Going Places by Slapping Faces

Sometimes when life hands you lemons you need to just slap them out of life’s hands and maybe slap life’s face while you’re at it.  Especially when it comes to boring jobs.

The only job I’ve really enjoyed was breakfast waitress in a coffee shop when I was 19.  It was fun, time flew by and I made tips! (I could actually pay my light bill in quarters which was completely possible in 1971.)

Eventually though, I got the not-so-bright idea to get Boring Secretarial Training and managed to land — shortly thereafter — the most boring secretarial job not only on earth, but on any planet in the universe that would even theoretically sustain life.

My job was to sit at the front desk in an architect’s office and answer the occasional once-a-day phone call and type the occasional, once-a-month letter.

But the pay was excellent and since my husband, 37, was a full-time student, I could never rationalize quitting  — even though the only challenge the position offered was that of polishing up my ability to keep my eyes open.

This was in the 70’s before computers and the internet. So I really had to be creative to find ways to make time pass. Whenever I’d get so bored I felt like crying, I would take the coins in the petty cash and stack them according to mint taking my sweet, sweet time to gaze into the copper eyes of Abraham Lincoln or contemplate, as earnestly as all get out, the expression etched on the nickel-alloyed face of  our beloved Thomas Jefferson.

This is when I began drinking coffee — simply as a way to kill more time. Pour, sip, swallow,  pour, swallow, sip.  Yay!   Thirty seconds disposed of!  Only 7 hours, 59 and a half minutes left to go! But no matter what ways I devised to kill time, every minute of every day went by in geological increments.

I was hanging ten on a nine-to-five glacier.

I finally got up the nerve to ask my boss one day if, when I wasn’t busy, I could read.  (I have no idea what he thought I did all day).  He agreed and I was in heaven for about three weeks.

But getting to read eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year isn’t as dreamy as it sounds. Immersing yourself in other people’s stories to such an extent feels surreal and odd. When the phone would ring, I’d think . . . wait a minute . . . where am I? . . . who am I? . . . or even what am I?  (if I was reading science fiction).

I can’t believe I stuck it out for three whole years. When I think back, all I can  remember about the mid 70’s  is the tedious tick . . . pause 2, 3, 4 . . .  tock of the never-ending clock.

I’ve had a lot of secretarial jobs since then, but I am happy to report that none of them Put the Candles on the Boring Cake like the architect’s office job.  But I did learn a good lesson.

When life hands you lemons, punch it in the nose!

Until next time, I love you

11 thoughts on “Going Places by Slapping Faces

  1. At least in the 70s you had a legitimate excuse to be bored what without the instant gratification of checking Facebook every 10 seconds. (I’ve checked mine 4 times since I started writing this comment btw). Plus you got to stare at all those wacky clothes!

    Rob – The Mainland

    • Well thank you for taking time from checking your facebook to stop by my site! Yes the wacky clothes AND don’t forget the hairdos. I remember curling my bangs backwards into a little roll, add to that my huge bell bottoms and ever bigger collar and I was a outta sight.

  2. In the 80’s I was a receptionist at a geological firm. Also very boring. My savior was being able to do my college homework assignments at work. A real life saver until they pulled the plug and fired me for someone who actually would do their accounting work while answering the phones (multi-tasking). Go figure! Enjoying your blog.
    Enjoy always. T

    • A geological firm sounds about as boring as it gets. I bet the girl they got to replace you did her homework too though.

      It’s funny because now I probably wouldn’t mind the boredom. I think I would be more apt to think of it as quiet time (or maybe even serenity) for which I was paid.

      I’m so glad you’re are enjoying the blog. That’s nice to hear.

  3. Oh my goodness, I have had a job or two that just draggedddd on time wise but I had the old stand by solitaire in the computer. Sounds like you made the best of it. Sometime I think about stuff I have done in he past and I have no idea how I made it through. That’s great philosophy – When Life gives you lemons punch it in the nose! Lol.
    I used to think when Life handed me lemons it meant melons….
    🙂 Peace

  4. It is interesting to see how much things have changed. Now I think people have the opposite problem (as other commenters have mentioned).

    I can’t believe you asked your boss if you could read. I’m assuming you live in the States like me. The US seems to have always been in real denial about boredom. We must always be working, so we can’t ever be bored. I’ve read a couple books on the sneak in the office before. (Don’t tell anyone!)

    • One of the unintended consquences of eletronics is that boredom is practically extinct. I wonder how that will impact mankind? I think you should write a story about that!

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