University of Nevada, Reno




My first post-high school job

By Linda


LindaAfter I graduated from Las Vegas High School, I worked as a GS-2 clerk-typist in Civilian Personnel at Nellis Air Force Base. My commute from home near Desert Inn Road and Maryland Parkway to the base was long and hot, from June to the end of August.

I drove my un-air-conditioned 1962 Mercury Comet, and I was sweaty by the time I got to work. I had to be there at 7:30 a.m., and as a non-early riser, it was tough.

My saving grace was my car radio. I loudly played and sang along with "Hot town / Summer in the city / Back of my neck / Getting dirt and gritty." Otis Redding got me through the hard drive, facing a hot sun in the east and north.

My office consisted of one frequently absent male director and some 20 women.

I was a decent typist, and I often was asked to create letters for the director. When the executive secretary left on vacation, I was asked to assume many of her duties, including creating executive letters, telephone usage, and using a weird pre-Xerox copying machine they called a "thermo-FAX."

This is long before contemporary faxing. Instead, the thermo-FAX copy was HOT, brown and onion skin thin—impermanent and nearly useless.

I was feeling very proud of myself when one extremely hot day, the ladies asked me to go to the on-base Arctic Circle food stand and buy ice cream sundaes for the entire office.

I drove in about 120-degree heat to the Arctic Circle with my list of sundae choices and the cash they had given me.

I was very careful to order the correct sundaes, to get plenty of spoons and napkins. The man at the Arctic Circle put the sundaes side-by-side in a cut-open box.

I carefully carried the box to my hot car and drove to the office. By the time I got there, the sundaes were partially melted, and I was worried the ladies wouldn’t like them.

I carried the box into the office, and yelled, gleefully, "The sundaes are here!" As the ladies began to walk toward me, I took a step, tripped, and as I fell backwards, the sundaes went flying. Melted ice cream, whipped cream, hot fudge sauce, cherries splattered EVERYWHERE, ceiling, desks, walls, floor. I was flat on my back, covered with ice cream, caramel and chocolate sauce.

The ladies gasped, then laughed, and I could no longer hold back the tears. I cried in failure and embarrassment. The ladies were very sweet. At 18, I was the youngest in the office, and they tried to comfort me amidst the mess, which took forever to clean up. They were very kind to me. They didn’t tell me to clean up the sticky mess by myself. They helped me, and they didn’t want me to repay the money, but I did anyway, from my next paycheck.


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