New again

Having apparently graduated from High School, I found myself accepted by Adelphi University where I was a “new” girl, a freshman, “frosh” with no status at all, – once again. It was like being constantly told , having arrived at the front of the queue to return to the back and start all over.

I was expected to wear a beanie, to advertise the fact that I was this lowly individual who should be hazed. “Nuts to that”, I muttered, tossing my beanie aside. I decided I would try to blend in which wasn’t difficult, as everybody else was running around doing what college kids do, I suppose.

Anyway, who had time for all that stuff.

My new job was in a factory somewhere just off Jericho Turnpike in Syosset. I think I found it by looking in the newspaper. The job involved assembling printed circuit boards and small electrical items. I was interviewed by the boss, who was a pleasant seeming man from Germany, named Bruno. He would have accepted anyone, but I didn’t know it at the time!

Putting things together was something I could do. As a child I loved playing with mechano and mini bricks, and I used to build houses out of shoeboxes for my little ceramic animals. (“Whimseys”)

So after watching a few demonstrations, I was happy to sit on my stool and mind my own business. The factory had an evening shift which worked out well, and I got a raise! Now I was earning $1.50 an hour. I managed to work twenty hours a week which kept me busy, but I still had to live “at home”.

The work was not hard. Most of the workers came out from Brooklyn every day in a mini bus. I think the factory had been located there originally.

The Brooklyn gang of course all knew one another and they chattered away in Spanish most of the time. A couple of older women did not speak Spanish. I had the impression they may have previously been floor supervisors. They were tough, but friendly.

Everyone got on fine, except that one of the guys sort of liked young girls a bit too much.

By now I knew only too well to be distrustful of men, so I did my best to avoid contact. But one day I needed to go in to a closed room to do something with the device I was working on and “Romeo” followed me in. I fast-stepped around the counter as he closed in on me, trying to grab a feel.

Fortunately, the older ladies knew all about “Romeo ” and his moves, and one of them had seen him follow me into the room. She opened the door suddenly and told the man to leave. In such a public place, I don’t imagine he could have done anything drastic but I didn’t want his hands on me, so I was grateful for the help.

In future I wasn’t given jobs that would take me into that room. In fact, I was used as a sort of courier. I got sent out to other factories to pick-up or deliver packages.

I also became a sort of fix-it girl. Quality control on the factory floor was about nil, with the result that the items we sent out quite often didn’t meet specs at the receiving factories. I didn’t think my work was all that special but I was the one who was sent to do all the fixing up of the rejected circuit boards. I guess I was considered “spare”.

When I arrived at those factories, which were here and there all over Long Island, I got some very funny looks. Apparently that kind of work was not something most college students did and I suppose they weren’t expecting someone so young with a funny accent. However, they gave me a stool and a work station and that was that.

Most of my small salary was spent on groceries for the house, with just enough left over to put gas in the car. To cover my college fees I managed to obtain a couple of grants and a college loan. Presumably I was a good bet!

It was all going very well. And then the factory laid off the night shift.

Oh dear

5 thoughts on “New again

  1. Isn’t that the way things usually go? Just when you think you have it all figured out, the bottom falls out. I can’t wait to hear of your next employment venture.

    Incidentally, I spent one long week in 1962 working on an assembly line, putting resistors in entertainment centers. I had to tape up my hands because the pliers that I held all day long caused blisters on my palms and thumbs.Then, I found out that while the women made $1.05, the men, doing the same work, made $1.25. One week was all it took to tell me that I wasn’t cut out for that kind of work!

    1. In the mid ’70s I worked in a bank. The manager discovered someone under her, a man, received more money than she did. Carol about blew a gasket. It was a very common practice maybe still is. I was Head Teller. A guy who worked the desk used to open the night drop with me. He carried a flask with hard liquor and took a few slugs at 8:30 AM when we opened that vault. I didn’t know whether to s*@t or go blind the first time he did it bold as brass as the nuns said right in the open! I had been so programmed not to rat on anyone never told a soul at the bank. Figured if they couldn’t smell it on him it was their problem. Looking back, poor soul glad I don’t have that monkey on my back.

  2. My uncle was an alcoholic and had several jobs that involved driving. Including school bus! Times have really changed and in that way certainly for the better. Fortunately he never hurt anyone else, just himself once.

    1. A few years ago I had to pass a drug test to cashier at Home Depot! I can see it in a way, working with money. They we’re so very desperate for help they hired felons as long as they passed the drug test. I’m not saying that people don’t deserve a chance, they do, but the manager wasn’t a very good judge of character. Or maybe he just needed a body. That job lasted two years. Ugh. Teaching yoga now. Fun!

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