I had part time jobs without much incident--time spent helping my dad out at the pharmacy, summers and college breaks as a bank teller in my hometown, and jobs with the University that I absolutely loved. It's when the real world started to come calling that crazy crawled right out of the woodwork and found me, and it started before I even graduated.
I managed to land a highly coveted marketing internship with a mass retailer (you know, the one with the big red bull's eye as their logo). Here was my chance to get some insight into what marketing really was, and to learn something about the business world. The problem with this is that I was, apparently, the first intern this particular location had ever had. No one knew exactly what to do with me, and so I was sent to a store in north Atlanta and introduced to one of my supervisors, whose name--right hand to God--was Sparkle.
Mainly, Sparkle gave me a binder of HR policies and a space with a folding chair in the corner of the employees only area of the store. Later, as I became more and more restless, I was given all the craft supplies I could ever want and free reign over the bulletin boards in the hallways and break room. It was not exactly a dream fulfilled. The saddest part is that when I tried to quit, dear Sparkle insisted that I tell the store manager directly. The problem with that is that Steve the manager promptly began avoiding me. I scheduled time to meet with him to talk...and he never showed up. After two weeks of trying to tell Steve it wasn't the internship, it was me, I gave up and turned in my red shirt and khakis along with a letter of resignation. Onward and upward, yes? A girl can dream.
My first job after graduating from Clemson was as a marketing assistant at a retail shopping mall in south Atlanta. Never been south of the airport in the ATL before? Don't. Seriously. I was naive and eager, and I wound up making $23,000 a year creating marketing events for a mall that was almost totally deserted. Well, except for the folks stealing cars out of the parking lot in broad daylight, or the people who stole the ATM right out of the mall food court on a Saturday during lunch time.
After I got married, we moved to Charlotte and I began my stint working in banking. Bankers are just hard working, conservative, buttoned-up types, right? I'm sorry to break the news: there are crazies everywhere you go, especially if you are me. My little 5 foot 6 boss with the Napoleon complex was quite a character; let's call him Bruno, for the Bruno Magli shoes with giant silver buckles he was so fond of wearing. One of the girls in the office brought it to my attention that dear Bruno kept a mirror in his desk drawer, so that he could open that drawer, prop up his mirror, and watch himself while he was working and on the phone. I am tiny and powerful, see me roar!
My next (mis)adventure in employment took me to
Needless to say, I left that dream job and went to work for a small, regional bank--if big was bad, smaller should be better, right? Well, not necessarily better, just crazy of a different kind. I found myself working during the consumer lending boom, giving equity lines to pretty much anyone, anywhere, for any reason. On the outside, the lender I worked for was a sweetly spoken, Southern lady usually wearing a strand of pearls and a kindly smile. Imagine my surprise when she called me in her office one afternoon, politely asked me to close the door, slammed both of her perfectly manicured hands down on her desk and said in a sing-song voice, "I am SO angry!" I didn't know if I should laugh or run. The answer, I learned after several months of honing my skills, was run. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just take your toys and run! That little song of hers was her battle cry, and you did not want to cross the general on the battlefield.
As I'm sure you can guess, all this crazy will eventually wear on a girl. I started losing the ability to laugh about it all, and started to feel like I was losing my mind as well. And so, for those of you who wonder about my very early retirement, I hope I have put the pieces of the puzzle together for you and you can see that the puzzle clearly spells out "insanity." I'm not saying that I'm not still a magnet for wackjobs and weirdos--because we all know the force is great in that regard. The good news is that now, instead of asking, "Is this good for the company?" I just ask if it's good for me. Call me crazy, but that's what seems to really work.