Sure, I had dreamt of waitressing on Cape Cod or even working the snack bar at the pool club that summer of ´83 – my last summer before seeking a teaching job. Waiting for me was another summer at the office where my dad worked. Nepotism at its best. My dad instilled a strong work ethic in his children; I worked full time at Air Express, kept score at baseball games and sold Avon products that summer. Yet, the summer didn´t begin that way. I mustered up the nerve to tell Dad that I could not tolerate one more summer of utter boredom, no offense. I was hired at Papa Gino’s Pizzeria, a new franchise in town where I lasted for two shifts. The precision of spaghetti measurement seemed silly; the cash register, mind blowing. I am a methodical worker, processing information in my own time. My supervisor saw things differently. I wasn’t exactly fired, but I could tell there would be no hard feelings if I decided to leave. Putting the Papa Gino’s debacle behind me,I reluctantly returned to Air Express, more grateful to have a steady 9-5 job while friends were flipping burgers and working crazy hours. I returned to the air conditioned office, awaiting lunch hour to catch some sun and fresh air, vowing that I would never work in an office, a place where you can’t open a window. As it turns out that summer there was a new task for me. Air Express was offering a new service, and I was going to make follow up phone calls. I was a telemarketer only my supervisor promised these were not cold calls. I was given an empty office in the executive area from which to make the calls. I learned quickly not to call California first thing in the morning. How was I to know people provided their home numbers? Why answer? Oh, that’s right. There was no caller ID in 1983. My immediate supervisor was a big fan of my dad’s but not of me. She would show none of the preferential treatment I enjoyed over the years, the instant approval that came with being Bob’s daughter. My dad had just the right amount of humor and irreverence. Dad could schmooze in his professional life; I had yet to learn how to do this. My supervisor was a young professional woman who intimidated me with her curt manner and her classic dress. She stopped in briefly to check in, usually to let me know when I had made a mistake. Mistakes, such as calling clients at 5AM, reflected on her, so apparently this summer’s work was going to require some effort. I could rise to the occasion.
Each day I looked forward to my fifteen minute break where I could slip outside and read my book at the picnic table under the shade of the trees, precious moments. Lunch was also a highlight. Most afternoons I sought relief from the midday sun and sat on a rock at a nearby elementary school and ate my lunch. I could feel the summer breeze seeping into my pores making me feel more like a human being and less like an automaton. In 1983, people could smoke at their desks, in their offices, and needless to say the air was stale with more than a hint of competing perfumes. Meditation in the 80’s was suspect but on that rock, I was aware of my breathing, inhaling, followed by a long exhale. I hated wishing the hours away, anxiously awaiting the 5PM hour much like Fred Flintstone at the quarry. Yet, I couldn’t wait to sit on the deck; see what my grandma had made for dinner; digest for a half hour before jumping into our pool; and end the day with a game of family Scrabble.