Monday, February 05, 2007

A Memory

Once upon a time, about 19 years ago, I lost a job and was mostly happy about it.

I had just started work that Monday on my first job as a travel agent, in a little agency in a shopping mall. Something was wrong, though. The couple that ran the travel agency was mildly unpleasant, demanding, uncommunicative, unsupportive. I was left alone all day with one other agent, who tried to show me the ropes.

My mom was visiting from Florida at the time, along with my Aunt Flora. They had been in Tucson for Christmas, and now planned to go to Guadalajara. My aunt was about to back out on the trip out of fear of altitude sickness - but I didn't know that yet.

Meanwhile, I happened to be rereading my way through Madeleine L'Engle's novels, something I generally did whenever a new one came out. There may not have been a new one on this occasion. It could be that I simply wanted to retreat from a job I already hated, and escape into the world of Meg Murry and Vicky Austin.

I was fresh out of travel agent school. The head of the school, Mary G., had told us that the professional thing to do, the way not to get labeled as a job-hopper, was to give even a job you didn't like at least a year.

Five days in, I was thinking that I had 51 weeks to go before I could quit this job that was making me miserable. All I wanted to do was go home and read.

But on Saturday of that awful week, or maybe Sunday, I was working. I got to the end of the day, and waited to be told what time they wanted me to come in on Monday.

That's when they said that they'd made a mistake, that one of their long-time employees had threatened to quit unless she was transferred up to their Tucson location instead of Sierra Vista. They didn't need my services after all.

My first reaction was,"Oh, good. Now I'll have more time to read."

My second way, "Oh, good. I don't have to wait another 51 weeks to leave this job I hate."

My third was, "What slimeballs! How can they treat me this way? How can they treat anyone this way?"

But I said I understood, told them goodbye and left. The next day or the day after, I was on a plane to Guadalajara. But that's another story.

My current job is not like that first travel agency job. I was with that tiny company for a week and hated it, and was just starting out learning to do the work. I've been with Unnamed Largish Company for over a year and a half, with people I like and bosses who appreciate me. I like the job very much, and most of the time I know what I'm doing.

But it's stressful in its own way, especially at this time of year. I'm an accountant, not a CPA but an accountant, and Year-End is a stressful, busy time, in which the numbers must be reconciled, and delinquent tasks caught up. That was true at Worldwide Travel, and it's true at ULC. And no, it has basically nothing to do with income taxes. Income taxes are something someone else compiles, after I and others give them the final numbers. I decided long ago not to give you specifics on what I do at ULC; you'll have to be satisfied with my vague explanation. But you see the problem. Worldwide Travel was tough enough, and a larger company has many more numbers to deal with. Thank goodness I don't have to keep track of anything but my particular pieces of the puzzle.

But at the end of a seven-day work week on too little sleep, all I wanted to do today was finish reading a L'Engle book. I did get some work done at the office, but not enough. I'll have to do better tomorrow. Maybe if I can get some sleep this week, I'll be more productive, too.

I sure hope so. I need to be.


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