There are times in life we know something important is happening or about to happen in our immediate life: high school graduation; the first day of college; meeting the person we will love; etc. But there are times that the unexpected happens and something, maybe small maybe large, happens we will treasure forever.
October 17, 1977 could have been just another day in my life. I was taking grad classes at The New School in poli sci and wondering what I was going to do with a fairly useless Masters when a friend, David, asked me if I wanted to apply for a job in the company he was temping at. He was convinced that the supervisors and co-workers were anti-Semitic and wanted my input. I just wanted a job. There was a recession that had begun in 73 and wasn’t going to end until 82. For the first time we had stagflation and there were more college grads than there were “suitable” jobs for especially in New York and Boston, the only two cities I truly knew.
The interview was short and sweet as the job was supposed to last six weeks. I would be coding documents on anyone or all of 40+ suits against AT&T, then the only real phone company. The largest case was The Department of Justice who was suing AT&T for being a monopoly. AT&T and its subsidiaries, especially Western Electric had factored out the coding to the company I would work for Aspen Systems. If a Western Electric employee coded documents they were paid at least $25,000 a year plus benefits. We were paid $5.00 an hour, no benefits. But $5.00 an hour was enough to pay my rent with money left over.
And together David and I were going to uncover anti-Semitism. TheNam war was over; I needed a cause. My college friends in Boston had scattered all over the globe. It wasn’t that I was sick of my New York college friends, but I wanted more friends. My best girl friend Shelby had gotten every girl she knew but me a job at her publishing company. It was a gesture that spoke volumes. Our friendship had always been tempestuous. Years before, for a brief moment during the Watergate hearings we had been roommates in Sea Cliff, LI. She threw a crystal ashtray at me; I threw it back.
The ashtray had been a gift to me but she ended up with it. Like Shelby it was very beautiful. She probably thought she deserved it. I didn’t speak to her for almost two years. But like the cliff swallows of Capistrano, I seemed to unwittingly find my way back to Shelby. I was sick of it.
At 27 I was already divorced. The summer of 77 had been one of the craziest ever in New York and I was glad to be alive to talk about it.
My new temp job was downtown; across the street from Saint Paul’s. Much later it would become famous for being a refuge for 9/11 workers. Then it was the adjunct church to Trinity and a beautiful building to look at during work.
I loved training. AT&T had a well deserved rep for being one of the best corporate trainers. I was in a group of twelve; the next week we would join 228 other coders plus supervisors and managers in a large room on the fourth floor. To get into the fourth floor we needed a card key, the second I had ever seen. Our card keys had our picture on them along with identifying information. I so wish I hadn’t lost as it was the one picture ID I truly loved. I could and did look at that picture for hours.
Who was that girl? I wish I known to treasure her; to respect both her body and her mind for it was a sharp one. As usual I downplayed my accomplishments. Excelling at training? It was easy. Too easy. A trained parrot could read the documents and put the required info onto the document control sheets.
The Yankees won the 77 World Series that Wednesday. They hadn’t won a world series since the early 60’s and had been given one ticker tape parade for a series they had lost. This ticker tape parade would be the first one for a series they actually won.
I joined some coworkers and watched it from the main floor’s windows. People kept smiling at me and saying hello. This is a horrible admission but I expected people to be friendly, to want to know me. I wouldn’t have known how to start a conversation if somebody didn’t begin one with me. I wouldn’t have known that a guy wanted to date me if he didn’t blurt it out.
David was one of the few single straight men I didn’t date at Aspen. Six weeks turned into three years and then I worked for a spin off, with promotion after promotion. I forgot to look for anti-Semites as I made friend after friend, and slowly extracted myself from Shelby and her world.
This sounded so good when I wrote it in my head yesterday. The words were perfect for it so I can’t blame them. This memoir is driving me bonkers. I know so much is in my blog–needs much editing but first the HTML in the older posts needs cleaning and I’m going to have bite the bullet and pay way too much money. I really love writing fiction but won’t let myself until this is finished. I’m going to have my own NaMem__month! I’m sorry that this doesn’t flow the way I would like it to. Any suggestions are more than valued.
My book’s about an imperfect girl who lived in New York in the 70′s and 80′s and often felt that her life was one huge fairy tale. She didn’t take the roads more traveled or the straight roads with the great pavements and wonderful lighting (interstates, I guess) but the windy curvy side roads that often lead you to someplace new and not necessarily great, or even more magnificent than you could imagine. It’s also about a girl, the same one, who has an invisible disability but she didn’t know she was “disabled” until her late 30’s and didn’t know the name until three years ago. By necessity it goes into childhood to show how the problems first manifested.
I don’t want to make this a “disability” memoir as while my life was affected by the disability I lived, worked and played in an “able” society, with the “able” society’s rules. Perhaps this was unfair but I like to think it made me more interesting. Hence the problems will usually be on the side, unstated and occasionally take center stage