Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Workday Wednesday: My mother's career with the telephone company

In 1963, my mother was a 20-year-old "newlywed" living in Jacksonville, Florida.  Her cousin, Mary Ann, worked as an operator for Southern Bell and gave my mother an introductory card, which was a form of recruitment the company used in those days.  She went downtown and took all of the tests required for the job - spelling, writing, simple arithmetic - and did well.  Once she got a copy of her birth certificate from California and the company spoke with her husband - she would be working nights and they had to make sure that was alright with him - she began work in January 1963.

Her first job was as a long distance operator.  She worked split shifts:  10:30 am - 2 pm and then 7 pm - 1:30 am.  She took the bus, my father drove her to work, or she took the company taxi.  She did this for over two years. 

Then she became a Service Order Typist in the Assignment Office.  Her job was to run the tapes through and if there were any changes on the service order, she had to stop the tape and make the changes.  At the end of the tape, she had to put in information as to who did the installation, time of completion, and subscriber information.  She was in this job for only six months because she and my father then moved to Augusta, Georgia.

Mom transferred to Augusta as a Service Order Typist.  She started there the first week of October 1965.  She was in this position for about two years.  She had been promoted to Dispatch Clerk when she found out she was pregnant with me.  She took five months of maternity leave and when she returned to work, the company put her in a lower grade position.  Mom filed a grievance and won back her Dispatch Clerk position. 

She continued in that position for about two more years.  Since she was working six days a week with a lot of overtime, my father wanted her to put in for a position in the Business Office.  She got that position about 1969-70.

Then my father lost his job.  He wanted to move back to Jacksonville.  Mom got a transfer in October 1971.   She worked in the residential business office for two years.  That department put more and more emphasis on selling, which Mom didn't like, so she put in a request for business orders.  She worked there for approximately two years.

Then my father wanted to leave Jacksonville.  They considered moving to Swainsboro, Georgia next to my grandparents, and Mom even applied for a transfer to the closest business office in Dublin.  However, that plan was scrapped, and she had to rescind her transfer request.

In November of 1973, my grandparents passed away.  It soon became apparent that my grandmother's sister, who had been living with my grandparents, was unable to live on her own.  So my father and I moved to Swainsboro in August of 1975.  Mom came up every weekend from Jacksonville - a four hour drive each way.  She applied for a transfer to Dublin and it finally came through in April 1976.

The opening in Dublin was in the Engineering Department as an Engineering Clerk.  It was a 70 mile round trip.  She worked as an Engineering Clerk and then a Drafting Clerk (which was a higher grade) for four years.  Then she put in for the higher grade position of Engineering Assistant and because of her seniority within the company, she got the job.

The phone company broke apart in 1983, and Mom chose to go with BellSouth.  She was able to continue to work in Dublin as an Engineering Assistant until 1990 when the company closed the Dublin office.

Thus began the era of reshuttling/closing offices.  It happened every few years like clockwork.  The company would spend no telling how much refurbishing an office to turn around and close it in just a couple of years.

My parents had purchased a lot and built a house on Lake Sinclair in Milledgeville, Georgia.  So after the Dublin office closed, they moved there, and Mom transferred to Macon (another 70 mile or so round trip).  She worked there as an Engineering Assistant for almost five years when the company announced there would be changes in the Macon District.  All those who had worked in Dublin could either return there or transfer to Augusta.  If Mom had chosen to return to Dublin, she would have had to go back to being a Drafting Clerk (a lower grade job).  If she chose to transfer to Augusta, she would transfer as an Engineering Assistant and would work under someone she liked very much, Kathy Reese.  She chose Augusta, with my father's agreement, and they moved in 1995.

Mom (on the right) with Kathy at Mom's 40th anniversary recognition
In Augusta, Mom worked as a Subscriber Advocate in the SAC until she transferred to EWO when it moved from Atlanta to Augusta.  Then BellSouth did some redistricting AGAIN and moved the Augusta office across town, and Mom had to transfer back to SAC.  She worked there until 2007 when BellSouth closed that office.  Rather than transfer to Atlanta, Mom chose to retire.  She remained in the job bank for a year and officially retired in April of 2008.  She retired with 44 years of service to the telephone company.

Mom in her cubicle on Walton Way Ext in Augusta, right before she retired.

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