The day I signed that contract I had $11 and some loose change to my name. I had enough food in my refrigerator to get me through to the first paycheck, so I took my last bit of money and bought a giant hamburger (no cheese, that cost extra), and a cup of coffee to celebrate.
I bounced around as a contract receptionist for a little under a year, finally ending up with a fantastic group, the Earth Advantage National Center. Portland General Electric had a small subsidiary which specialized in green building practices, energy saving technology, and LEED certification. Sadly, EANC did not get the support it needed to gain real traction and by the time I arrived, EANC was on its way out.
I loved it there. Every day I watched members of the group put theory into practice: that there are better ways of building homes and office space; that saving money and energy in the long run will probably cost more money in the short run, but there are ways to make such practices economical; that when it comes to building materials, there is always a trade-off; and of course, the cradle to grave level of responsibility – sustainably harvested, thoroughly used, responsibly disposed.
As for work, I made up my own job description. Since no one was calling this receptionist, this receptionist picked up the phone and started cold calling businesses to bring their meetings to our meeting space.What I sold as meeting space, was actually our showroom. Never mind that the space was never intended for meetings. I just decided that it should be and I did so at a profit.
One of the lighting reps who called on the EANC contractors saw this brimming enthusiasm and offered me a job interview for a real sales position (a salary with direct deposit! health insurance! a car stipend!). The lighting agency principal wanted to meet me, so Dan the salesman set everything up. We agreed to meet for lunch. I promptly missed the interview because I went to the wrong restaurant. The second interview we set for a place I could not miss. I interviewed before work at a Starbucks. And I got the job.
On my last day as the receptionist, all the friends I made at work brought me coffee from Starbucks – venti lattes, venti mochas, and venti drips. Embarrassed that I had so much coffee, I hid tall, white to-go cups under the front desk counter and then took them home to fill up my refrigerator at the end of the day – and rationed them out over the next week.
All of this I remembered while I watched MTM interview with Lou Grant for her associate producer’s position. The position where she “would make it after all.” At that point in time, I was going to be a lighting sales rep in Oregon. And I was going to make a career of it!
Here I sit, winter of 2017 smiling back at a younger me. I still drink too much coffee, I still eat chocolate chips (now Ghiradelli) and drink red wine (now out of a wine glass). I’m still excited about new jobs, new adventures, new friends.
For all the unknown that is to come, one thing I know for certain. I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.