For 30 years, I sat at a 1970s modular desk, staring at a fabric-wallpaper wall. A little slit of a window half-buried behind the rack of dot-matrix printers was the only indication of an outside world. Then, one day, the company went out of business, my desk was sold in a large auction lot, probably used for scrap, because it was so heavy. I was free to go, and after finding out how willing businesses are to talk to a 60-year-old about employment, (they're not interested - really they're not), it was decided that my lifetime of skills was best put to use as an office temp.
An entire world opened up to me. The things I had been teaching myself in my windowless void were all job skills that allowed me to fill in as a temporary worker anywhere with minimal training. Telephone, computer, Excel, mail processing, graphic layout, digital imaging, it all came into play. Each assignment presented its own new challenges and opportunities. It has never paid much, but it's all I can get so far. I love the work, and I love the people I meet along the way.
So, last Thursday I took the bus downtown, a half-hour early so I could sip coffee in the cafeteria for awhile and watch the sun rise over downtown before going up to work. There are dress codes, and everybody looks professional, cogs in the vast urban machine. Then up to my work-station on the 13th floor. This week I'm a digital imager, in a white cubicle right next to an 8-foot high window overlooking Milwaukee's Downtown-East. The glorious sunshine of a Milwaukee Thursday morning bursting through the window, making everything brilliant.
The office manager stopped by just after I arrived. "Hey, Gary, just so you know, tomorrow is a casual day - you can wear jeans to work. Man, that's so bright - you can lower the blind, you know..."
Derek (not his name) didn't understand my answer. Dress casual after working 30 years in a dark dank hole in West Allis? Shut out the sunshine of a brilliant new day of opportunity?
What I said was, "No thanks, Derek. I'm livin' the dream!"
Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.
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