Who woulda thunk it? I can honestly say at age 56 that I love my job. But I had to serve my time in life to get to this point.
At age 17, my goal in life was to get a job, any job, to support myself while I went to college to become a journalist. My parents refused to support me. They wanted me to go to the same college my brother did and become something safe, like a secretary, nurse, or medical assistant. I considered the medical assistant and even visited the college, but my heart wasn’t in it. I also discovered I did not like the sight of other people’s blood. And I sure wasn’t willing to kill a bunny rabbit in the laboratory.
At age 18, I got a job with C&P Telephone Company as a telephone operator. I also got married. Our plan, I thought, was for me to work a couple years, then quit and go to college. It didn’t happen. The phone company paid well for office work, was union wages, and great benefits. There was no way my husband was going to support me while I went to college. I had to work.
So work I did. Odd hours, holidays, weekends. I started out on the old cord boards in 1978. I didn’t mind parts of the job, but I hated the way people treated me. The phone let anonymous people rip me apart verbally for no reason. Just saying “hello” got the obscenities started. After all, I worked for the phone company, I must be a bad person.
I was young, so the crazy hours weren’t really horrible. Back then I could handle only six hours between shifts. There’s no way I could do that now. Now, I would prefer that there be a couple days in between work days.
Much happened with telephone technology over the next thirty years. Operators needed to keep up with the changes in training and equipment. Computers took center stage and kept advancing. I spent some years as a Trainer, some as a Service Assistant, some as Management Replacement, and some as a Telemarketer with AT&T. I wasn’t very good at that one, but I was a good operator. And I hated it. By this time I had several years under my belt and I needed to think about preparing for retirement, a pension, and health insurance, all the things mature adults have to think about. Doggone it.
So I put in my time and finally had my thirty years of service in. When they offered me a financial incentive to leave, I thanked them very much and did not let the door hit me in the butt as I high tailed it out of there. My blood pressure was high, I was depressed and miserable. I was only 48, which is kind of early for retirement, but my health was an issue and my sanity was going to become an issue. It was time.
I enjoyed not working for about six months. It was really nice. But then there was an opening for a volunteer in the church office to do the monthly newsletter, and I took it. And then there was a volunteer opening one day a week in the church office as secretary, and I took it. Then another day was open for a volunteer to prepare the weekly Sunday Bulletin for worship services, and I took it. Before I knew it, I was volunteering four days a week at the church, four hours a day. I loved it, but I was also thinking about the future and retirement, and knew I needed a job that paid some money. I had to keep in mind my social security and whether or not it would even be available when I reached my 60’s. There was much to consider when I was my only source of income and the only person I could rely on for my future.
In 2010, about two years after I had retired, a new pastor came to our church who was interested in hiring a secretary to work all five days instead of relying on volunteers. I was blessed to be hired as the new Office Manager.
It’s never boring working at my church. There are always people in and out, problems to be solved, things happening, and work to be done. I could not begin to tell you all the things I do. There’s everything from paying the church’s bills to preparing and publishing the church newsletter and bulletins, ordering supplies for the church and committees, to tracking membership and attendance, and numerous small things that pop up. There are some days the phone doesn’t stop ringing, and some it doesn’t ring once. Some days there are several people in and out of the office, and some days none. Recently, one day within an hour I had five people come into the office starting with, “Will you do me a favor…?” I enjoy them all. I love working by myself most of the time, but I also love the fellowship of the church family.
When a young person is starting out, I always tell them to follow their heart in what they do, to not ever let anyone deter them from their passion. If they have a dream, find a way. I hold fast to that. I will never know how my life would have turned out had I followed my first passion, but that’s OK with me now. I took a long detour, but I have a job now I love, it makes me smile, and I get to do some writing now and then. I think God has me where he wants me, for now.