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.

Brightspark1 Fri 18-May-12 18:45:25

Getting sacked as a tea lady, working in the kitchen at the London office of Moët et Chandon and going home every day pissed from finishing up leftover champagne, working opposite Harrods when the bomb went off, taking 7 hours to do 2 hours worth of filing( was warned to slow down and make it last. Then I graduated and worked in a hospital, everyone smoked in the ward sister's office, doctors were right even when they were blatantly wrong, and seeing the first HIV patients appear- they were so badly treated. Things really have got so much better.

JuggleBum Sat 19-May-12 06:24:39

How about being told to remove a photo of my husband and new born son as it was "inappropriate" in the workplace?!

cherrybath Sat 19-May-12 12:17:49

I worked in a university for 10 years of so. Mothers NEVER mentioned their children in public, it was almost as if admitting to having children was a weakness.

shockers Sat 19-May-12 12:27:28

I was an apprentice hairdresser. The staffroom was thick with smoke when we were eating and customers lit up while we were standing over them!

My boss had trained under Vidal Sassoon and had lots of anecdotes about long hours and poor treatment (think Monty Python's 'Don't know they're born' sketch), which he felt he had to replicate to build character.

He once insulted a client by laughing out loud when she suggested a middle parting and snorting, "Not with your nose madam!" When she took offence, he said "Shockers, get this lady her coat, she is leaving" and flounced off and left me to it!

orangeandlemons Sat 19-May-12 12:53:48

I remember being told to wear as short as possible skirts when ealing with male customers to encourage them to clinch the business. I didn't thik anything of it at the time.............

SoyYo Sat 19-May-12 16:00:13

I work in Procurement. In the late '80s remember the large electronics manufacturer I worked for had an on site "sports and social club", i.e. pub, ON SITE.
All the older more senior buyers (men of course) would go there every single lunchtime and down two or three pints...goodness knows how they managed any work in the afternoon. And yes we all smoked at our desks.

Idontknowhowtohelpher Sat 19-May-12 16:41:14

In the early 80s I was one of 8 women in a sales office of about 50 men. We were not allowed to wear trousers, it was expected that the "girls" would organise the tea and there were ashtrays on every desk.

After some campaigning the women were told we would be allowed to wear smart trousers in the office - but not if we were going out to meet customers. Within 3 days over 40 of the men had signed a petition that trousers should be forbidden again - as they would rather look at girls in skirts! shock

PigletJohn Fri 01-Jun-12 17:11:44

I remember the tea trolley!

When I started work at S***** Electric in about 2004 (it was by no means my first job) I was amazed that a lady came round with a trolley of tea, buns and (I think) sandwiches.

They discontinued it within a few months of my arrival sad

At the Pru, people leaving or getting promoted used to pay the canteen to deliver a trolley of nibbles (there may have been wine, I can't remember)

Hopefullyrecovering Fri 01-Jun-12 17:22:27

First job after university

Friday lunchtimes, getting drunk. Watching the lunchtime stretch. Wondering if any of us were going to make it back. Around 4 pm was always the point of no return.

UniS Sun 03-Jun-12 23:27:30

I id some work experience in the late eighties, with a touring theatre company that I then joined in 1991. So I'm at the end of this era, but...
The company had a "portable phone", at lunchtime we would take it to the pub with us. It had a shoulder strap and weighed a ton, but it was progress, the previous year someone had had to phone the office from a pay phone twice a day to get box office figures and the like.
The oldest women I was working with ( technicians/ stage managers) were aged 30 (12 years older than I was), they were in senior roles ( and tough as old boots) but it was still considered a bit odd for a woman to be a lighting technician. Lots of people smoked while working.

Another job I had in 1990 , a TV production company, the boss was serious when he told a new receptionist that what he wanted from her was " tits and teeth" to charm visitors. I didn't stay there long as he "preferred grammar school boys for runners as they are polite and well spoken".

I hadn't realised this was still going on! I've loved reading about everyone else's experiences.

Before my first "proper" job, I had a saturday job in the food hall in BHS (with a fetching green and white flowery pinafore, green blouse and straw boater!) The mention upthread of luncheon vouchers reminded me that at Christmas time, customers would come in with envelopes full of the damn things - all differing denominations, including odd amounts like 15p and 35p. They'd then pay for a huge shop with the vouchers, and I'd need to add them all up mentally! Nightmare.

emmanana Sat 16-Jun-12 13:49:07

I remember Luncheon vouchers. Our local convience store near work took them for anything - even vodka and ciggies!

SiSiTD Fri 22-Jun-12 12:08:41

Reading through these has provided considerable amusement.

It reminded me of the stench of the smoking room permeating the school corridors in the early noughties and when my DM told me of her job in the 80's when she went to meet clients and the client would automatically introduce themselves to my DMs assistant as the exec as he was male and get her to make the coffee even after knowing her seniority over him.

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