I remember sitting in class as a Sr in high school, pondering what it was going to be like after graduation. Like many high school Sr’s, the thought of more school was less than appealing at that point. Obviously, however, the thought of a job other than fast food didn’t seem attainable without more school. I wasn’t like many others who had a deep desire to be a Dr or lawyer or engineer, in fact I wasn’t at all sure what I wanted be when I grew up. I was pretty sure, at least right then, I didn’t want to go to college.
One rather ponderous morning, an announcement came on the public address system about an opportunity for a class with ROP. Regional Occupational Program- basically instead of regular academic classes it is vocational training in a specific field, with the possible goal of a job after graduation. One of my friends seemed interested in the presentation but didn’t want to go alone. I figured the presentation sounded a bit more interesting than English class, so I went along. Funny how those spur of the moment decisions can have big impacts. By the end of the presentation I found myself enrolled in the class and, though I didn’t know it at the time, everything I could have asked for was in front of me.
The class for me? Pacific Bell in the operator services dept. I changed my academic schedule at school to accommodate this new class. It was off campus and that was a bit of a novelty back then, but I was excited for the change. I made new friends and for the next several months I learned how to be an operator, how to apply for a job, what may be expected if I got that job. I spent mornings in the class, and afternoons back at school. Finally graduation came and I was ready to go.
One week after graduation from High school I got a phone call from Pacific Bell. I had passed the entrance test, would I like a job? Ok, when do I start? How about Monday? Ok. sure, no problem.
The journey began. I went to orientation, signed a multitude of papers and received my company I.D. badge. I looked at that badge and noticed it expired after five years. I recall thinking that was a long time. When I got my first paycheck, which I think was for about 183$ for that first week, I didn’t even have a bank account yet to cash it. My friend Kyle said “the grocery store will cash your check, let’s go”.
I was 17- no car or bank account but I had a job, and now a real paycheck.
Over the years I continued to work, even went back to school. I had classes from the company and took advantage of opportunities that came my way. I went from an operator to a staff associate to a maintenance administrator to a facility technician to a transport technician.
I have worked holidays and overtime, and every schedule created in the company. I have gone from entry-level to the top pay scale. I have seen work stoppages and mergers and downsizing and through it all my family has been there with their unwavering support.
Now, after 12,974 days, I have decided it is time to move on to another chapter in life, called retirement. I will truly miss the people I have had the pleasure to work with over the many years. I wont miss the early morning wake ups or the middle of the night call outs, and the stresses of making sure the work is all completed, and correct. I hope I will be remembered as someone who did a good job, and maybe somehow made a difference.
That one announcement in high school those many years ago, provided me with everything I have today. My friends, family, vacations, a home. So I say Thanks Ma Bell- it’s been a pleasure, but now I hang up my tools, on to the next adventure.