In honor of Labor Day, I thought it would be interesting to post a little challenge about “work.” This is not at all like the “book challenge” circulating at present on Facebook. Perhaps you have participated. Basically, someone nominates you. Then for seven days you post the picture of the book cover from a book you have read. No reviews, no descriptions. Just books you love. Hope I didn’t dump any bad karma on the challenge. I posted seven book covers all right; just not exactly in seven consecutive days.

But enough about books. Let’s get back to the labor challenge … good old-fashioned kind of work. Do your kids know what kinds of jobs you had back in the days when the dinosaurs roamed the earth? With all the changes to technology over the decades, they might be surprised like one of those bugs when the kitchen lights are turned on in the middle of the night. I feel certain that just describing office equipment like 10-key adders, mimeograph machines and my personal favorite, that trendsetter at the time, the IBM Selectric typewriter, might blow the tops off their little craniums.

Oh … let me linger a moment on the legendary IBM Selectric. I loved that typewriter. While it came in several different colors, the one I typed on for a couple of years was baby blue. A shiny metal ball held all the typewriter characters. The ball spun around and around as the tips of my fingers lightly touched the keyboard. Obviously, it was 15 steps up from the old Underwood typewriter I learned and banged keys on with the force of a hammer. Yep … typing on that IBM beauty reminded me of a Mozart symphony as my fingers flew across the keyboard at 80 words per minute. Obviously, I do not have a refined ear for music, but you get my drift.

My first real job was at a soda-bottling plant. I was a senior in high school and worked part time after school as a file clerk in the accounts receivable department. It was my first time to punch a time clock in and out. The clock was located down a long hallway opposite the bottling line, an interesting, noisy place. I worked in the office and filed customer’s monthly statements into their individual file folders. Most of the folders held just one piece of paper. I made $2.75 per hour. After graduation, I went to work there full time, filing the same paper statements.

There were some real characters working in that office. Oh, did I mention this was back in the day when smokers were allowed to huff and puff in the office? There was this one lady with teased black hair like a poodle. She was in charge of all the chain grocery and convenience stores like Piggly Wiggly, Weingarten’s and 7-Eleven. It was a wonder to watch her work. She chain-smoked all day long and furiously punched her 10-key adding machine. Her flying fingers only stopped to linger on a puff or tap the ashes. By the end of the day, the length of paper produced was epic. She was so proud of the billows of adding machine tape … and the amount of ashes in her lunchbox-sized ash tray.

It was her job to correct any mistakes on the route tickets. If the errors were not corrected, the chain store would not pay their entire bill and the controller would stand at her desk and have a fit. This happened almost daily. She was a great distraction while I filed my customer statements into their file folders.

Work – while it doesn’t define who we are today – it is interesting to reflect on where we have been.

Dixie Frantz
Author: Dixie FrantzWebsite: Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
I am a long-time Houstonian in love with writing, blogging, travel, quilting and reading. I have written “You Gotta Laugh,” a humorous newspaper column, for the past 21 years. The columns showcase the funny, amusing and sometimes touching slices of life from the suburbs. My writing credentials include more than 430 humorous columns, features and travel stories for hoabinhre Newspaper.