Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On being an office girl

I've been an office girl for twenty -two years now.  Who knew that being able to type really fast would be my claim to fame?  In high school, I learned to type on a manual typewriter.  That's right, a manual.  Do you know how hard you have to type to push down keys on a manual?  It made my pinkies very strong.  I think we typed on manuals for the first year.  Once my school went with  electric typewriters, my fingers really flew.  I still type very "hard."  Remember the scene from the movie Up in the Air when George Clooney asks Anna Kendrick "are you mad at your keyboard?"  I type like that.  Currently I sit in an open suite with three other ladies and it seems to me I type louder than anyone. 
For ten years I worked  inside sales for two different newspapers.  I wore a head set and took classified ads over the phone.  I can type as fast as you can talk.  (This talent comes in handy when taking notes for meetings.)   At one of the newspapers, the atmosphere was just like the t.v. show The Office. And at times, the atmosphere was something like Mad Men. The first newspaper I worked for was in my home town. The second newspaper, located a little further north, was in a slightly larger town. The town was still made up of blue collar, factory working people, but also home to a university. Therefore, the second newspaper fancied itself a little more cosmopolitan than the first.  In advertising  there were sometimes lunches which included alcohol.  You never knew who was involved with whom.  While I dressed professionally at the first newspaper, when working at the second newspaper, I had a closet filled with suits.  I wore suits, stockings and pumps nearly every day.  In those years, Kasper was my favorite suit brand.  I had one that was pink and navy.  Another Kasper suit was a soft pink.  I had matching pink pumps and wore white stockings.  Another suit had a red riding jacket with black velvet collar which I wore with a white sheer blouse and pants and skirt in hound's tooth.  My dry cleaning bill rivaled my children's day care bill.  
Then I went to work for Ball State University.  Working on my BS degree, I had paid out of pocket for two years.  Financially, this was killing me.  I wanted to work for the university for many reasons, but one was that they paid tuition for employees.  I took a chance and started working temp for the university.  At my second position, they made me an offer.  My boss there was the greatest guy.  It was a small office and although we had contact with everyone on campus, the dress code was much less stuffy than that of advertising.
 And now I work for Indiana University. At my first post here at IU, we worked with a man who greatly favored Roger Sterling.  My second post here at this university is with the law school.  College co-eds are wearing more than jeans and work-out clothing to class these days.  If you don't believe me, consult with Indiana University Alumna, Amy Levin's blog.    Here at the law school, it is quite common to see law students in suits.  The faculty and staff here dress professionally for meetings and presentations.  During breaks, (spring, summer, fall and Christmas) we dress down.  During summer break, about anything goes.  Today is a meeting day and I am wearing black pumps and stockings, (I'm old school enough that it is difficult to do the bare legged thing) black pants and shell with a short leopard print jacket and vintage Trifari jewelry.  (Originally mine, now considered vintage- a.k.a. "old."  Vintage is a much nicer word than old.)  I picked up the jacket at my favorite second-hand shop.  I prefer to purchase standard slacks in brown, black, navy and grey and go from there.  I rarely purchase anything that has to be dry-cleaned.  Because I am a Jackie fan, I believe pearls go with every thing.
I enjoy being on campus, observing what the students wear, seeing the cute male professors and noting what the female professors wear.  It keeps me in the game.  I enjoy dressing up and making a fashion statement.  I'm certain some days that statement is "ouch."
Overall, there are worse jobs than that of office girl.


Kris said...

Well you got me all excited about clothes! For this gal, it is mostly yoga pants and the like when just around the house. But I have lots of mix and match pieces that I can jazz up for my lunch outings and what not. I worked at Nordstrom one Christmas season in the jewelry department and had to dress up every day. That was fun! I have oodles and oodles of fun jewelry! I love accessories!!!
Got my second egg yesterday!!! I am on my way!

Donna said...

I worked with you at that first newspaper you mentioned and can attest that you dressed beautifully. You would have looked great as press secretary for the nation's first lady. You dressed THAT well. Once I was trying to decide what to wear to something and wondered if I was going too fancy. You said "It's impossible to be too dressed up." I have always remembered that. And sure as anything, if I "go sloppy" or don't put on my makeup for a "quick run to town" I see every fashion-plate lady I know! Thanks for the dress for success review. Although society is MUCH more casual all the time, it's still fun to dress up and look like a fashionable "office girl."

ArtyMarti said...

When I worked, I loved dressing up. Now, my only chance is Sunday. Dressing up makes you feel good about yourself.

Holly said...

I think I have only worked one job, back in the late 80's where I was required to dress up. I now owrk from home so it's yoga pants and sweatshirts right now.

Brian Miller said...

i am sure my fashion statement is that i need to grow is nice to look good and dress up on occassion though...and hey sounds like you find the office work rewarding...paying me to type i would be broke...smiles.

Chatty Crone said...

You brought back memories when you talked about a manual typewriter - I had years in high school and I type really fast too. Best thing I did for my kids too was to make them take two years of typing.

And I bet you are just awesome at your job.

I haven't dressed up in years.



I got a manual typewriter for Christmas, many years ago. Fond memories of it. The computer changed everything. Now all of us are typists. I enjoyed hearing all about your career changes throughout the years. Funny how three martini lunches and cigarettes used to be part of the office ritual. I got a chuckle about your dry cleaning bill rivaling your children's day care bill. OUCH! Sounds like you're in a good place now. Take care.

KleinsteMotte said...

Dressing up days are fading in all of society. I still enjoy it. Love your story!!

In the Light of the Moon said...

Pearls DO go with everything!!Thanks you for giving us a peak of what goes on...on the other side of the keyboard!!Hugs,Cat

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