It was with some trepidation that I boarded the #1 bus at Penn Station. A summer job at Stanley Tools seemed to be the next best thing to an actual internship in industry; and the summer between junior and senior year at Newark College of Engineering demanded a significant notch in my experience belt. Besides, I didn’t have many other options.
After a few days of meeting people getting used to the office routine (including learning to operate the terrifying switchboard), I settled in as an all-around back-office person. Within a couple of weeks, I’d transitioned into a temporary role as the Assistant to the Production Manager. The work itself was fun, as I familiarized myself with SKU’s and specifications, for the full line of hand tools; and assisted the PM in running production stats, quality reports, and throughput projections.
Along the way, I became enamored of the switchboard and its spiderweb complexity of criss-crossing lines and potentially devastating toggle switches, when I wasn’t otherwise immersed in the fascinating world of ball peen hammers and hand tools.
But it was a natural facility with scheduling and the ease with which I conquered the steep learning curve, that allowed me to become a contributor. I loved the work and genuinely liked my boss, who took me under his wing. Unlike other summer gigs (i.e. the summer of ’65: 10 weeks of long, hot days, ‘imprisoned’ in an oppressively confining room of file cabinets and an equally oppressive clique of girls and women – workmates /cell mates) this was a team of ‘adults’ who appreciated that I had adaptable skills that could benefit their operations.
In the years that followed, I would recall this summer with fondness, grateful to have had the experience. It was here that I first realized my penchant for Project Management, for viewing all things as logical sequences of activities; and for being part of a well-functioning team.
The summer of ’66 flew by, and I was sad to leave; but it was with great anticipation that I rejoined the game, the final sprint on my journey to become a Chemical Engineer. Turning the page that ended the “Stanley Tools” chapter of my journal, I opened to the next: “Senior Year.”
This entry in my Engineer’s Journal, was inspired by the Friday, July 4th Light and Shade Challenge, with the prompt that included a photo of a well-used, Stanley measuring tape.
Oh my. Brings back memories. Love the laborious girls’ clique summer juxtaposed with a summer of balpeen hammers and throughput projections! It reminds me of a mid-’70’s day as a recent transfer to the NY branch. The boss’ young sec’y– having apparently decided I was strange but not threatening– asked quietly, “but Ginny, how can you stand it, it’s so boring, the bulldozers and cranes and all?” I remembered an exciting ride on a bulldozer (in my dad’s lap) and just laughed.
Yes – the stories I could tell – and maybe will tell as time goes by. This Engineer’s Journal is a start to recap. I I were to pull into an anthology of sorts, I’d have to make all the styles consistent – first person – maybe not. Anyway, thank you for reading, Ginny.
I really enjoyed your piece, it reminded me of the patchwork experience of temping – some offices are amazing, some are awful. I loved the take on the picture as well. And word count, what word count? Lyssa M x
Thanks, Lyssa – you made me laugh out loud!
It’s funny, until I started thinking about it, I had forgotten how much I truly hated the previous summer job. That’s why writing is so wonderful – it gets our brain into little nooks and crannies that we had hidden away. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday night, and thanks for what you do.
I did not even notice your word count. I simply enjoyed the story and, quite frankly, I did the same thing last weekend. I too was forgiven by the kind folks here.
I’m so glad we both belong to such an understanding community. Thanks.
You use words as expertly as the tools of your trade in that story – a really engaging read which I enjoyed a lot.
(and between you and me, Lyssa and I never worry about word counts – as long as people have fun and give us something good to read, we’re happy)
Thanks, Thomas. You are so kind. I felt bad when I realized and have since left a comment on your page. I’m usually obsessed with word counts but I forgot that it was the weekend prompt to which I was responding.
It sounds like you had a rewarding time. You may have used too many words though. Good write regardless!
Yes…far too many words! Mea culpa from the red-faced one.