Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Worst Typo Ever?
I subscribe to a number of blogs, and a few that suggest blog topics on a weekly basis. This is the first one to catch my attention in a long time, not because of the typo, but because it sent me off down memory lane.
When I moved back to the south in 1975, my first job was with the power company. I interviewed with about 10 other companies before the power company, and encountered the kind of racism I would have expected in the 1950's. The power company was trying to improve their numbers around that time, and a manager even told me they could count me in two EEO categories, black and female. "Too bad you're not a disabled Viet Nam vet, too." (No lie.)
I had five years of programmer/analyst experience before that, and I was assigned to a team that maintained an old mainframe system. When I finally went to discuss my dead-end with the section manager, he already had me lined up for a development team using a "new technology." And so began my relationship with Watts Fearrington. We all thought it was funny that a boss in the power company would have the name Watts. Watts was a classic old southern gentleman, with a way of expressing himself that reminded me of Yogi Berra. When he told me about my new assignment, he said I needed to "Jump in head first with both feet."
Several years later, Watts had been promoted, but was still my boss at a higher level. When I needed a manager's recommendation for my application to graduate school, I made my request of Watts. Watts was flattered that I asked him, and sent me a draft of the letter he would send out. He wrote a full-page glowing recommendation, and mentioned the several "new technology" projects I had worked on over the years. And then in describing me he said I was "contentious." I knew he meant "conscientious," but how in the world was I going to get him to correct that without offending him? Fortunately, I had a good rapport with his secretary. And since the letter would be going out on company letterhead, he would have to give it to her to print. I gave her a very discrete call and she took care of it.
Watts retired before I left the power company. The last time I saw his name was in his obituary a few years ago.