Dinosaur

By Susan Lewis

I’m 62 years old and my new boss is 29 years old. “29,” I tell myself. “Let that sink in,” I mumble as I start up the monitor and watch it come to life. Everything in my world is digital and I come from “The Planet of the Paper” where everything is…oh, scratch that…was written down, paper clipped or stapled neatly (after banging the papers on the desk to make sure each and every corner was perfect), labels written and put onto folders (if needed) and either neatly stacked up at the edge of the desk for filing later, or walked to a file cabinet, a drawer opened and the paper neatly put away. Pens and pencils were important as well as erasers and “White Out.”

I remember “White Out” and open my desk drawer to see if I have any.

I don’t. I ask my new boss if we have any.

“What is it?” he asks.

“What is what?” I ask, certain he was joking.

“That ‘White’ thing you just asked about,” he says as he continues to stare intently at his smart phone and scroll. “Did you say ‘White In?”

“No. White Out. It’s this liquid that’s white that you use to hide a mistake in typing…”

“Just use your backspace key…”

“Right! Yes, of course. I was just kidding,” I say as I walk back to my desk and close the drawer. I only have one drawer in my desk. Who only needs one drawer in a desk?

People who don’t have White Out or envelopes or stamps, that’s who.

I log on and start reading my emails. This is a new job for me after suddenly being laid-off with everyone else from a company I had spent 20 years of my life building and putting my blood, sweat and tears into it. No one saw it coming and at the age of 60, I found myself unemployed for the first time since I was 16.

Divorced, unemployed and going through menopause.

I’ve had better days.

But I somehow convinced this young man at a pizza parlor that he needed someone with my experience, wit, humor and charm to help him run his office so he could concentrate on sales.

I had overheard him at the table behind me talking to his friend that he needed someone part-time. I immediately turned around in my chair and smiled as I stuck my hand out and introduced myself as the woman he was looking for. I made sure to put my slice of pizza down and wipe the grease off my hand.

He looked perplexed but shook my hand out of reflex. I explained that I had overheard him, and I was looking for part-time work. I didn’t see the need to say I was past desperate and needed two full-time jobs just to catch up with some of my bills.

Baby steps.

His friend, a funny and loud woman, kept poking him in his ribs and slapping him on his arm while we spoke, saying, “You’ve got to hire her! You’ve got to!”

After chatting for a while, we set-up a time to meet. I brought in my resume – which was the first one I had ever done – and gave him some references. I had called them the night before and threatened them with a long, slow, lingering death if they said anything stupid.

It must have worked because I got the job and found myself looking for White Out along with paper clips, a stapler, notepads, and an eraser.

“We’re totally paperless, so you know how to scan and save documents, right?”

I nodded. I figured I would Google that as soon as he walked away.

It took me two days to learn how to transfer a phone call. There was no way to put it on hold, yell for him to pick it up and have him push the blinking light and answer the damn call.

No. I had to figure out the icons on what was the hold button, tap that and then look at the screen on the phone, find the little circle thingy and use that to scroll to something else, tap that, then go to another screen to put in HIS extension, push another key to ring his line, and then wait for him to pick-up.

All the while, he’s sitting 10 feet from me.

After the first week, he said he thought it was going well, and it was. He didn’t see me leave in tears on the days when I had no idea how to fax from my computer, or how to get the stupid printer to just print one damn piece of paper or the 20 minutes it took me to figure out how to get that one document onto a flash drive and then over to the hard drive to upload and scan somewhere for somebody to read, because being the professional that I am, I waited until I get into my car to have my nervous breakdown and crying fit.

On the days when an ill-tempered and rude client calls or comes in and thinks they can be hateful  to me, I smile sweetly and let them know they are attempting to mess with a woman who not only lived in a time when we had rotary phones and only three TV stations to choose from, but who also knew how to use a letter opener that I always have with me (next to the stamps and erasers) and that I would be more than willing to demonstrate up close and personal what I would do with it if they didn’t learn some manners.

Being a dinosaur has its perks.

About this writer

  • Susan Lewis

    Susan Lewis

    Susan Lewis is a freelance and ghost writer. She also writes non-fiction about her volunteer work in Human Rights and criminal rehabilitation. She is known to bring home stray animals as often as possible.

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4 Responses to “Dinosaur”

  1. Aden Curtis says:

    From one dinosaur to another, I found myself here at Sasee to follow Susan for the sole purpose of reading this specific article.

    I loved the personal style and enjoyed the chance to both reminisce simpler office environments and share similar millennial boss encounters!

    Yes, dinosaur perks are real…

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    Susan your story made me laugh. I accepted a job operating phones many years ago for a small company. I had been a switchboard operator. I;d show them! They showed me…all sorts of new fangled gizmos with transfer buttons that did not transfer, HOLD buttons that didn’t etc.

  3. Marla says:

    I love dinosaurs because I am one.

  4. Rose Ann says:

    And don’t forget the carbon paper! I remember thinking White Out was the best thing since sliced bread! Enjoyed your essay.

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