Window to the World

bighorns 1218Lynn’s had her complaints about her posting at the Almont Post Office, many of them focused on the fact that it’s a manual office, and most of her training was for automated processes — but then she looks out the window. Does your work view look like this?

My work views have seldom been great — no corner offices with sweeping views of the cityscape . . . oh, wait.

Once we get beyond the animal/lawn care/substitute paper carrier portion of my worklife, my first official scheduled job with an actual paycheck was when I was 16, and I worked in a darkroom. Not a dark like dingy room, but dark as in no light. None. No red safe light, just black.

I got a summer job with the Goldbergs at Gunnison Camera Center, and my assignment was to splice rolls of customer film together so they could run through the developing machine. So in complete darkness I would crack open a film canister, unroll the film and splice it to the roll I’d just done. This all wound onto a large reel, and when it was full, I set it somewhere, and Bernie Goldberg would take it from there.

I actually liked the job, although I did make my family laugh by coming home each day and eating carrots to help my vision. It provided a lot of “thinking” time, and I didn’t have to interact with anyone.

Well, that sounds rather antisocial, now doesn’t it? But I have always enjoyed having time to myself.

However, the next summer I settled on a different job, and for the next three years I worked for the Bartsches at Hi-Country Service, a gas station/laundromat. There were windows, although the view was nothing exciting in any direction. My main focus was trying to track the cars out at the pumps, vigilantly checking to ensure everyone came in to pay for their gas — or at least sign on their account. I am unaware of any drive-offs on my watch.

I parlayed that experience into a semester at a Sinclair gas station in Boulder. In one of my many brushes with fame, Allen Ginsberg was a regular customer. Yes, the poet. I never really worked up the nerve to say anything to him, however, other than “Thank you” as he paid for his gas.

And, in one of those great uses of my valuable brain cells, I can still remember one customer’s distinctive Florida license plate: HIJ-007. Otherwise, it was a matter of watching the traffic at Folsom and Canyon — no exciting view there, either.

My first post-college, real-world this-has-to-pay-all-these-bills.-I-suddenly-have job was at the Gunnison Country Times. (Where I met Flo, who follows this blog. Hi, Flo!) There was, in fact, a window in my corner non-office, but it looked into the manager’s office. Or maybe: his office looked out onto my desk. Either way, it was usually curtained off.

My wall was dark corkboard, which didn’t help make the room — I shared this room with the rest of the editorial staff and advertising — any bigger, but it did allow me to easily start cluttering the wall with pictures, news clippings, posters, toys.

And I got up and moved around a lot, past windows, most of which look out onto the Gunnison Post Office. The front windows look onto Wisconsin Street (see how all the portents were leading to Lynn?) and what was then Blackstock Elementary. I used to enjoy looking out to see all the kids at recess. One day they were frolicking with a dog, and I suddenly realized “a dog” was “my dog” Reprieve, far from home where she was supposed to be.

And anytime I see a brilliant fall sunset, I fondly recall the days when my co-worker Roger (no longer with us) would mandate a “sunset break,” and he and I would sit in the front room admiring the bright bit of sky we could see over Blackstock.

When I left the newspaper, I went across the alley to the Book Worm. There were large windows fronting Main Street, but my favorite job was in the windowless back, tucked in a corner where UPS delivered our boxes of books. Boxes of new books waiting to be opened and entered into the computer, set aside for special orders or placed on the shelves. That is like heaven on Earth.

Unfortunately, several circumstances changed (including the way the world accesses books), or I might be there yet, happily unpacking new books. The event that really spelled the end was when the owner paid a promotional company to come in, and the first thing the company did was plaster every window with Day-Glo paper touting sales. It was like living in a pink-and-orange cave — and the lack of a view was soul-sucking.

I ended up part-time at the airport and part-time at Pat’s Screen Printing.

Airport. Now there’s a job with a view, sort of. My first job was in security (pre-TSA screening of bags), and while there were large windows all around, my job was to stare with great intent at the monitor of the x-ray machine. I could look out the windows when passengers were all cleared.

My boss lost her contract three months into my stint, so I bounced to American Airlines, handling baggage. And while much of that job can be done in the Great Outdoors, I gravitated to the bag room, with little tiny garage windows and lots of fluorescent lights. When I did go outside to help, I would often crawl into the cargo bins of the airplane to off-load or on-load bags.

I enjoyed most of my time at the airport, despite the layers upon layers of bureaucracy, but my back was protesting more and more, and life was getting busier at Pat’s. So I finally called it quits after 16 winter seasons.

Now, when I started at Pat’s, it came without any windows at all. In nice weather we could open the back door, which offered a very indirect path for natural light, and our front entrance opened into the back of the Boom-A-Rang, which waaaaay at the other end had windows fronting Main Street.

Within about three years we needed to relocate, to a portion of our current location. Jennifer, then the Woman in Charge, and I spent many hours those first many months, possibly a year, just staring out the window (again, fronting Main Street) and remarking on how great it was to have windows.

However, by choice (well, and some logistics), I located my desk where it remains to this day: at the very back of the building, facing cinderblock walls (which were quickly covered with pictures, news clippings, posters and toys).

I still move around a lot during the day, and see the streetscape as I pass by windows, but my lot in life seems to be consigned to shadowy corners and living in the dark. (You don’t need to bother; I’ve said it for you: I often find myself in the dark.) Of course, Lynn’s life is not all sagebrush and bighorns: she does have those typical commuter complaints. You know, like elk herds.

elk 1218

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