It was June 16, 1980 when I began my career in financial cooperatives. I had just graduated from St. Mary of the Valley High School, quit my job as a serving wench with ‘Enry Beazely’s Fish n Chips and successfully landed a teller position with Pacific NW Federal Credit Union. I made $650.00 a month, and after a 90 day probation would receive medical benefits. I got the job through an employment agency and their fee was one month’s salary. Oh, AND this was a cut in pay from Beazely’s but heck, I got to wear real clothes.

I started on a Monday. Judy, the HR lady arranged to let me in the building. She took me behind teller-row to meet my new boss. Let’s just call her “Mean Jean.” She had big hair, aqua net hair, caked on blue eye shadow and was hunched over a desk piled high with paper and smoking a Salem menthol cigarette.

Judy introduced me as her new teller, Denise. Jean’s response: “Oh sh*t, I forgot YOU were starting today.” After some words between Judy and Jean it seemed that there was a problem balancing on Friday, someone named Patty had called in sick, and well….Jean had NO time to train me. The solution? Have me sit at the desk in the lobby and she’ll find something for me to do.

Now you have to picture this desk. It’s the putty colored metal with the laminate wood surface and it appeared that they were moving it out of the building when they stopped at the front door. There was NOTHING in it to keep me busy.

It’s 9:00 and the doors open. Members start streaming in. What did I do? I started greeting people. Members were asking me questions – I made things up. One member asked to talk to a loan officer. Across the lobby I had a bird’s eye view of one such person. Let’s call her Mary Kay – Loan Officer (it was on her name plate). I walked the member over, and said “Mary Kay would be happy to help you with a loan.”

Well, apparently that WASN’T the culture at the credit union. There was no “happy” happening on MK’s face. We never really did get along after that.

Finally, Jean comes over with a project to keep me busy. I spent my first day in credit union land making sure that all the signature cards were in alphabetical order. I’m happy to say I found eight of them in the wrong place.

Was I on the wrong bus? Stay tuned…..