I had my first office job in San Francisco, c. 1959. Typing insurance policies. On forms with six carbon copies. Before computers, before, before, before. Electric typewriters with variable-space characters were brand new, and a bane on us because W took up 3 more spaces than L did, so erasing was a huge problem. Another year or so and along came typewriters with a stick’em ribbon that lifted type off the page. Then one (me) could type over a whole line of the mistakes and so it went and I went from dayjob to dayjob to dayjob. Could it really be forty years? Twenty of them were at my last place of employ.
I am now a civilian. I can wear mufti. I can meet you for coffee. I can go to the movies in the afternoon. I’m still learning how to breathe and how to live with the fact that there isn’t enough TIME. Every damn day, not ever enough time.
Much as I liked aspects of my former job –and I did, mostly the contact with people trying variously to get along with a truly impossible neurological disease– and the challenges of editing to make copy both evenhanded and smart— I had and have deep reservations about the role of voluntary nonprofit health agencies like the one I worked for. Those reservations may account for how little I miss my attachment.
And after so many years of devotion to other people and things, how much I now relish that I can focus on me and on the extraordinary work of Basil King, with whom I’ve spent so much of my life.