It’s Been “The Longest Time”

23 04 2010

When I catch the scent from a bottle of suntan lotion I am instantly transported to the beach, even in the dead of winter.  I can feel the wind in my hair and the sand between my toes, hear the waves rolling in, even taste the salt water.  And it’s not just a sensory experience; my whole being can take on that beachy attitude.

Something kind of like that happened to me yesterday…but a lot more complicated.

THE SETUP

It started when the CD player in the car broke.  Rather than get it fixed I started using the tape player.  That coincided with some Billy Joel fan donating a bunch of tapes to the Restore, where I promptly latched onto them.  So for me it’s been all Billy Joel, all the time in the car lately.  Yesterday I ran across his song, The Longest Time. (Lively tune–listen to it once and you’ll enjoy it–listen to it a few times and it’ll be on your mind the rest of the day.)

THE HISTORY

When I graduated from college I worked for a small company that survived on Navy contracts.  The heart of the company was a cadre of PhD mathematicians who could talk circles around those captains.  The second tier was a bunch of software people (including me) who would write the programs to implement the grandiose schemes devised by the PhDs. It was a great job.  I went to sea on aircraft carriers at a time when, for women, that was just not done.

But then the branch manager, my boss, decided to start his own company.  Things went to heck.  He tried to hire me away.  I was torn between loyalty to him and loyalty to the company.  I ended up staying with the company.  Four of the seven people in our office left, including the branch manager, of course, and the administrative person (“secretary”).

Two things  I remember about the new secretary.  One day I was the second person arriving at the office and I found her shell-shocked in the back room.  She had just been robbed at gunpoint.  Right there in our offices.  Had I arrived ten minutes earlier the burglar would have gotten me too.  That was an eye opener.

The other thing I remember was how she loved the aforementioned Billy Joel song.  When it came on the radio on her desk she would turn it up and sing along.

I haven’t heard the tune in The Longest Time.  So yesterday when it came on I found myself reliving the chaos of those early post-college years.

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