Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis
susandennis

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It was late September 1987 when I went to Rochester, MN to interview for this 'perfect opportunity.' I'd never been to Minnesota before and knew very little about IBM Rochester or even Rochester. I knew it was home to the Mayo Clinic and that was hammered home on the plane ride out there.

Today, Rochester has a population of about 120,000 but back then it was half that. Way smaller than the New York Metropolitan area I was coming from. So it was a little surprising to discover that 1. there were so many flights to there and that they were all so full on a Sunday night. When I got to the waiting lounge for the flight I began noticing some peculiarities...

Many of the passengers had large brown envelopes - like really large but all the same. But, they didn't seem to be in any group or anything. And then I noticed some other stuff. One guy had no nose. A woman sitting next to me had bandages peaking out from her dress neckline. There were other people with other obvious physical issues.

One of the first Rochester lessons I learned was that Monday morning was diagnosis and testing day at the Mayo Clinic. People flew in from around the world in flocks on Sundays. All those brown envelopes were x-rays and scans. Patients and their spouses, partners or friends came in for a week, generally. Mondays were books solid. Tuesdays were 'off' days while the docs scratched their heads over the tests. Wednesday-Friday were result/treatment/going home days depending.

The town itself had way more movie theaters, cheap food chains and craft shops than you would expect for its size. That's because on Tuesdays, all those people (more than 100,000 a year in those days) had nothing to do on and so they'd go buy yarn or craft kits, or go to the movies or just wander around. Tuesdays were a trip. If you forgot what day it was, all you had to do was drive through town and you'd remember fast. Friday and Saturdays, it turned into a small town again.

The everyday population was pretty much divided in terms of work. You'd meet somebody knew - like a hairdresser or waiter and the first question they would ask would be IBM or The Clinic? Meaning where do you or the person who supports you work? I never actually met anyone with both - like one spouse worked one place and the other worked the other. There must have been some but everyone I knew was one or the other.

But, I digressed there... My interview was on Monday morning. I got there early afternoon on Sunday and drove around to find the plant and get a lay of the land. At the road where you turned into the plant was a giant Target store. YES!! Targets were new and not on the east coast. I had been in one while visiting a friend in Tucson and fell in love with it. Score. Oh and there was a Hardee's too. I loved Hardee's and there were not many locations outside of the east coast.

The town seemed doable. I was excited.

To Be Continued
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