Thursday, June 26, 2014

My First Jobs - a Frightening Retrospective, part DEUX and Colin Firth

Well, since I actually had someone read AND comment on my first of a series regarding my stellar career in the big city, I thought I would continue with an actual second post.  Thereby giving legitimacy to the SERIES concept...

As I wrote before, somewhere in the murky depths of the seventies I worked at G. D. Searle & Co. in Skokie, Illinois.  Old Man Searle made his fortune discovering THE PILL.  He then went on to discover Dramamine and Aspartame.  He may have invented salt as well, but that could have been just a rumor.

When he retired and his idiot sons took over, not that there's anything wrong with that, Searle's pace slowed down to the 'Tennessee Williams July In Summer' pace I knew and loved so well.  But, this was the mid-seventies.  Computers (I worked for the head of the computer department for seven years) were morphing.  During my days at Searle I watched the evolution of the computer, from filling an entire floor to becoming just a large box (THE TOWER) and a small TV screen.  During those years our department gradually began to dematerialize, in direct proportion to the number of those small boxes popping up on desks.

It took seven years.

And then, one day, our department disappeared completely.  Poof.  Bill Gates had gotten the keys to his dad's garage, invented Microsoft, and the rest is history.

My next job was working as an Office Manager for an accounting firm.  That was another seven years of my life shot to hell.  It was a forgettable job in every aspect but one.  I was so incredibly disgusted with my life, and my job, (and nearing thirty) that I decided to return to school and finish college.

Since it was just mom and me at the time, attending school full time was out of the question - we needed my paycheck.  So I attended Mundelein Weekend College for three years to get my accounting degree.  Every weekend was full days at school, and one or two nights a week as well.  It was not a condensed version of college, believe me.  We were expected to put in all the hours we would have going full time, and it was murder.  Especially in the winter in Chicago, when the temperature was sub-zero and my car would freeze sitting for eight hours in the lake front campus parking lot.

But, I triumphed!  I received my degree.  I went to my bosses at Brown, Coleman and Hale, my little sheepskin clutched in my little fist, to give him the good news - that I was a college graduate, that I had my accounting classes and that I was ready to take that beginners job I had been promised three years before.

Well, they were not.  They had changed their mind.  They wanted me to remain as the office manager.  They were sick and tired of training people.  Poor they.  It was a blow to me, and I was angry.  If that happened to me now, I probably would have returned to work wearing Goth clothing, carrying an uzi and a thousand sounds of ammunition, with a forty page, meticulously typed manifest tucked away in my computer. But I digress.

Instead I was still relatively young, proud and hopeful.  I could do better - much better.  The world would long remember Karen Hamrin (or, as my old computer boss used to called me - Carol Harmon)  I handed in my notice and went out into the world.  The world of accounting.  (and people wonder why the economy crashed so badly back then...)

And now a word from my dear friend, Colin Firth, as he defended my accounting abilities, or lack thereof, in a rare interview, some years ago.  AND, this was AFTER I refused his pleas to marry me.  Heartbroken as he was by that, he still stood by my side.  I was his "mama mia" and for some reason he keeps referring to me as "Michael Winterbottom".  Funny guy.  Gratzie, Colin!

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