A summer job is an education, says Jimmy Morgan, 17, handsome, six-footer of Scarborough, New York after a two month stint in the mail room of an “ad” agency, a job he took two days after he graduated from Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. Jimmy feels that the money he earned wasn’t important, it was the experience that really counts even if you are just tending tennis rackets.
“I met all sorts of people on this job, from race track touts and boozers to bank officers,” he says. “It was an adventure from start to finish.”
The cast of characters in the mail room included:
THE BOSS … “A very considerate, efficient fellow, terrific under pressure, who knows how to handle his men excellently. He was considerate, and I’ve decided that should be the ‘first qualification of the perfect boss,” Jimmy says.
THE PORTER … “He looks like a tough guy but is the kindliest man in the world. He showed me all the ropes, helped me the most, and I’m glad I met him.”
THE FIGHTER … “He is the character of the mail room, a man who has his ups and downs, but never stays down. He is always on his way back up the ladder.”
From these three, Jimmy learned that you must know people to understand them, and that first impressions aren’t always the best.
Jimmy worked two and a half weeks as a mimeograph attendant, the same length of time as a messenger, and three weeks as a helper to the mail room boss.
When Jimmy takes off for Princeton University this Fall, he’ll have learned a good Summer’s worth, including:
THE VALUE OF A DOLLAR … “It costs a lot to eat in New York City but I finally found a little restaurant where you could get a big bowl of spaghetti for 55 cents, tip 15 cents.” (He’ll appreciate Mom’s good cooking from here in). Mail room boys don’t earn high wages, and must relay on pocketing their transportation money. (You can make up to $18 a week by walking, not riding, and “everybody does it,” Jimmy says.)
IT PAYS TO MAKE FRIENDS … “What can you lose being nice to everyone? A Summer employee shouldn’t try to jeopardize the job of anyone who makes his living at it all the year round.”
EVERYBODY’S BOSS … “The mail room has more bosses than the entire Ellington Co. Everybody in the mail room wants to tell the boss how to do it.”
DISCRETION … “I was careful to maintain secrecy on a lot of things going on in the business. Mailroom boys know everything that is going on in an agency, see all memos, correspondence.”
BEST FOOT FORWARD … “I was chosen to get the president’s lunch, and other boys were chosen for important jobs on the basis of how well they could perform or how well they dressed if the assignment involved making a good appearance.”
DISADVANTAGES ¡¬ “There is little opportunity for advancement from a mail room, and most employees are just happy to get their pay. The work is exhausting and you are always running around, in and out of air-conditioned buildings, getting rained on, perspiring, getting chilled.”
PREPAREDNESS … “You must be prepared for emergencies, as one day I got caught way down in Wall Street without a subway token, and had to borrow money from an ice cream vendor.”
ADVANTAGES … “Time and a half for overtime and $13 for supper money when you have to work overtime.”
MYTH EXPLODED … “Ad agencies are not the glamorous places to work that best sellers make them out to be.”
RESPONSIBILITY … “I was frequently entrusted with large sums of money. On once occasion I carried $980 in cash.”
Jimmy won’t go back to the “ad” agency next Summer. He prefers to work on machines to fit in with the applied mathematics he’ll be studying at college.
“You have to go to college now to learn how to push buttons,” he says.
“I worked as a landscape gardener’s assistant last Summer and made four times more money as I made this Summer, but I didn’t learn as much” grins Jimmy.