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It’s in the Bank

My go-to phrase when facing disappointment is “When God closes a door, don’t stand there pounding on it, turn around and look for the window.” After my abrupt exit from the Star-Telegram, I reworked that saying as something like “When a door closes in your face and breaks your nose, look for an ice pack and make a plan.” Some said I had a legal case regarding my termination because I did not receive a verbal or written warning, as described in department policy for disciplinary action. The lawyer said it could be tricky. Ultimately, I was heart-broken at losing the job that I loved, but I did not like the idea of forcing my way back. I picked up the quite familiar Star-Telegram classified section and began circling ads. This time I could type and I had more than one dress.

During the six months after leaving the newspaper, I worked as a placement specialist at a small employment agency and as a secretary to the founder and CEO of a sprinkler company. At the employment agency, the owner began each day by ringing a bell and having everyone recite a loyalty pledge of sorts. I left that job for the sprinkler company, as in fire sprinkler systems in high rise office buildings. My boss was called “C.B.” Before taking that job, I didn’t even know the purpose for those funny looking spouts in the ceiling. I learned new terminology and technical facts about water pressure and pipe width. C.B. thought I was a genius when I found and used the memory feature that he did not know existed on his “brand new expensive typewriter.” The job was new and interesting but there were no benefits and I did not fit in with the office dynamics. C.B.’s wife hired me; the other “girls” in the office were under 25 and looked quite fetching in their Calvin Klein jeans.

In November of 1982, my typing test of 90 wpm with no errors earned a job offer from Texas American Bank (TAB), formerly Fort Worth National Bank. The salary was a little more than half my earnings at the newspaper but the benefits were good, there was room for advancement, and I was happy to again be part of downtown Fort Worth. The Word Processing Department was a typing pool of sorts producing and storing letters, policies, statements, etc. for various bank departments. The center was powered by typists using the mag-card typewriters and OS6 machines which were the horse and buggy version of today’s technology. The machines did eradicate the need for correcting tape and liquid paper. Documents were typed and then recorded on a rectangle of magnetic material called a “mag card” (using the mag-card typewriter) or on a six-inch floppy disc (using the OS6 machine). I started as a Mag Card Operator.

The department manager, Susan, was smart, direct, and ran a tight ship with a no-nonsense approach. And she was fair. We quickly developed a friendship and took our breaks together. The bank building was a beautiful setting with a huge fountain in the center of the open basement. The Word Processing Center was located just across from this fountain. The happy sound of the fountain spray could be heard from the lobby and the cafeteria located on the upper floors. For morning break and lunch we enjoyed the cafeteria buffet to the music of the fountain. It was much more peaceful than the classified beeper.

Before long, I had graduated from Mag Card Operator to OS6 Machine Operator. I drove to Plano every day for a week to receive training for my new position. The machine was the size of an office desk with a tiny, seven-inch square display that was not a screen or CRT but actually part of the contraption. The characters were green on gray background. The OS6 was my first introduction to the ability to manipulate a cursor to a desired position, backspace to delete characters, and actually select and move or delete entire blocks of text. Wow.

As the months passed, I began to see the truth in things happening for the best. I worked right across the street from Monnig’s. I could still have lunch with Debi Morris and Carla Crow. Smoking at the desk was not allowed, so gone were the headaches from smoke in the air. I did not earn commission but I did know exactly how much I would bring home every month. Every week, I searched the open positions posted on the company “job board.” The really good ones had this pesky little phrase, “four-year degree required.” My company benefits package offered something new to me, tuition reimbursement. The basement was my place for the moment, but I planned on working my way up.

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