When you worked at Sears you worked. Maybe that’s why a lot of people are such good workers, because they always had to work so hard.
Anyway, in 1940 I ended up in the collection department sitting next to Chuck Hanna. We dictated letters. We did all the no-payment accounts, where people would buy something and not even make the first payment. We were the guys who wrote the letters, sent out the stuff to the collectors.
Hanna used to teach me things, things he had learned in college. Every day he would write something out for me. He knew I was going to Loyola at night.
I had never been to college before–I had just finished high school. And he knew all this stuff that I didn’t know–definitions of words, philosophy, and all kinds of stuff.
Then Mr. Hanna, he couldn’t afford to work at Sears anymore. He was making about $35 a week. I was making $23.
He had three kids, and he was expecting the fourth. He gave up smoking. He said, “I can’t afford to buy cigarettes.”
So then he went out looking for a job. What he would do, he’d bring a suit coat and a shirt and leave it in the car. And then his wife would call and say one of the kids was sick or something, and he’d run out, get in the car, run over to the park somewhere, change his clothes, and then go for the interview. Anyway, he got a job at Spiegel’s.
So I got his job. When he left I was doing what he had done. After I’d had the job for about four months I was called into the manager’s office, and he says to me, “I called you in to tell you that I want you to improve your attendance.”
I didn’t know what he was talking about.
He said, “You have been tardy four times in the past year.”
I didn’t miss a day. I was never late. But I had been tardy four times. Eight o’clock was the starting time, but you were supposed to be there by 7:55. If you got there by 7:55 you were on time. But if you got there at 7:56 you were tardy. If you got there after 8 you were late.
Now you should have seen my friend Catherine and I running up five flights of stairs to punch in. Now if she punched in first she could be 7:55 and I could be 7:56. But anyway, four times in a whole year I got there after 7:55 but before 8.
So I listened, and I said, “I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better.”
Then I said, “By the way, I have taken over Mr. Hanna’s job for four months now, and I haven’t received any raise in pay.”
He said, “Miss Ryan, we are not talking about the work you do today. We are talking about your attendance. Good day.”
How do you like that?