In the early 90’s, I worked as a temp.
One morning, the phone rang. “Eva,” the deep voice boomed. “It’s Barry from Sterling. I have a job for you.”
I grunted. I had been thinking I’d take the day off to write, draw, and walk around.
“Come on, Eva. I called and told them all about you. The office is waiting.”
When I still didn’t say anything, he said, “It will be a quick fifty bucks.”
That settled my decision. I spent money quickly; why not earn it quickly?
As I pecked away at the keyboard, I tried to be excited that my thirty-five words per minute typing speed was coming in handy, at last. My job involved entering numerical codes for patient diagnoses. I had arrived at the office with a slight sore throat; after eight hours of nonstop diagnoses, I was convinced it was strep or mono.
My supervisor said she had several more hours for me. After a few days of temping, I told a friend that at first I worried I was coming down with all the diseases. Then I wished I’d get them so I could leave and not return.
During this time, I was also job hunting. I interviewed to work for a magazine editor. The editor looked at my pantsuit and said, “That purple looks good on you. It matches your lips.” I wondered what my lips had to do with anything.
At an interview to work as a secretary for a TV station, my interviewer, who wore orange lipstick and a flowing orange dress, said, “You don’t need a Ph.D. to do this job." Good, I thought. I’m glad I didn’t get one.
I also interviewed to be a secretary at a university. I told my friend Laura about my appointment. I admired her because she had a knack for getting jobs she wanted. She said, “Here’s what you do. When you come out of the interview, ask if you can use the phone. It will look professional. Then call me. I’ll ask you how your interview went. They will be very impressed with you, believe me.”
I believed her.
I believed her because she had an otherworldly glow, a confidence and self-assurance I wanted.
After the interview, I asked to use the phone.
Laura said, “How was it?”
I said, “Good.”
She said, “Tell me all about it.”
I squirmed. I knew this wasn’t right. The men and women stared at me. I wanted to get off the phone. They looked horrified. Finally, Laura said goodbye. I checked the time. I had been on the phone for fifteen minutes.
Sweating, I thanked my interviewers, knowing I had ruined my chances of getting the job.
Looking back, I feel grateful for all the missed opportunities.
As for the original quick fifty bucks, it turned out to be $31.27 after taxes.
Causes Eva Schlesinger Supports
Center For Young Women's Development
Alameda County Library Foundation