Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis


I started out my first week of married life looking for a job. The heavens opened up and I found a listing from a law firm looking for someone who could operate a world processor. DOH! It was a stuff smallish (10 lawyers) Southern law firm dealing mainly in estate, real estate and a teensy bit of criminal law. They had lovely offices not that far from my house.

They had a word processor called a Lanier No Problem. The attorney interviewing me was the one who insisted they buy it and his ass was on the line because the only person who could operate it had moved out of town when her husband got transferred. He took me to the machine to prove I could operate it. I'd never seen or heard of one before but it took less than a minute to figure out. There were a couple of docs saved on the disk, I opened on and made a change and printed it out and he hired me on the spot. I'll bet he did a little happy dance with his pre-dinner cocktail that night.

I didn't have a car and I can't quite remember why. But rather than buy another one, I just bought a moped and drove it to work and back every day. It was fun.

The law firm was a bit of a nightmare. I had no interest in, training for, aptitude in legal work. I had watched a lot of Perry Mason and read To Kill a Mockingbird but that was it. And, I couldn't spell. Spell Check was still in future-ville. But I was faithful. It snowed and no other secretaries even tried to come in but I managed it - on my moped! The lawyers were impressed and really grateful.

Each lawyer had a secretary. I was the estate guy's secretary. He did not particularly like me. The guy that hired me truly appreciated my skills. The lawyer I worked for did not. At all. Once I figure out all the tricks of the Lanier No Problem, I was bored to tears. I trained all the other secretaries on how to use it and, fortunately, one of them really got it.

The lawyer who hired me went on a two week vacation and the estate lawyer took that opportunity to fire me. It stung like a sonofabitch but it was totally reasonable. I was devastated and so relieved.

One of my husband's friends told me about a communications job at a brand new performance arts center so I marched myself down there and begged the new director to hire me. There was a bit of competition but I managed to beat everyone back and became the first Marketing Manager for Spirt Square Arts Center.

It was a beautiful small theater they had carved out of an old church in downtown Charlotte. The original stained glass windows were backlit and the pews were replaced with theater seats and it was gorgeous. 800 seats. We had everyone from Mary Travers (on her birthday and the same day that Reagan was elected - that was one depressed lady) to Vincent Price (mean as snake and rude) to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and a variety of classical musicians. My job was to create all the marketing materials and get all the publicity we could get.

Happily for us, the government required that all radio and TV stations use a fairly substantial percentage of their air time for programming highlight non-profit organizations. So local shows were always looking for someone to put on the air. Their choices were mostly diseases or the arts. And there was me - ready, willing and able, on a moment's notice, to help them fill their air time. We got a lot of excellent publicity.

I was on local TV so much that my mother (who then lived 2 hours away but got all the Charlotte stations thanks to this new thing called cable TV) started to complain that I was in her face every time she turned on the news.

It was a fun job but the director turned out to be a whacko and non-profit was non-profit and always begging. There was a really fun guy I kept running into every time I'd go present to one group or another begging for money. He was the communications director at the IBM plant on the edge of town. One day he offered me a job...

And back to work at IBM I went.

To Be Continued
Tags: tbc
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