Friday, February 29, 2008

My First Real Job

Yesterday, I mentioned that the job I was recently offered was not what I had in mind.



My jobs have never been what I had in mind.



I went to Catholic schools for 12 years. I spent the last 4 of those years at a College Prep High School. It was assumed by everyone, including me, that I would go to college and then either become a teacher, biding time until I got married and raised the requisite 2 to 4 kids in the nice little house in the suburb with the white picket fence, or join the convent.



Yeah.



2 weeks after High School graduation, with my choice of scholarships to use at one of the two universities between which I was still wavering, while my mom and sister were back in Iowa visiting relatives, I met my first husband.



By the time Mom got back, I was in LUV! I didn't need to go to college. I just needed to get married and voila! the nice little house in the suburbs with the white picket fence was mine. After a lot of fit throwing (mine) and screaming (my parents') and fit throwing (mine), I WON!



We were married in November. We were separated by the following June up until the part where I found out I was pregnant. We reconciled and celebrated our first anniversary in November, 1 week before my oldest daughter was born.



The following April, when my baby was 4 months old and I had been married for almost a year and a half, we were in a horrendous traffic accident. My husband died the next day (Easter Sunday) as a result of his injuries and my daughter had 11 skull fractures. I received relatively minor injuries and was treated and released. The people in the other car, the driver of which was found totally at fault, walked away.



All of this is in preface to my first job. I had no job skills. I had no college degree. I had nothing but a ton of bills, a sick baby, and a need to work.



I applied at the Police Department in a neighboring town to be a "Community Service Officer". The job description sounded like something I could do - hold burglary prevention seminars, talk to school kids about safety and not talking to strangers, doing home inspections and suggesting ways to make homes safer and more secure. No previous training needed. Hurray.



This was in the early 1970s and I was hired for many reasons, not the least of which was womens' lib. I have never been a strident womens' libber but the Department needed to up their quota of women. I was, as a 20 year old widow with a baby, a very sympathetic person to put on public display.



This job was a gift from God. From CSO, I became the Department's first female Cadet, their first female Reserve Officer, and one of their first female Dispatchers. Oh sure, when I first started working there, some of the officers, who are notorious flirts, thought they had struck pay dirt. All they knew was that I was a single mom. This was back when divorce was not common and divorcees also had a certain reputation, whether deserved or not. As soon as the guys found out that I was a widow, though, I had 67 big brothers.



I was exposed to a lot that I had never learned in Catholic school! However, I was exposed to it in as sheltered an atmosphere as possible. This was back when women, all women, were protected from most of the unpleasantries of life. I learned a lot, too. I learned everything! how to answer a multi-line phone, how to use a two-way radio, how to use the teletype machine, how to speak to people in crisis, how to prioritize calls, how to handle the front-counter traffic, how to testify in court, etc.



The most important things that I learned were these. I like to help people. I am capable of taking care of myself and my child(ren). I had terrific reaction times and handled stress well. I like my job and I was good at it.

This job, although not always at the same Department, stood me in good stead through two failed marriages, another child and a move across state. It is what I was doing when I met, and didn't fall in love with, my current husband. I was never gonna fall in love again.





Coming soon - you wanna move where?

20 comments:

ChrisB said...

Sandy that was terrific post and I may have to wait a week until I get back from visiting my daughter to read the next installment!

lisa marie said...

Wow! I was shocked when I read that your husband died. Ouch! What an interesting job! And your daughter is wonderful now, right?!

Sandy said...

ChrisB - Thanks

Lisa - It was an interesting job. If I didn't think that my reaction times had slowed over the years, I would still be applying for that job.

My daughter is 34 and absolutely perfect. The doctors said that her age at the time of the accident (4 mos) actually probably saved her. The soft spots in her head probably absorbed a great deal of the impact.

Karmyn R said...

What a tough way to have to "grow up"! Losing someone so young. You were lucky to find such a great job!

Irish Coffeehouse said...

A family of adopted big brothers are the best aren't they? =)

Isn't it amazing how we think prayers go unanswered ("that" job)? When in reality, they are just answered differently than we wanted- many times better than we could ever hope for (first Cadet, Reserve Officer, etc.)!

anglophilefootballfanatic said...

I think I have even more respect for you than I did before...and that was hard to surpass. Wow. I'm very proud of your dedication to your daughter and your willingness to persevere. You should get an award. Twenty with a child and widowed? Wow.

Kim said...

What a story.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

That's an incredible story. What a way to have to stand on your own two feet. Wow.

I bet it made you stronger than you ever thought you could be.

Robinella said...

Good Lord, woman, that's some story. I'll be checking in just to read the rest.

-Ann said...

Fantastic story. I cannot imagine being at widow and single mom at 20. It sounds like you landed in a great job. can't wait to read the rest.

bermudabluez said...

Wow. You were forced to grow up. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I am very glad to hear that you liked the job and that your daughter is perfect today. Looking forward to reading more...

Willowtree said...

Well shit! I didn't see that one coming!!

You could easily get a three part series out of it.

Pamela said...

I always enjoy your posts. This one caught me off guard - as I sign on with the list of people who didn't know you were widowed at such a young age.

SOOOO looking forward to more of your story.

(I agree with WT... there is much between the lines that could have stretched this story out for some time.)

tiger lamb girl said...

I also didn't see that coming. How amazing that you and your daughter survived the accident!!

I just keep learning more and more about you (and other blog-friends):).

Alison said...

great post Sandy!!! I love learning about my fellow bloggers' lives...can't wait for the next installment!!

Sayre said...

I just keep getting more and more impressed with you. I remember myself at 20, newly married. God, I was an idiot. I too forewent college in favor of LUV - but my story turned out far differently.

You have been tested so strenuously - He must have known you would need great strength and so gave it to you.

Arkansas Songbird said...

What an amazing story. I admire your strength and perseverance. And God truly does hold us in the palm of His hand!

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