Posted by: abbiewatters | August 9, 2011

Working Life

How did you decide what you wanted to do with your life? – I don’t know that I ever “decided” what I wanted to do with my life. I just always expected to go to college, get married, and have a family. I don’t think I ever thought much about doing anything else. Of course, in those days (growing up in the ’50s and ’60s) that’s what ALL girls did and were expected to do.

How do you feel about that choice? – Looking back at my “choice” from this end I sometimes wish I had had the opportunity to make a choice. I probably would have been a preacher if they had been ordaining women in those days. I briefly flirted with the idea of Christian Education, and might have transferred to the School of Christian Education in Richmond, VA, connected with Union Seminary, if I hadn’t met and married Big Al. If all else had been equal, and women had all the opportunities available to them then that they have now, I probably would have gone into Engineering like my father and grandfather before me. As it is, I am quite content with my life as I’ve lived it.

What was your first job? – My VERY first job was babysitting. I started out babysitting for Mama when I was about 12 years old, and by the time I was 15 I had several regular “clients” that I worked for. I usually had a babysitting job every weekend, and some nights during the week. When I was in 9th grade, they built a new junior high school in Westfield, and they didn’t have it finished by the time school started so we spent the fall going half-days in the afternoon (the other half of town that was going to the new school went in the morning). I had a babysitting job every morning that fall. I earned $.35 an hour until I turned 16, and then I raised my rates to $.50 an hour.

What did you like or not like about it? – I wasn’t really fond of taking care of little kids, but I had plenty of experience as the oldest of four in our family. And the money wasn’t wonderful, but it was decent.

What job did you do most of your life? What did you like most about it? Least? – Now this is where the cheese gets binding, as Papa would say. I’ve done so many things that my resume would be 15 pages long if I talked about all of them. Remember I was an Air Force wife, and we moved all the time, so I never had the opportunity to settle down to a “career”.

1960-1962 – Library Page

When I turned 16 was eligible to get a “real” job after school, and I went to work at the city library. I worked two hours every afternoon after school, alphabetizing the circulation cards from the previous day and typing the overdue postcards. For that I received $.67 an hour in the beginning and after I had been there a year my pay was raised to $.75 an hour. On that money, and what I earned babysitting, and working as the upstairs maid for my grandmother during the summer, I was able to save over $1,000.00 for my trip to Europe with the Girl Scouts.

1962-1963 – Girl Scout Camp Counselor

I worked the summer after high school and between my freshman and sophomore year in college as a Girl Scout camp counselor. I made pretty decent money doing that, and got to have fun at camp at the same time. I loved sleeping out, cooking out, swimming, crafts, and all the other stuff that goes with being at camp.

I had a scholarship for the first three years in college, so I didn’t have to work.

1965 – Geology Lab Instructor

My fourth year in college, I had done well enough in my geology courses that I got a job as Lab Instructor. I’m glad, because Al and I were newly married, I was pregnant, and we had zero money. I didn’t love the work, but it was a tiny paycheck and it was easy, so I did it.

From the time Ray was born in January 1966, until after Billy was born in January 1972 I didn’t work for pay. While we were in Denver, in Germany, and early in the time we were in Alexandria, I did a lot of volunteer work. I volunteered at Air Force Family Services, I was a leader of a Girl Scout troop, and I was a Girl Scout Day Camp Director.

1973-1976 – Professional Girl Scout

After Billy was born, I got a job in Alexandria at the Girl Scout Council, part-time as a Field Director. That meant I did training for Girl Scout leaders, managed the business part of Cookie and Calendar sales, took care of the council-owned camping equipment, and helped with fund-raising for the Council. I really liked doing all of that. I quit in Alexandria when I went back to college, but when we moved to Las Vegas, I got a job doing the same thing at the Girl Scout Council out there. I worked there, full-time, until we went to England. I LOVED working for Girl Scouts.

1980-1982 – Administrative Assistant

After Al was RIFed, I was able to get a position as Administrative Assistant to two different colonels at RAF Fairford. I did all the filing, typing, phone answering, and calendar keeping, first for the Base Commander, and later for the Deputy Commander for Maintenance. Up until this time, I had studiously avoided anything that smacked of “secretarial” work (remember at my high school, business courses were looked down on as not worthy of “college prep” kids). Lo and behold, I found out I LOVED to type and file and keep schedules and organize stuff. I was good at it, and it satisfied something in my ISTJ spirit.

1982-1984 – Director of Christian Education

When we got to Texarkana after Al retired, I was able to get a job at the First Presbyterian Church as Director of Christian Education and Children’s Choir Director. WHOA! I finally got to use my degree in Music! I liked this job pretty well, but not as much as I would have expected. I found out that I really don’t like having to be nice to bossy volunteers.

1985-1986 – Computer Operator at the Cotton Classing Office

When we got out to Abilene, I searched all over a job of any kind, preferably administrative, and was eventually able to go to work running the computer at the Cotton Classing office during the fall and winter cotton seasons. This was an old Sperry Mini-computer that had punch cards for input, and it was my job to feed the cards in through the card reader, run a back-up on enormous tapes, and sort and mail the cards to the farmers. Again, I loved doing this. I was alone in the computer room, and had picky, particular, finite tasks to do every day. In 1986, the bottom fell out of the economy, the Cotton Office got a new streamlined computer, and they didn’t need me in the fall of 1987.

1988-1994 – Business Owner – Spirit Scarves

I searched and searched for gainful employment and was able to find a couple of temporary jobs doing proofing at a bank, and as an accounting clerk at the local TV station, but the economy got worse and worse, and I finally started my own business knitting scarves (mufflers) with school logos and in school colors like the ones we had known for soccer teams in England. I also designed a black-and-white sweater that looked just like an enormous soccer ball. I had a knitting machine and I could knit two scarves in a day, or a sweater in two days, and then spend the evenings “working in the ends” and sewing the seams. For several years I travelled all over the country attending soccer association annual meetings and setting up my displays at soccer games. I was able to get enough orders for a while that I hired a couple of other ladies to help with the knitting, but I never was able to make the leap from doing all the manufacturing and sales myself. I had a really good time doing everything, but after five years I realized I was losing about $2,000 a year, and I decided that it just wasn’t worth it.

About that time, my sister Harriet, who is a career counselor, gave me the Myers-Briggs test and we discovered what I would be really good at is accounting. Bill suggested I go back to school, so I did.

1997-2010 – Certified Public Accountant

When I graduated and got my CPA license I started looking for employment, but jobs for 52-year-old beginning accountants are few and far between. So I went to work as a contractor with a temporary agency, and I got a really great basis in working as a CPA in a lot of varied industries. I worked long-term assignments for four different companies, and then in 2001 when the last assignment ended, the economy was so awful people weren’t even hiring contractors. I spent six months looking for another assignment, and finally in July 2002, I stopped looking for a job and started looking for my own clients. I was able to get enough clients on the basis of one-day-a-week work doing a little bookkeeping and a little advising and a little in software sales. I finally retired in December 2010.

I wish I had known how much I enjoyed accounting and other office work when I graduated from high school, but I didn’t. All in all, it was a varied, interesting, and educational life I lived.

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Responses

  1. Hi. My first job was babysitting and i started at 50 cents per hour and worked my way up to one dollar an hour! Judy

    Like


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