I was listening to a recording of a man talking about how things in his business have changed from 1982 to now, and it made me nostalgic for when I started working. It was a truly very different world when I got out of school and started in the professional world.
My first job as a paralegal, I had to change gears really fast, from student to working woman.
I had gone through college being rebellious and doing my best to not conform to any stereotypical idea of ladylike behavior. I was a Drama major. I smoked. I drank beer. I wore cammo pants and torn tee shirts. I never wore makeup or perfume. My hair was usually a mess. I thought hairspray was for old ladies.
I had no business clothes. My mother bought me a suit so I could interview when I finished paralegal school in 1985. I also had to wear pantyhose and high heels and THAT was painful, with my hobbit feet.
My first paralegal job interview was a fiasco because I slapped on some clownish red lipstick on the way to the office, in the elevator, not realizing how awful it looked. That was with King & Spalding, the biggest law firm in town, where they have original Picasso paintings on the lobby walls.
Needless, to say, I didn't get that job..
When I finally got a job [in Knoxville] I was relegated to a corner of a secretary's office because they had run out of space. I had no computer. I didn't even have a typewriter. The other paralegal in the office whispered to me the first day and said "NEVER type anything yourself. They will treat you like a secretary if you do!"
I gave all my typing to the secretaries. I felt guilty doing it, but it wasn't my fault I had no way to type my own work. The secretaries were still using massive electric typewriters. Some weighed 500 lbs. and had a tiny bit of memory - the typewriters, I mean.. About a year before I left that job, the firm finally got the secretaries computers. All the secretaries hated them and were horrified. Most of them had come along in the days when they had to learn shorthand.
So much was different. I had to wear pantyhose and either skirts or dresses, or very dressy slacks. No open-toed shoes. No low cut tops. I got away with skipping the pantyhose only in the summer, if I had on a mid-calf skirt and could wear knee-hi's.
Thanks to the movie Working Girl, by 1988 I would wear tennis shoes when walking from the parking garage to the office and then put on dress shoes when I got to my desk every morning.
Some people were still smoking openly in their offices when I started working. I would smoke in my office with the window open after I finally got an office. It was the last vestige of my rebellious college self. [I quit smoking in 1997]
I was a paralegal for 8 years before moving here to Atlanta, and that first job here was the first time I had ever had a computer on my desk that I could use. It was such a culture shock, coming to a big city law firm. There were about 8 paralegals! We didn't have to buy Christmas gifts for the attorney's wives or pick up their laundry!
The most "high tech" thing I saw in my first few working years was a fax machine. I had to get permission from the office manager to use it.
I remember when I thought laptop computers were way too high-tech and exotic to even contemplate owning.
Here's one that will shock the younger generation: I remember when there was only one phone company and phones were only bought through them. Here in the south it was Bellsouth. Period. You had a home phone and a work phone. There was no such thing as voicemail.
There was no texting.
Cameras were expensive and had to be loaded with film. Then you had to get the film developed, which took a few days or a week.
The 80's were my favorite fashion time. I loved the shoulder pads! I have very narrow shoulders. I loved the wide belts that accentuated my tiny waist.
I loved the big fluffy hair. BIG hair.
I still have all my 80's jeans and some of the tops, and all of the big earrings. I can still fit into the earrings..
I can get nostalgic about those days, and I miss certain aspect of them, but I don't have any huge regrets. I like my life now, for the most part.
But the fashions, I do miss those. One day, my friends. Everything old will eventually come back into fashion...