My first job is one that I won’t forget for a variety of reasons. It is not because it was my first job. It is not because of the crazy owner who called all of my clients to confirm that my call reports were accurate or because he screamed at me when I asked if I could get a computer. It is not even because of my officemate who used to make up stories about the inflatable panda on top of the Panda Express across the street.
It is because of all these things and so much more that this job sticks out in my mind. I was in my early twenties and fresh out of school. I didn’t know much about working in an office and was probably a bit naive about office politics. It never occurred to me that there were people who weren’t working there for the good of the company.
I just assumed that it was a team effort. If we all worked together we would be more successful and surely more success meant more good things for all of us. It was a nice theory.
But it was just a theory. It didn’t take into account that the two men who owned the company had a combined age of 187 or that their best years and those of the company took place twenty years before I came on board.
It didn’t take into account that the company was happy to pay for houses and cars for the children of the owners, regardless of whether they actually showed up to work.
When they hired me I was told that I would have the opportunity to use everything I learned in college, to make use of my degree. They painted a rosy picture of a place that had a great future. It was a small company with big opportunity.
Back in those days I hadn’t yet developed a good nose for determining truth versus fiction. When I look back now it is easy to see how they made promises that were unlikely to ever come true.
They didn’t lie to me, but unless the family members decided to go find other sources of employment there wasn’t anywhere to go. And let’s be real, if you could surf in the morning, take a long lunch, nap and then go home at five would you look for a new job? Probably not.
It took a while, but I began to figure it out. I realized that this joint wasn’t going to be the only place I worked. Initially it wasn’t easy to accept. My father worked for one company. He held different positions there, but it was one company.
So the idea that I wasn’t going to be able to follow his example bothered me. I felt a bit like a failure. That may sound ridiculous, but it is true. My dad was my role model. He went to work, day in and day out. Always supported his family. He didn’t retire until I was in my thirties.
Many years have passed since I held that job. And in that time I have worked at a number of places in a number of different positions. It doesn’t faze me anymore. It is the way things are and part of why I got involved in a variety of side projects.
One of these days I’ll have write about those. There are some good stories.