Today is the 43rd anniversary of the day Bob and I fell in love. And tonight we will wine and dine to celebrate. My husband is still a romantic, and I definitely love him for that -- and for so many more things for that matter. But, lately I've been very preoccupied with things work related -- actually not about actual work but reminiscing about my long work history, probably brought on by the goodbye speech I have to make when I retire.
I know that’s several weeks from now, but I’ve been working on it anyway. What I’ve come up with is a list of things that I’ve experienced in the company since I’ve been involved with it – that is not to say that I’ve worked here all that time. I started in 1963 and I’m retiring in 2010, but I did not work in this place straight through for 46 years. There were long patches of time when I was gone from the company. What's so is that I hired in five times and will have left voluntarily four times. The first time I had to leave because I was laid off with about 50% of the company. That was when Bob decided to rescue me and marry me. He actually first said he’d take care of me, but I was independent even then. I had gotten myself another job out in Azusa and was prepared to go ahead and take it. But he wouldn’t let me. So, we got married. That will be 40 years ago this coming May.
So, there’s been a lot of time to think about – 46 years worth, though I don’t feel old enough to have lived through them all. I can still remember what I wore the first day of work back on July 16, 1963. I had short dark brown hair and I wore a turquoise blue linen suit. The skirt was straight and short, the jacket was boxy, and the sleeves came down just to my elbows. I of course wore the mandatory girdle and nylon stockings and 3-inch stiletto pumps that all of girls wore in those days. I’m lucky I got away with it without the crooked toes and bunions that so many women in my generation have. I was just 23 years old and so eager and shy and ready to take on the world.
Very soon I realized that women and men weren’t treated equally at the company I had just joined. I had a college degree and was hired in non-exempt. The men in my department whether they had degrees or not were classified exempt. Plus they were lazy. We women did all the work. Even our boss spent most of the day sitting in the corner of his office smoking and dozing from the effects of all the alcohol he consumed. His face was always red. I don’t remember having one one-on-one conversation with him. His assistant, a woman, took on all things regarding personnel and work scheduling. She of course was non-exempt too. The only time we ever really interacted as a group was the day JFK was assassinated. We all stood at the door of his office listening to the news on his radio.
Three years after I hired in I was asked to be in a class action suit with other women in my company. If we won we’d get the same job classifications as the men. Well, we won. We got exempt status. But we still didn’t get equal pay. Instead we got a little $10 a week pay bump to make up for all the overtime we wouldn’t be eligible to get anymore. Hmm. So, was the suit worth winning or not? At the time I didn’t think so, but in the last few years I feel like my pay rate has finally caught up. Anyhow, I’m okay with what I make now.
And, now we even get a women’s history month. Of course the men get the other 11 months of the year, but at least the women get one. Perhaps by the time the little children grow up there will be real equality in the workplace between men and women. I’m sure I’ll never see it in my lifetime.
Enough about work. In fact, I’m looking forward to not writing about work at all pretty soon. I’ll just be writing. I feel like I have a good first draft of the first chapter of my novel. I’m just stuck in places where I need to fill in real data, and I haven't found out where to get it yet. Well, in due time. Like Jessica said, once I’m retired the real work of my novel will begin.
In the meantime, happy 43rd anniversary to us!