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