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

(188 Posts)
AgentProvocateur Wed 16-May-12 17:47:31

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.

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.

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!

AgentProvocateur Tue 05-Jun-12 21:55:24

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.

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".

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.

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)

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

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.

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.............

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!

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.

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?!

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.

Glosswitch Fri 18-May-12 17:52:58

I had a job clearing tables at a service station in 1989. It was awful - the smell was bad but it was just so mindnumbingly boring. And the restaurant had this crap "mountain lodge" theme, which included a fake waterfall which I broke by dropping a metal teapot into it (by accident. Probably. Anyhow, no one found out it was me). The one highlight was Michael LeVel (Kevin off Corrie) stopping there once. But actually, I think I may have been out sorting the bins and missed it (and hence imagined it by way of recompense. I get quite confused these days).

cherrybath Fri 18-May-12 17:36:35

I worked in the City in the early 70s and used to wear those skinny rib sweaters. I remember being told to wear a tight jumper and sit at the front desk. Also, when I left, there was an ode to my boobs in the company newsletter. sad Oh for the good old days before breastfeeding 4 children... (You may have noticed I am not one of the PC brigade)

AmazingDisgrace Fri 18-May-12 14:50:02

Worked in the office at Tower Records. I don't actually recall doing much work just being taken to lunch a lot. We used to have parties in the office and I remember the police telling us off for having the big windows open dangling our legs out onto Piccadilly Circus and drinking copiously, actually I've just remembered some poor PC marching through the shop up to the office and handing my friend her bra back which had fallen out the window. we weren't stripping she just had a spare outfit in the office.

suburbandream Fri 18-May-12 14:48:16

My first job was as a secretary on a weekly magazine. I was the only one in the office with an electric typewriter - all the journos had manual typewriters - oh the noise!! When we finally went computerised we all had to go on a course to learn about ergonomics and how to avoid Repetitive Strain Injury (it was going to be the next big thing!). Some high-tech contributors would send in those big floppy discs with their articles on, but most people used to send hand written things or manually typed pages, no email in those days of course so we had to re-type it all, what a bore ...

Piffpaffpoff Fri 18-May-12 14:46:27

Life Insurance 1988, earning £3963pa. You started off as a 'junior' and your job included going to the typing pool and collecting the typed up letters and delivering them to the correct people. And taking the drafted letters back to the typing pool. There was a buzzer that sometimes went, which was the MD, needing something delivered, there were always fights of 'you go!', 'no, you go!' when that happened cos everyone was scared of going and doing something wrong. Everyone smoked in the office, and more senior people were called Mr rather than by their first names.

When I got promoted to an actual role, we had one computer between 15-ish people, using Lotus 1-2-3 and Wordperfect. You had to be the next grade up to be allowed to use it. However, I was the proud owner of a massive desktop calculator for doing the Very Hard Sums that I spent my day doing. Some lucky people had paper rolls in their calculators, but I didn't. envy. I do recall we spent an awful lot of time capering, and nipping along the road to
Crawfords (precursor to Greggs) for cakes.

BoffinMum Fri 18-May-12 14:33:56

three more degrees

BoffinMum Fri 18-May-12 14:33:01

My first pay packet after tax in 1991 was £497.07, less about £44 a month for an all zone Travelcard so I could get to work, and £160 a month for childcare, so I had £293 a month left to play with.

Now after three mot degrees, 20 years more experience, plus tax, childcare and commuting costs I have -£58 a month left to play with.


Housemum Fri 18-May-12 14:08:23

And when I first started, the 4 of us new starters (2 male, 2 female) were taken for a chat with the office manager, who said that as we had A levels, we should think about doing our Banking Exams, "this applies more to you boys than the girls". It gave me great satisfaction when one of the boys didn't even pass his probation period, and I did actually get my ACIB. (Qualification that no longer exists, think they do a Financial Services degree now)

Housemum Fri 18-May-12 14:05:18

Worked in a bank from 1986 to 2003. Back in the beginning, my morning duties involved filing copies of customers' statements into plastic boxes - hoiking up trolleyfuls of grey plastic filing boxes from the vault downstairs (there was a lift at least!), filing the statements in, then taking them all back down at the end of the day. Every so often (6 monthly?) we had the task of putting them into those binder things with 2 posts to put through the punched holes. If a customer wanted a photocopy of a statement over a year old you hand to manhandle this 4 inch thick binder onto the photocopier and hope it copied ok! Eventually we moved onto the technology of having copy statements sent to us on microfiche. Long time later it was all computer based.

I remember the signature cards - having to check the card for every customer who came in to cash a cheque. And checking every cheque that came into the branch over £1000 for the signature.

Cancelling the clearing - checking the date/words and figures/that there was a signature on every cheque, having to initial each one. But NEVER in green ink as that was the colour the branch inspection team used.

Writing notes on i-sheets, every time a business customer called, we had to handwrite a note of the conversation onto this A3 card, they were all filed in alphabetical order. Likewise this was the main record of what overdraft they had, what loans they had etc. Smaller businesses had i-cards, A5 version of the same thing. (i for "information" sheets - sadly they were not a funky Apple product!)

LukeWarmMomma Fri 18-May-12 13:29:31

I worked for a large mail order catalogue in Worcester and there were 3 canteens - the plebs one (I went to that one!), one for middle management and the directors canteen and I remember someone who worked in the kitchens saying all the food was cooked separately - even if we were all eating boiled potatoes that day they would all be cooked in different pans!

BigBoobiedBertha Fri 18-May-12 13:21:58

Sorry on my phone and somehow posted to soon

I was going to say we did all our accounts prep and audit papers by hand in pencil. We only use the very scary computers to input the final figures so that it could churn out a set of sccounts which we then checked and took to the secretaries to do amendments. The computer package couldn't be customised at all.

When I first started one of the partners sent me out in my car with a pad of paper to go round all the industrial estates and business parks to make a note of all the businesses in the area. Then I had to go through the yellow pages to find their postal addresses so that they could be used for marketing purposes. It was a horrible job but I made a fortune in petrol expenses. Google has put paid to that little perk - what took me dats could probably be done in an hour or two now.

BigBoobiedBertha Fri 18-May-12 13:11:00

My first Saturday job I worked in the food hall in Littlewoods. The first day I worked on the sweet counter - no pic n mix back then. I had to add everything up in my head because the till couldn't do it. After that I worked on the deli counter. No tongs or gloves - we just used to turn the bag inside out and put that over our hands. 30 years on I can still judge a 1/4 lb of naice ham by sight. And a lb of streaky bacon.

My first proper job was as a trainee accountant and we weren't supposed to wear trousers as the clients apparently didn't like it.

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