Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I'm Not Your Girl

Before I got married I worked in Chicago processing insurance claims for a utility company.  There were four of us out front and we were referred to as "the girls."  We literally had stacks and stacks of bills rubber-banded by day on top of the filing cabinets.  If we could get through a couple of days a week we were doing okay but by the end of the year we were bombarded.  December, January and February were all six day work weeks.  On Monday, the boss would come in and say, "How'd you girls do Saturday?  Did you get a lot done?"  The girls pushed thousands and thousands of dollars in claims out the door every day.

When Mark was in graduate school I was the breadwinner and worked in a bank.  I'm sure I got the job because I waited two hours for the interview.  I was desperately seeking employment without much luck and had nowhere else to go that day.  I think they hired me out of guilt.  Whatever the reason I would stay there for four years until we moved to Maryland.

When I started I processed auto loans and would later move to mortgage loans.  Over on the mortgage side I would work for a real go-getter.  A young loan officer out to prove himself meant I was piled with an incredible amount of work to balance, type, copy and prepare for closing.  It was during that time that I got pregnant and my first trimester was a doozy.  Every day between 10-10:30 you could find me on the bathroom floor dry-heaving until I finally barfed into the toilet.  It was like clockwork every damn morning.  One time, Mr. Go-Getter knocked on the bathroom door, stuck his head in and said, "Are you almost done?  I need you."  When I came back to my desk he said, "I hope you're using that time for your break."

For two years I was the treasurer/VP of finance for the PTA.  Thousands of dollars passed through my hands from fundraisers to carnivals to the annual auction.  It was at the auction when we were closing out and trying to get everybody settled on what they owed that one of the dads said to me, "Let me take over here, honey.  I think I know money a little better than you do."

At my last job all money in and out came through my desk.  Thousands of dollars every day were my responsibility. I paid every contract and bill from the heating to the toilet paper for four buildings. I reconciled thirteen staff credit cards every month.  Every check for a donation, grant, membership renewal, or rebate from the electric company for switching to LED lights was my responsibility. When someone new joined the staff and my boss was taking her around to meet everyone, she said about me and my supervisor, "These are my girls."  I was 57 years old.

I have been a one-person crusader in my home these last few months for Hillary Clinton.  I argued with every person in my family on her behalf.  They wouldn't budge and neither would I.  You would think five against one would sway me (and maybe make me feel the bern) but it didn't so last night when she sealed the deal and gave her speech I was a weepy mess.  When she said, "This is because of you," I knew exactly what she meant. This was for the young woman on her first real job working six days a week shoving paper through a hopelessly clogged system.  For the puking mom-to-be trying to get through morning sickness and hold onto her paycheck nearly thirty years ago. For the volunteer treasurer being pushed out of the way by the man who knew money better than she did. For the woman who has worked for decades but was stunned into silence when introduced as "my girl."

That are many uncertainties in this election going forward but I think one thing has been settled.

We're nobody's girl.

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