A Story of My Life Part 9: The Job

 Hilda and Louie broke up over the Christmas holidays.  Alas, parting is such sorrow!  Brother Louie came home for a while, to get some things sorted out.  He and I had many, many heart-to-heart talks.  Louie was in the doldrums.  He felt like he failed at the thing he most wanted to succeed at--keeping Hilda, the love of his life, with him and by his side.

The parents just didn't understand.  Both parents thought "divorce" was a dirty word.  They were not easy on Louie.  They thought it was "shameful", and were pressuring Lou to try to get back with Hilda, who wanted no part of this.  Louie would've given his eyeteeth to do that very thing.  The parents didn't seem to have a clue that Hilda was the deciding factor, not Lou.  The parents kept saying how bad it was for the children.

Well, perhaps they're right, but they were no prizes as parents, themselves, which you know if you've been following this story.

I encouraged Lou to come to terms with the situation the best he could.  He was continuing to work on his dissertation, and both Mother and myself offered him the best encouragement that we could.  We gave his our listening ears, even when we didn't understand a word he said!

Carole had gone with Jesus to New York City, right after Christmas day.  She dropped out of college.  She was getting into things that I didn't really want to know about, which scared me.  She was into some heavy drugs by that time, and was starting to have an alcohol problem, too.  I understood her teenage rebellious period, and her wish to fit in with SOMEBODY, even the losers.  But I was afraid for all the personal risks she was taking. 

I went back to Albany, briefly, to withdraw from Albany State University.  That made me so sad!  I felt like a failure, too.  I had to put my studies on hold and defer my scholarship.  There wasn't the money in my personal exchequer to continue on at Albany State U., and pay their (exorbitant!) room and board fees for living in the dorms.  It was out of the question that I could continue to board at Orange Street, which was now Hilda's house.

One of the many things Lou and I talked about was how to continue with my education.  Both Mom and Lou said, take out enough college loans to see you through.  Dad, even though he had plenty of money in the bank, offered no help.  He said, "Don't start out your life in debt.  Get a job, save up the money, and go back to school."

I listened to Dad instead of Mom and Louie.  I wonder now, if I did the right thing.  I was afraid of contracting a debt that I had no present means of paying.  I thought it took a lot of faith in the future to do that.  I just decided in my own heart, my priorities changed.  What I REALLY wanted now, was a place of my own.  The home place was too terribly uncomfortable, with no heat upstairs in the winter and limited water, and Dad was talking of early retirement and moving to Tennessee, and he made it abundantly clear, I'd be out on my own then.

So I got a job as a shirt folder in a shirt factory.  I commuted down the long country roads for the rest of the winter and into the spring, to the town where the factory was.  I made $2.50 and hour, I think it was.  Minimum wage.  I took home about $70.00 per week.

It seemed like a fortune to me then!  I didn't mind the work so much.  I had to get used to standing, for eight hours per day, on a concrete floor.  I had to rapidly fold T-shirts around a piece of cardboard and fling them onto a conveyor belt, except for those times when it rained Jello from the ceiling, in which case I had to rapidly remove all the white T-shirts from the conveyor belt.  The factory had been converted from an old Jello factory, and the Jello powder got into the rafters, and when it rained, the roof leaks dribbled Jello-y like liquid from the ceilings.

I liked the women I worked around.  After I got used to my job, I could do it like a robot and carry on some interesting conversations with the people all around me.  I liked that, a lot.  The lady immediately behind was named Sandy, and she was cool!  She offered to sell me her above-ground swimming pool for $500, and I would have bought it had I a place to put it!

The main floor of the factory was all women, sewing away on industrial-type sewing machines, for "rate".  They got paid bonuses for anything extra they produced over rate, and they were very busy and dedicated women.  The goal for the "lifers" (factory workers whose career was in the factory) was to become a sewing lady, where you could make REAL money! (Maybe $5.00 per hour!).

The only men were the "cutters", the people who cut out the bolts of cloth into the patterns for the shirts.  They were the highest paid people in the place.

Folders were way down the totem pole.

I didn't mind.  I didn't care.  I wasn't going to make a career of this.  I was going back to school, some day.

 

Rome. The Vatican.

I moved out in the spring, into my own little apartment. God, I loved that place! It wasn't much, but it was mine. I had NO furniture of my own, so I took a little of my savings, and got some bits and pieces from Goodwill and the Salvation Army, and stores like that.

Louie went to Rome, to the Vatican, to do some research for his doctorate in Classic Languages. Louie got lucky, I think. He had won a fellowship, earlier in his academic career, and made a good impression on the right people.

Though I liked my life a lot better now that I was in control of my finances and my future, and I had my own little place and a job, of sorts, that at least paid the rent ($85.00 per month. Those were the days!), I still thought it wasn't fair that Louie had got so much more assistance and support from the parents with his schooling and I got none. I was just as bright, just as academically inclined, but to the parents, I was a girl, and therefore earmarked for marriage, and education was wasted on me.

I had to make my own way, and I realized that. Marriage wasn't amongst my life goals. How little I knew what the future had in store! Life is what happens while we're making other plans.

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Comments 13 comments

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks for the comment, Internetwriter, and so appropos!


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

John Lennon's famous saying is so true. I'm sorry that Louie couldn't stay with Hilda, although he must have had a great time in Rome.

Mind sets often blind parents to the realities and strengths of their children. It would have been nice if your parents would have seen what a gifted and bright young woman you are and they would have supported your educational goals.

I'm positive that your job must have been an adventure, and sometimes life takes us to places we weren't planing on, because life is a journey, not a destination.

Excellent hub. Till the next installment.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Sounds so much like my apartment. So very much. Have we got parallel lives, or what???? Thanks for the comment, Justine!


Justine76 6 years ago

Life is what happens when we are making other plans. :)

My first apartment, I had three bags of clothes, a dresser and a bean bag. I found a couch free on the side of the raod. I worked cleaning bathrooms at night at Wal-mart.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks for the comment, Duchess. And I agree!

See you all soon!


Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

I can relate Paradise to the whole thing. Going away to school and no help. But unlike your parents, mine did not have the money to help with.

Learning to live on nothing should be taught in high school!

Waiting for the next installment to find out what life happened while you were making your plans.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you all so verymuch for your comments! Yes, the "raining Jello from the ceiling" is TRUE! I couldn't miake that up. Unlike Dohn, I don't have that much imagination!

I thought people, especially women of around my age, might be able to relate to the lack of support for my schooling because I'm a woman. RM Crayne, I'm not the only one who figured it out, how to do it HER way. You did too, and I'm sure all your life stories are just as interesting as mine, if not moreso!

Catherine R., thanks so much for following me. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that comment about you having your coffee Monday mornings and reading my stories. I like your articles, too, a lot, as you may have guessed from my comments to you.

See you next Sunday (or Monday morning), if not before!


scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 7 years ago from South Wales

Great hub No.7. Flying the nest for the first time can be daunting but I know you have the strength of will to carry on. Well done.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

Raining Jello! Boy that will always be something to remember. I know you're not the "one up" type, but Jello from the ceiling would be hard to top. I'm not surprised your folks didn't help you with money, and surprised they helped Louie. Just because of how you said your dad was about money. But I understand the whole girl aspect. I was an x-ray tech, and I decided that was not really satisfying and I wanted more. WHen I quit my x-ray job to go back to school, my folks said "Why? You make plenty enough money for a girl!"


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa

As usual a great sequel to your other life stories. You really keep us in suspense from week to week as we anxiously wait for the next episode.

I am looking forward to your next and next and next ... episodes.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

I know exactly what you mean about getting your own place, Paradise7. When I got my own place, I was loving every moment of it after growing up with two older brothers and sisters. My first room mate in college stole from me, "borrowed" my TV set over the winter break while I was home with my folks, and then used my bed to sleep with a girl while I was out pledging in my fraternity!

Anyhow, I'm still following this story very closely as I'm curious to know what happens. That part about the Jell-O dripping from the ceiling is incredible (You can't make that up!) Please take your time telling it.


Catherine R profile image

Catherine R 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

The jello dribbling from the roof of the factory sounds surreal! Your factory job reminds me of some conveyor belt type jobs I had back in the day. Once I worked on a conveyor belt chopping the roots off bunches of celery. Mind numbing! Your story is part of my Monday morning with my coffee ritual now - I realize it is still Sunday for you but it's Monday down here. Can't wait for the next one.....


Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia

I hate that you had to put your education on hold, but from the little I've read about you, you are a true survivor and you'll make a way to acheive your goals. The fact that your parents though that an education was wasted on a female - well, that sucked - but fortunately, that view has changed a lot in this day and age. I can't wait to see what surprises you have in store for us.

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