Kathy Bassett's column, "The View from Maybell," appears in the Saturday Morning Press.
At my very first job, I made 50 cents an hour and thought I was rolling in the dough.
At 16, I went to work in a little neighborhood grocery. After the owner felt comfortable enough that I could run his store, he would take off a few hours each day and go do something else.
It was a fun job because the people were fun. Whenever there were no customers, I was supposed to take the eggs out of a huge crate and put them into egg cartons. Oh, well, that was boring, so one day I came up with the idea of making folks laugh when they got up in the morning to cook breakfast.
People loved it when they sleepily picked up an egg only to find messages written on them such as “Good Morning,” “Hello,” “How are you this fine day?” “This is no yolk!” “The yolk’s on you.”
I really think the little man’s business increased as people came just to see what was going to happen next. I’m sure one wouldn’t get by with things like this now. The world is too stressed out.
I like things to happen. I like excitement on the job. I worked admissions in an emergency room of a hospital and that was more exciting. When I wasn’t answering the phone, passing information over the intercom or admitting patients, I did the insurance billing.
One evening, a lady brought a very scared little girl to admissions and as I was filling out the papers, when I got to the part where I had to ask what the problem was, the mother told me the little girl had a bean stuck up her nose.
I’m sorry. I know it wasn’t a laughing matter, but it struck me as funny when it shouldn’t have happened, and I lost it. I laughed until I almost fell out of my chair. I couldn’t quit. The mother started laughing. Pretty soon, the little girl smiled.
A nurse came running down the hall to tell me that people all over the hospital were smiling and laughing, because the “Intercom had accidently been left on!”
I was also dispatcher for the Colorado State Patrol and a Sheriff’s Department.
Of course, that is a very serious job and one that you wouldn’t want to have too much fun, but it was a very small, one person office.
Some nights were pretty slow. My supervisor was sort of cranky and demanded everything be done in perfect order and “no mistakes allowed.”
So I tried very hard to please her. After I got accustomed to the job where I could handle it on my own alone, and she was home sound asleep in her bed, the patrolmen made the job fun.
One particular fellow used to call and the only thing he’d say was “Do you want fries with that?” (Only because he’d once arrested a teenager after a high-speed chase and when he finally got him to stop, and walked up to the car window, the kid rolled down his window and said “I’ll have fries with that!”)
Then, I delivered mail up Piceance Creek.
One lady used to sit in her mailbox (it was huge) waiting for me and then ask if I’d come balance her checkbook or have coffee or help her with something else. Several folks would leave notes in their boxes, asking me to bring them milk, bread or some tool.
I loved it. Well, except for the time I ran over a rancher’s dog and killed it. It was a total accident and as I sat there crying my eyes out, the rancher came over to my truck, patted my shoulder and told me he felt more sorry for me than his dog. He refused to let me replace it and I always felt bad about it.
I delivered not only the mail, but baby chickens, feed and grain, commodities, and in return, I was repaid with lots of smiles and happy people. I’ve always tried to give 110 percent on a job whether I liked it or not.
And, yeppers, this day and age people don’t smile enough. And there are hundreds of reasons to smile even when you don’t think there is. So no, maybe you can’t write on the eggs or be totally goofy, but you can keep that smile on your face, and that smile will bring lots of adventures.
NOTE: A previous version of this column contained an error and has been corrected.