hand of God in the timing of my life. I had two interviews the same day. I liked both places. I asked God to help me know which one was right. He's amazing - one was offered to me, the other wasn't.
Once again, I got into a position that I knew nothing about. When my soon-to-be-boss told me what the job entailed I said, "Yes, I can do that." Never mind that I had no clue what working with an MSW program meant!
My position for the last 14 years has been "mothering" applicants through the intense process of getting into this program, then "mothering" them through the intense process of getting through this program - which includes a grad school process that is less than student friendly. It has been my joy to see approximately 700 students make it through. I have processed probably 2000 applications, including computing grade point averages from every college they have been to.
I love keeping in touch with some of the graduates when they leave. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed the students. I have had the privilege of being a "soft place to land" for the few Christians who end up in this degree, which can be a difficult place for them to hold on to their values and beliefs. I have been named "Mother Dawn" and have received gifts and tributes every year at graduation. I have often wondered why I was here, but then I remember that I have been able to be light and salt.
The other half of my job, until I went half time 3 years ago, was assistant to the director. It included a lot of event planning, which is no my forte, so I was not reluctant to give that part up and keep the part where I work with the students.
I will have been there 15 years when, in ten more months, I turn in my keys, turn over the students I love to someone else, and begin another phase of this adventure called my life. I wonder what He has in store for me next.