Friday, April 17, 2015
O is for OCCUPATIONS
I always think of occupations as professions, but I found in the dictionary that an occupation can be a job. So . . . in my nearly seventy-five years, I have had two professions and four jobs, equaling six occupations, I guess. That’s surely not many, is it? Our granddaughter, who is only twenty-seven, has had many more jobs than that. My professions are the important parts of this post, so let me tell you about my jobs
The first job that I had was in my dad’s Auto-Lec store in Pensacola in the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. I worked from 8:00 to 6:00 every day, waiting on customers and taking payments. Our fledgling business demanded that my parents have other jobs, so I worked with Dale Godbold, my dad’s only employee besides me. My dad was there part of the time, and he always said that my job was really to watch the TVs so that no one would steal them. He was partially right because I really did spend a lot of time at the front of the store, especially near noon, when I knew that John Mixon, the cute boy who worked in the meat market at Jitney Jungle, would walk by going on his lunch break.
My second job was at Mississippi College, when I was a junior. My favorite English teacher was Sue Price Lipsey, Mrs. Lipsey to me. She was the best teacher that I had at MC, and I took pride in making good grades in her classes. When she asked me to be her grader, I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven. I don’t even remember the pittance that I was paid for grading all those papers, but the amount of money wasn’t the important thing. Getting to work for Mrs. Lipsey was pay enough.
The next job that I had was also at MC. During the months before Frank and I married, I looked for a job on campus. One finally came available. I became the Veterans’ Clerk and worked in that position in the Registrar’s Office. Now that job was an eye opener. An older lady in the office made it her business to make my life miserable an to try to get me to quit. When I found out on Saturday when she wasn’t working that she did that to every young woman who came to work there, I dug in my heels and determined that she would not run me off. Frank and I needed that $200 per month that I made. Eventually, she liked me and couldn’t do enough nice things for me. Go figure. I guess she admired those that she couldn’t get the best of.
And then, just after I started work on my master’s degree, I was awarded a teaching fellowship in the English Department. I taught two classes during the semester, one on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and one on Tuesday and Thursday. Both were English 101, and I loved the teaching and the experience. I was paid the tremendous amount of $1000 for the year, $500 per semester. Frank and I were rolling in the dough!
My first profession was that of a teacher, my real calling. I began my teaching career in Pascagoula, Mississippi, having been assigned two skills level and three average level tenth-grade English classes. I taught at Pascagoula High School for two years, then in the county system out in Vancleave, Mississippi, for one. The last school where I taught in Mississippi was at Jackson County Junior College. I loved college teaching, but I was really a high school teacher.
When we moved to Pensacola, my hometown, so that Frank could work in my parents’ store in preparation for being the owner someday, I applied for and got a job at Woodham High School, where I taught and served as the English Department Chair for twenty-eight years. My deep-seated love for teaching and loving seniors was developed at Woodham. It was truly my home away from home, and my life as a teacher blossomed there.
After our son Jay died in July 1992, I began to feel that I wanted to do something else before they (whoever “they” are) put me out to pasture. I needed a life change. And so I searched for and found a job with McDougal Littell Publishing Company as a sales representative in 1996. For seven years, I traveled the highways and byways of Florida from Pensacola to St. Petersburg and loved working with teachers, convincing hundreds of them to adopt and purchase our textbooks. Frank managed to hold down the home front while I pursued my new career.
Since our daughter, Wendy, was our only child now, we decided that when I retired we’d move to New Mexico to be near her and her family. And so . . . in July 2003, I officially retired from McDougal, and we moved, with me intending never to work away from home again. I don’t think I was meant to be a homemaker, and Frank understood my feelings. When I suggested seventy-nine days after my retirement that I’d like to go back to work for the same company as a consultant, he thought that might be a good idea. And so began my work in New Mexico, again traveling the highways and byways and visiting with teachers, selling textbooks.
As my mother-in-law used to say . . . and there you have it – the history of my work in the wide world. And do you know something? I’ve never had a job that I didn’t like, and I’ve never had a boss who didn’t treat me fairly. Something else . . . In about three weeks, I’ll be seventy-five, and I’m still working for that same textbook company, albeit it has changed a bit in name and in approach to selling textbooks. These days, I work mainly from home, doing my presentations via the Internet. I’ve learned a lot about technology during my time as a sales rep and consultant, but I’m beginning to feel that I need to know too much about it. I probably won’t be working for too much longer, may a year or so. During that short time, I’ll continue to love textbooks and teachers and schools. Though I feel some days that I want to retire completely, I can’t imagine what life will be like not doing what I’ve done for fifty-one years . . . either teaching young people language arts or teaching their teachers about new books.