Never have thought that I’d retire. For as long as I’ve been in the work force, staying on the job for as long as my health and my ability to contribute allowed, and for as long as I was having fun, was the only option I’ve ever considered.
My working career started long before college, however. That is if you count mowing yards for neighbors on the south side of Mount Pleasant, Texas, at age 12. If not, my first real job at age 13 working for 25¢ an hour at Ben Franklin’s five and dime store on the north side of the Mount Pleasant downtown square where Corbin Merritt was the manager should qualify.
Out of all those years, I count myself fortunate that the majority of my jobs have found me. I’ve actually gone looking for employment only a handful of times. However, a few of the times I’ve perused the want ads and knocked on doors seeking gainful employment have been, well, interesting.
Interesting might be the best way to describe one of my more creative efforts to land a job in the West Texas oasis of Abilene almost 40 years ago. Landing in town the night before, I wasted no time in looking for a paycheck the very next day. With a few years of newspaper experience on my crude resume and a folder of bylined clips under my arm, I went downtown to the Abilene Reporter News. An interview scored me an offer to fill the night city editor’s slot, but after some thought, I declined deciding I needed a break from newsprint and ink.
My next stop was at the accounting office for a tire store group to interview for business manager at one of their Abilene locations. This is probably a good time to mention something that I failed to mention during in the interview that day—that I had no background or education in business management or bookkeeping. I thought credit was something the corner grocery store extended and debit was … actually, I had no clue what debit meant. The simple act of balancing my checkbook was challenging. But needing a job, I decided not to let that deter me from applying. My “in” for this interview was a mutual friend with the company’s accountant who was conducting the interview.
After a couple of hours in the city library speed reading the first few chapters of a “basic bid-ness book,” I figured I was ready for the interview. Through a series of most fortunate events and a rousing conversation about the mutual friend, I landed the job. The good news was I had been in Abilene less than 48 hours and I had a job. The bad news was, to say that I was ill prepared to do the job would have been an understatement of the greatest magnitude.
Working in my favor was the afore mentioned library book and it was still available to check out. Also working for me, Abilene has three fine institutions of higher learning—and night classes in accounting were enrolling that week.
I successfully met the challenges of my new job about a year and a half before moving back to East Texas and back to the newspaper business with new experience and additional college classes on my resume.
Through a set of unfortunate events this time around, this summer has found me again looking for a job, while at the same time “testing the waters,” as I call it, for retirement.
It’s been a great summer, but I’ve arrived at Labor Day with two conclusions. First, I’ve been right all along. It’s not time for me to retire just yet. So don’t be surprised if I show up in a new position in town soon. Second, and perhaps best, is that I’ve gained enough experience and education over the years that bluffing my way into a job is no longer necessary.
— Leon Aldridge