It was acceptable in the '80s... Come and reminisce about your first job.

(188 Posts)

I left uni in 1987, and worked in an office. We had a telex machine which was a complete bastard to operate, and although we had computers, most correspondence was done on electric typewriters. In about 1988 or 1989, we got our first fax machine (with a roll of thermal paper) and then in the early '90s we got an internal email system which we all thought was amazing.

My manager was the first person I knew to get a mobile - a huge brick that plugged into the cigarette lighter in the car, and could, I think, only be used in the car.

But what seems most amazing now was the fact that we all smoked at our desks, and we had company ashtrays. Our MD had a box of cigarettes on his desk that he'd hand round at meetings. It seems unbelievable that this was the 1980s and not the 1940s.

We also used to do a lot of business lunches, and we'd often stay in the pub for the rest of the afternoon.

Changed days.

Francesco Wed 16-May-12 17:49:48

Can't reminisce my first proper job was in 2000! I was a child in the 80s. wink

Olympia2012 Wed 16-May-12 17:50:50

I was a cook at a 'little chef'!

I remember the live aid concert whilst working we would take in turns to sit in the car and listen on the radio! Then go inside and report back.

We also took it in turns to stand at the incinerator and burn boxes.... In our uniforms, no gloves or protective gear at all. No extinguisher nearby, nothing. Health and safety didn't seem to exist back then..

dweezle Wed 16-May-12 17:55:03

Oooh yes, smoking at desks. Me (I was the juniorest of juniors) making the tea for everyone and them all having cups and saucers, not mugs.

Putting up the pay - £10 notes in little glassine envelopes.

Switchboard with dozens of plugs and leads.

The company chairman calling me dear.

Being told off for wearing trousers to work.

No mobiles, no email - you had to pick up the phone and call someone or actually get up off your bum and go and see them - and I'm convinced we got more work satisfactorily done becasue of it.

Olympia2012 Wed 16-May-12 17:57:07

Ah yes, CASH pay packets!!

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 16-May-12 17:58:43

I worked for a pretty big company when I left uni in the mid-eighties and we actually had internal e-mail <gasp>. There was a bloke that knew how to work the telex but, by then, it was already on the way out. The fax was incredibly slow and buzzed through a document one..line..at..a..time. Curly, curly paper... Smoking... ah yes... the brownish, yellowy walls were a dead giveaway. Then there were the silly hours. Anyone owning up to leaving early for a family reason was barracked as a 'part-timer' and if your car wasn't in the car-park before the boss got in at 7.45 ditto.

AreWeHavingFunYet Wed 16-May-12 18:04:29

I joined a Lloyd's underwriting agency in the late 80's and the female staff worked 9.15 to 5.15 while the men worked 9 to 5.30. That changed right at the end of 1989 but as OP says it sounds like the 1940's.

Annunziata Wed 16-May-12 18:24:10

I was the general skivvy in a cafe. I worked from early morning or from when I came home from school until the pubs came out. The cook was a chain smoker, we didn't have an electric scale so we had a massive reference book of tables or did the sums in our heads, we had to pull up the massive heavy shutters by hand, we took the orders into the kitchen rather than using a computer printout, you got sweeties from a jar in quarters and two-ounces worth, you could either get vanilla ice cream or raspberry ripple. All pay was cash on a Friday and there were no time cards- you came on time and that was it! Oh, and a boy kissed me in the stockroom in 1985.

I married him and I'm now the manager grin

Dweezle, you've reminded me that we had a tea lady too when I started. She came round twice a day with a trolley, urn and cups and saucers. She retired not long after I started, but I think she'd been there for about 40 years.

AreWeHavingFunYet Wed 16-May-12 18:32:44

Who remembers DOS based programmes in the days before Windows?

And using word processor software with things like cntl B to start bold and cntl B to end bold and it wrote all of those commands on the screen around your actual letter.

bigTillyMint Wed 16-May-12 18:35:28

I was a barnaid in a real ale pub. I had to wear a buxom wench outfit, complete with pinny. I am not buxom by any stretch of the imaginationgrin

JeanBodel Wed 16-May-12 18:39:12

I remember in my first job we had to share the computer - one between the two of us. But this was early 90's.

DressDownFriday Wed 16-May-12 18:39:12

I used to work in a bank. If another branch was running short of cash we used to put £5/£10k in a bag and walk it round shock.

Our manager also used to let us eat Artic Roll whilst serving customers.

exexpat Wed 16-May-12 18:40:37

Data input for an insurance company in 1985 for the princely wage of £55 a week, which really pissed me off because that was the rate for under-18s, and my other friends working there all got £70 for the same job.

Most boring thing I have ever done, and I only stuck it for about two months, rather than the intended five (luckily it was just a gap-year job, and I already had something lined up abroad for the second half).

Started full time work in 89. We had mainframe computers with terminals and internal email. Two printers for about 80 people and you had to walk 1/4 of a mile down a corridor to get to them. Moved onto Wordperfect and Lotus 123 before Windows came along. The colour photocopier was the size of a car. This was in a fairly hi-tech multinational.

I still do Ctrl B for bold.

At a Saturday job in Bejam, circa 1984, we had those tills with the big push down buttons and no conveyor belts, you had to count the change backwards to people, 36,38,40,50 one pound, thank you.

BawdyStrumpet Wed 16-May-12 18:43:32

Oh yes - ashtrays on the desks and the scary telex machine. They were gradually being replaced by faxes when I first started work. I did a business course with secretarial studies and learnt pitman shorthand and blind typing. The typewriters were electronic though at that stage.

In the early 90s, it was recommended that the company bought me a PC for writing letters etc. I did a word processing course. My boss was HIGHLY suspicious of the thing, and felt the need to keep checking that I was actually working.....though what else I could have done with it is a mystery...solitaire maybe?

Horsetowater Wed 16-May-12 18:47:34

I still use Ctrl B to get bold! Remember wordperfect?

I used a manual typewriter first, then an IBM golfball (with self-correct ribbon that was like * magic *.

I remember a room full of computer, had to be specially air conditioned and only one person had access. All of this was around 1982.

I must say the only thing that hasn't changed much is wages.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Wed 16-May-12 18:47:47

People don't tell you how much change they're giving you, let alone cout in back these days, do they? I think that's a very recent thing. A bit like how barstaff now can't add up a round in their heads, and have to consult the computerised till.

I don't blame any decline in mathematical ability on schools. My mental arithmetic was cack before I started work in the 80s; I blame it on lazy-arsed cashiership angry

BawdyStrumpet Wed 16-May-12 18:48:09

yy to Lotus and Wordperfect.....The betamax of pc programmes.....

Oh and I had to do cc on letters and faxes and spend AGES photocopying stuff, just so Big Boss could see that I had chased a delivery or something - like he cared.....The shocking waste of paper!

Eowyn Wed 16-May-12 18:48:38

I started work in insurance in 87 for £4500 p/a. Smoked at desks & had 3 tea ladies called Rita, Josie & Florrie who looked exactly liked tea ladies should & were scandalised that I dunked my custard cream. The manager was Mr ... & held in awe.
They employed some Indian girls while I was there as they'd been told they ought to & a boss confided in me "they're hard workers you know".

T'was another world.

BawdyStrumpet Wed 16-May-12 18:50:15

Oh - and the receptionist putting through calls! These days I don't even have a landline at work....

VivaLeBeaver Wed 16-May-12 18:50:25

We had a typing pool. If we had something that needed typing we'd go and give it to a typist from the typist pool.

We had a horrible ring binding machine to bind reports that I could never work. Someone would take me every week and show me how to work it and in the 18months I was there I never did figure it out.

BikeRunSki Wed 16-May-12 18:51:22

When I started my first proper graduate job in the early 1990s it was acceptable to make very sexist remarks about women on building sites, however much they were disguised as gentle teasing (or not).

Ten years later I got statement on my disciplinary records for whispering a very slight innuendo about a male collegue tis female one. The type of remark I used to get ten times in the mornings before I'd even put my hard hat on.

BawdyStrumpet Wed 16-May-12 18:51:25

The trolley used to bring bacon and sausage rolls at 10,30. <<salivates>>

I didnt work in the 80s as I was too young, but I remember begging my parents for a CB radio. They told me I could get one when I was 15.

By the time I was 15, they were obsolete and laptops/internet were the norm.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now