Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Week 41 of 2012 - Work and other adventures...

Working for StorageTek in Phoenix was a great adventure for me.  I was a field service technician. I repaired peripheral computer equipment for major corporations like Greyhound, UHaul, State Farm, ASU, American Express, ATT and GTE.  Many large corporations had headquarters in Phoenix which had very large data centers.  Computer rooms were the size of large gymnasiums and several were the size of football fields.  I had never seen anything like it.

STC Phoenix employees 1982 summer picnic

When I started work for Willard, he proudly told me that I was the 26th woman Field Engineer in the country out of an FE work force of 3000 men and women. Needless to say, I worked with a lot of men.  The week after I started, another woman called Willard from the Los Angles office and told him she would be transferring  to Phoenix.  She was the 13th woman Field Engineer and her name was Ivy Anderson.  She boldly told Willard that she was marrying a guy from Phoenix and had put in for a transfer.

Willard responded, "But I just hired a lady!"
Ivy said, "  Well, I guess now you will have two. How does that sound, two woman FE's in Phoenix.  I'll bet that is a first!"

And it was.  From the first moment that I met her, I loved her.   I walked into the office on her first day and instantly we both reacted with a large grin!

"You must be Jan,"  she said.
"You must be Ivy"  I said in stereo!

Inseparable friends - 1985

And for the next ten years, we were inseparable. My first few weeks in Phoenix I worked along side the rest of the guys.  They showed me the ropes and I began to really like what I did.  It was not easy work but I liked it.  After about 6 weeks, I was sent to Boulder for basic tape school for three weeks of training which would then be followed by a two week disk training course.  5 Weeks in Boulder Colorado!  My instructor for Basic Tape was Alan Braggins, a coworker from Phoenix.  He was the Sr. FE at "The Arizona Bank", TAB, and was thinking about becoming an instructor.   It was a great experience for me to have someone I knew for my first class.  

Coworkers Alan Braggins and Chap Troutman - 1982

Getting to Boulder would be require the second plane ride of my life but this time Alan would be taking the same flight so I did not seem quite so alone.  From Phoenix to Denver it took about an hour to fly and then a shuttle ride up to the training facility in Boulder.  It was in Boulder at school where I first realized that not everyone like working with a woman.  Actually, I was trying so hard to learn what I needed for my job, that I did not realize that some of the guys resented the fact that I was there...  I was way too busy for that!  One afternoon when I was taking a timed lab exercise, I began to get frustrated, very stressed and even a bit frightened.  I totally did not understand what was happening around me.  I would put down a tool and it would disappear. Then the pages of my book would be test equipment settings were changed.... and tools would be moved.  About half way through my lab, I thought I was losing my mind.  Alan came over to me and stopped my test.  I protested but he said to me, "Jan, I want to go have a smoke."  I told him I did not need one, I needed to finish my lab.  He looked me in the eyes and said, "Jan, go have a smoke, use the rest room and come back in 15 minutes."   So I did.

After 15 minutes, I came back.  He told me to take a deep breath and restart my lab.  I did and finished it successfully well within the time frame allotted for the lab. Later that day, I learned that some of the younger guys in the class were purposefully messing with me during my lab.  I was concentrating so hard on what I was doing, I did not realize it. They were changing the pages in my books, taking my tools and changing the settings on the Oscilloscope.  Alan escorted them from the school and put them on a plane bound for home.  I am sure that they had a lot of explaining to do to their boss.   By the end of my first class, the remaining men in the class respected me and I respected them. 

I missed my family and my husband but for about 6 months I was able to concentrate most days on learning alot in a very short time. 

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