Joining the insanity

Something I read this morning unaccountably touched a sore spot inside me provoking a weepy episode. In the past, my life was a weepy episode. But they are infrequent now. So instead of accepting it and allowing myself a good wallow, I decided to lay low a bit and figure it out.

Removing cat boxes and beds from the sofa, I lay down by the fire. As always, when I have a low moment, be it physical or mental, Willow knows and seeks me out. But soon Lucy arrived to sit on my tummy with her loud announcements: “nearly lunch time Mom. Don’t take too long!” No sympathy in her. Only orders.

It actually didn’t take too long.

In my bookshelf I have a clip-file of emails that I copied from my computer at work, many years ago. Don’t ask why I kept it. I think I thought one day it might amuse me. Or something. Occasionally I will dip into it, as I did today.

What I found myself reading, took place at the time I was going up and down to Maine at a particularly stressful time. My uncle died, my aunt had to be moved and then she was hospitalized and then she died. All the while, I was under pressure to cope with more and more at work, with no support whatever. In fact, management made my life very difficult by asking me to do non-union work, without informing my colleagues who decided I was a liar.When I remembered all this earlier, it made me realize why I was in such a state, while dealing with my personal problems. My brain was numb. No wonder I couldn’t think straight or feel anything.

This is where the tears came from, but it got me thinking about what a really ghastly choice I made when selecting a job after college.

It seems as if every important thing I have ever done, I have always done under some sort of pressure.

When I graduated college, I was in a panic to get a job because I had college loans to pay back. Yes, I had a little time, but I still had to pay for the roof over my head. I needed work now.

So I applied to work for the airlines, because I thought there was a good change I would be accepted and because it would give me a chance to travel.

Can you believe, in the olden days, even before my time: when a flight was wrapped up and ready to go, all available staff was expected to line up in front of the aeroplane and salute as it pushed back!

Glad they never asked me to do it. Some of those pilots seemed to think they were still in the RAF.

It was only by chance that I ended up where I did.

Initially I got a job with Pan Am. The rotten stinkers told me that at 140 lbs (5’8″) I was too heavy to be in uniform, so I was banished, humiliated, to Hangar 14, down along the Van Wyck Expressway.

At Hangar 14 I didn’t even feel as if I was at an airport. I could see all the traffic going by toward the terminals and I felt like such a loser.

I was given the job of punching IBM cards.

We would get a teletype message from some remote part of the planet where a Pan Am flight had either arrived or departed, and then we had to transcribe the info onto an IBM card.

You had to thread that ribbon into a reader and if you did it correctly, it would decode all those dots into some sort of script.

It can’t remember what happened next, but I had to sit at a machine and punch the decoded information onto IBM cards which were loaded into another machine that calculated crew wages.

So if I messed up, some crew was not very happy.

I hated the job and hated that I wasn’t in the terminal with all the activity. Fool! WHAT was I thinking? However, if I had stayed with Pan Am I would have been laid off as their days were already numbered.

While I was hunting for work, I had somehow found my way to BOAC and secured an application. I submitted it and waited to hear. I wasn’t especially keen to work for them, but my aunt had, in the 50’s, and they were “my” national carrier. Have to start somewhere. I heard nothing, and forgot about it.

One afternoon I got home from work and my uncle told that granny had muddled up a call from BOAC. He thought it was about his upcoming trip to London, but it turned out to be for me. They wanted to interview me!

Shortly thereafter, I left the employ of Pan American, and fulfilled my desire to be part of airport activity. My regret lasted a long time.

While I always acknowledged the many privileges afforded to me by my employer and while I never took for granted that I had a job and medical benefits and that I managed to see some wonderful places I otherwise would not have done; detached as I now am, and looking back through my notes, I realize what a mental beating I took in those many years.

All the ways I had been mentally beaten up since childhood? I was just letting myself in for more of the same thing, though I had no way of recognizing any of that.

My first problem was Uncle…

6 thoughts on “Joining the insanity

  1. So crazy that at 140 lbs and 5’8″ you were to heavy to be in uniform.
    That to me is just stupid of Pan Am.
    Thanks for sharing this part of your life.
    Sometimes memories get really get us down but remember, tomorrow is a brand new day and we never know what it might bring ~ hopefully joy! šŸ™‚

  2. No wonder you hated that job! Did they also count the pounds on the male pilots and other employees? I bet the answer is NO.

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