Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Flag Day

This isn’t just any old flag day for me. Today marks the 30th anniversary of my employment with the law firm. Yikes. (In fast succession I will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of my graduation from college and my 35th anniversary of graduation from high school. Maybe it’s time I went in for a check up.)

In some ways it doesn’t seem that long ago that I joined the ranks of the employed. And in some ways it seems like three lifetimes ago. When I entered the doors of the law firm 30 years ago today, I was the kid. Not only that, I was a kid with a college education, one of only a few of the clerical staff that had those credentials. I took a lot of grief from the old-timers for that. They wanted me to know that my education didn’t mean squat to them, so don’t get the big head over it.

All the work then was done by typewriter, with triple carbon packs. If I had a dollar for every suit petition and judgment I typed in the first 5 years I worked there, I could be looking at early retirement right now. Even our tax notices were typed by hand, filling in the blanks of a form produced on a liquid duplicating machine. Anybody else out there remember creating stencils (praying that you made no errors), carefully pouring ink, and cranking out copies until your arm ached? Ah, the good old days.

Now I’m the old lady of the firm. Only two other people in the entire company have more seniority than I. One is the man who was my primary boss for the first 5 years of employment. The other is a man who has gone on to head a sister company, so really there is only one person at the firm who has more seniority.

I’m the age right now that the staff supervisor who hired me was at that time. I remember thinking she was holding up fairly well for her advanced age. I wonder if the youngsters on our present staff look at me the same way. Most of them nowadays have a college education and all the work today is produced on computers and laser printers. If you don’t feel up to coming into work, you can work at home by connecting to the office network. (Thirty years ago, you had to produce a death certificate to warrant a day of sick leave. I can’t imagine they would have trusted us to actually work at home.)

Times have changed. I don’t know if we even have a typewriter in the building anymore. We had to ask permission to make a long distance call back then. Now, with email, we communicate all over the planet in the twinkling of an eye. Back in the good old days, we had to manually process every letter that went out. Today, a client can ftp their file in the morning and conceivably have 10,000 letters mailed in their behalf the same day.

Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday that my college roommate called and gave me the information that a friend of theirs was looking for a secretary. But it seems like a lifetime ago that I took the job that morphed into accounting positions, management positions and data processing positions over the ensuing 30 years. Back then, retirement seemed like a misty target. Now it is rapidly coming into focus.

I guess I’m one of the rare ones. People in our parents’ generation routinely took a job and held on to it until retirement. I don’t know many people these days who take a job with any kind of intention to stay more than a few years before moving on to greener pastures.

I have regrets, yes. But all in all it’s been an interesting journey. And to close, the lyrics of a song from “New York, New York”, that I just discovered yesterday:

Sometimes you're happy, sometimes you're sad
But the world goes 'round
Sometimes you lose every nickel you had
But the world goes 'round
Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces
But that doesn't alter a thing
Take it from me, there's still gonna be
A summer, a winter, a fall and a spring
And sometimes a friend starts treating you bad
But the world goes 'round
And sometimes your heart breaks with a deafening sound
Somebody loses and somebody wins
And one day it's kicks, then it's kicks in the shins
But the planet spins, and the world goes 'round-
But the world goes 'round.

The world has gone around almost 11,000 times since I walked in the doors of the law firm. Here’s to the next year.

No comments: