Before I started working, I had never operated a coffee maker or a fax machine, and I had never had an email address (it was a different time, people!). My work experience consisted of a college job in the archives, and a summer job as a tour guide in Washington, DC. The first job was icy cold (the temperature was adjusted to the comfort level of the documents, not the workers) and the second was boiling—95 degree and 90 percent humidity on an un-air conditioned bus. The tour guide job did have one big side benefit, though—I met my husband there (he was fellow guide).
I graduated from college during a recession, so I moved home and started looking for work. After a brief stint as a receptionist at Freddie Mac, I finally found a job in video production—sort of. It was a company that did production, but I was going to be working as an assistant to the sales force. I was assured I could work my way up and start doing something creative later. I just felt grateful to have a job in my field.
And then I found out that I was headed into the bizarre world that I can only call “when a dysfunctional family runs a business.” I lasted about 6 weeks in the job after learning 1) the company had declared bankruptcy not just once but multiple times, 2) my boss was using his aged mother to get “women owned business” contracts from the government, and 3) the head of the company had been told that I was a marketing genius who was going to help them get into direct mail marketing in a major way. Perhaps if I had been told the truth about #3, I could have faked my way through it. But it was a complete shock for me, and for the owner of the company when I asked what exactly direct mail marketing was exactly?
So the best thing that could happen to me happened: I was fired. And the job experience was not all bad. It helped me get my next job as an assistant/production manager for a cinematographer who became a collaborator and remains a very good friend. And it gave me a very good plot for one of my screenplays. What more could a writer ask for?
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