We All Get Our Start Somewhere…

This morning is either a really odd time or a perfect time for reflection. Admittedly, I’m not typically a morning person by nature so I take no responsibility whatsoever for the collection of random thoughts bouncing around my dome at 6:15 in the morning.

And yet, here I am on November 4, 2010 thinking back to my first “real” job back in 1991. God only knows what my former boss was thinking when she hired me over about 50 other applicants in April of that year. I had no real experience in the mortgage industry. I didn’t really know what mortgages were or how they worked. I had some vague notion that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development would be a noble place to work – a place of compassionate concern for the housing needs of the downtrodden balanced by a practical eye for the management of risk. Truly, I had no clue what was in store for me when I accepted that job.

Looking back on that time, I now have a variety of reactions: equal parts horror, amusement, bewilderment and gratitude.  It was a strange place to work and I was one of a handful of employees that were under the age of 30.  Most of the employees had been with the department for anywhere from 10 to 30 years and seemed to be hoping for a quick and painless retirement.  So here I was, all of 23 years old brimming full of enthusiasm and naivety.  I really didn’t understand just how much bureaucracy can grind down a human being over time.

Within a couple of weeks of being on the job, I found myself rounding the corner and passing by a cubicle inhabited by an ancient creature a la Trixie from A Confederacy of Dunces.  I can’t even imagine what look I had on my face as she delivered a stinging slap to my rear end with a knowing grin on her face.  I know that in this day and age such things can result in termination, death by beheading etc, but I honestly think it has to be one of the funniest things that has ever happened to me.

Although this probably seems laughable at this time, back in 1991 our office was one of the few that had a real live working fax machine.  At the time it was every bit as amazing as an iphone or ipad.  And speaking of computers, our computer monitors came in two colors – green or amber.  Take your pick – either would give you a headache that can only be described as reminiscent of having your head stuck in a vice for hours – all the while having to watch re-runs of Jerry Springer shows. 

This evening at 6 PM I will be giving a presentation at a first time buyers class at the WFG office in Clackamas.  I’ve had 20 years (give or take) to know something about mortgages, risk, buying a home, owning a home – all the things I should have known when I first took that job way back when.  Which leads me back to one of those feelings I have toward my former boss – gratitude.  Amidst all the changes, all the bureaucratic mess and all the other things that in general drive us crazy about our jobs, I still love my job.  Thanks Mary.  If it weren’t for you, I’d never have started in this crazy business.


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