coffee, donuts and suit coats
For what ever reason, I was thinking about my first real job.
I’m not going to count the paper route that had me cut through a cemetery. I’m not going to count being a busboy at Marie Calendar’s (they say “apple pie without some cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze… don’t I know it.) I’m not even going to count my job at the mall selling musical instruments and sheet music. I really should, come to think of it. It’s where I learned spreadsheets, demand driven inventory, working with salesmen and selling. The one and only reason I’ll discount it is because it was in a mall.
My first real job was for a management association for CBAs, CEOs, CFOs and a whole lot of other initials. I started in a cubicle pushed up against an indentation in the hall. You couldn’t make coffee and toast at the same time in the break room or my computer would turn off. The CEO would run down the hall and yell through the men’s room door to get someone’s hours for payroll.
I had to wear a suit coat to work. Everyday I’d get up before the cows (Chino, the dairyland of Southern California was just a hill and a downwind breeze away) and get ready for work. With eyes still half closed from lack of sleep, I’d manage to tie a double Windsor knot in my tie and get my suit coat on. I’d drive down the hill of the condos where I lived, turn left and then left and then left into the driveway next door and park my Toyota pick up. I’d walk into my office and promptly take my suit coat off. It’d stay there till the end of the day when I’d put it back on and make the right, right, right to get back home again. We worked four ten hour days starting at seven a.m. (for the East Coast) who never ever called us before nine, since they figured we were a West Coast organization and why would be open before nine. I couldn’t do anything of value until ten, so I ended up working late a lot.
I had this trick, that when I woke up late, I’d stop off and get donuts for the staff. People thought I was late because I was building team unity but really I was covering up my tardiness with carbs. And what is it with women and donuts? The guys would get two donuts and be starving for lunch at 12. The ladies at my office would “only want a slice” and you’d see these odd shaped donut carcasses in the kitchen. That is until you checked half an hour later when you noticed that all the donut carcasses had more slices taken off. I figured all the girls had the equivalent of three donuts but come lunch time they’d say “I don’t know why I’m not hungry… I’ve only had a slice of donut.”
Which reminds me. Never let me make the coffee at work. Most of you will find this hard to believe, but I was usually first or second in to work. It was more by necessity. If allowed to sleep past 6:20, I will cruise right on up to nine. Anyway…. I’d make the coffee since I needed the jumpstart. I’m not one for reading directions so I filled the coffee filter so it had lots of grounds, but wouldn’t overflow the machine. This was all prior to my Starbucks addiction so I didn’t know what good coffee should taste like. I’d mask the overpowering strength with a spoonfull of Cremora and some Sweet & Lows. It was fine for me but on more than one morning I could hear my workmates saying “Ooooooooohhhhh! Arnold made the coffee again! I think my hair is standing on end.”
Our company was so poor that at the end of the month, we’d have all the employees bring the pens that finished the workday in a pocket or purse. We couldn’t afford a new calculator for me so I had to use bent paperclips as my spool holder. I can still bend paperclips into useful shapes like nobody’s business.
Now I do other financial related stuff (Someone I just met asked me what I did and I told him. And someone I’ve known a while says “I’ve never known what you actually do.” Now that I mention it, my sister actually thought I was a web designer.). I’ve come along ways career-wise since those days, but no one ever forgets their first job.