I wanted to be an office worker in high school but a condensed co-op schedule wouldn’t allow for all the classes that I still wanted to take my senior year. The summer after high school graduation I was volunteering at a hometown festival food tent and a customer mentioned that an open student worker position was available in my future college’s most short-handed department, accounting. The following Tuesday, (three years, one month and a couple days ago) I went in to interview for my first “real” job and started working on the same day. I can still remember what I wore. (Dressy black capris, flowery pink cami, and a black cardigan, in case you were wondering.)
I deemed my first assignment, creating address labels on a typewriter, “cruel and unusual” punishment. (For those that aren’t aware, not only are typewriters very noisy, their backspace button makes a distinct cringeworthy sound that is unlike the noise of a regular letter key.) So much to my embarrassment, my tortoiselike typing speed and numerous nerve-derived mistakes clamored loudly for the entire office to hear. I could just feel my new coworkers rolling their eyes at me behind their cubicles thinking, “God… this new girl’s a blonde.”
I may have blonde hair, but my office nicknamed me after a certain brunette, Ameilia Bedelia because of my sometimes literal way of doing things. For example, (Circa May, 2009) Sandy said, “Molly box up these old files and write destroy in seven years.” Instead of writing, “Destroy in 2016” like she wanted I marked, “Destroy in 7 Years.” The poor campus file destroyers are still scratching their heads, and will be waiting to destroy that box long after my demise. The book, “Good Work Amelia Bedelia” has been purchased as a gift to the office and will likely grace Mara’s tacky trinket shelf.
When we weren’t making out grocery lists, marking important dates on the calendar with plastic monkeys, hiding chicken feet in obscure places or acting out employee’s last names, our noses were being grinded off by the stone that is “Community College Payroll.” Much has been learned from my time spent in the office. I’ve learned that not everyone enjoys the smell of old broccoli in the refrigerator. I’m an exquisite drawer of checkmarks. And sitting by the office printer led me to realize that not everyone wants to hear how much trouble you’re having with the machine. Unless you’re Sandy; then verbal frustration is completely amusing and encouraged. You needn’t recite everything that the printer says you’re doing wrong. Yes, I hear you mumbling and grunting and groaning. Yes, I may have heard that error message before and know how to fix it. Yes, I will gladly help if you stop your incessant whining and just ask.
My legacy will live on in the form of small carpet coffee stains, willed possessions, step-by-step instructions and hidden ceiling monkeys. (Yes. Will someone please tell Mara? I know she doesn’t read my blog but her monkey is hidden in the ceiling for her.) Jennifer gets my coffee punch card. Mara you can have my emergency zebra print umbrella. David, I leave my skinsational moisture mousse to you. I’ll be taking my delicious salad dressing, my spicy mustard, and my two Uni-ball Signo gel pens.
The step-by-step instructions I’ve composed list all the major duties that I perform on a daily, weekly, biweekly, and monthly basis for my replacement. My goal when writing these processes was to be as simple as possible without omitting any important details, so that the student worker who is lucky enough to take over my position won’t be confused. You may have noticed that I have a knack for making the simplest tasks sound like brain surgery. I tried to sound a little less formal and refrained from using fancy British conjunctions like, “whilst.” For example (an excerpt from my instructions):
“.[..click on: blue hyperlink, View Log/Trace, PDF, print from Acrobat *do not try to run all advises together, PeopleSoft will wig out.]”
I’m a little jealous that the next student worker gets to highlight important dates on the new 2012 calendar. It was one of my favorite tasks next to sending purchase orders.
I dreaded leaving high school. To me, graduation was a daunting obligation that forced me to give up my comfort zone, a place where I knew everyone and was involved with everything. My significant always-on-the-go role in high school gave me a positive sence of self-worth and accomplishment. Upon graduation, I feared that my role would change drastically and become a negligible one. My time spent at the college has, in a way, replaced and paralleled the long hours I that I had spent in my high school. This job and school has allowed me to feel loved and needed. Here, I found a niche, a routine, and a new comfort zone when it was so desperately needed. Working at the college allowed me to foster relationships with employees that I wouldn’t have otherwise developed being just a student. It was a perfect and flexible job for any young adult who has their own agenda and sends their boss an ETA text,* “I’m thinkin’ nine” and gets away with it. They
understood accepted my obsession afinity for garage sales by allowing me to arrive at my leisure on Friday mornings. (Much obliged.) Furthermore, this job has enabled me to live out my, “I’m-On-The-Office-show” fantasy and experience that all-around “office stircraziness.”
So Jennifer D., Ed, Mara, Kim, Jennifer R., Sandy, David, Donna, Paula, Youmna, and Joanne thank you for letting me feel needed and loved. You will be missed.