By Ashley Lodato

To diffuse the creepiness of Methow Conservancy Executive Director Jason Paulsen’s inexplicably disturbing Easter bunny suit at a board meeting over the weekend, Phil Davis lightened the mood by sharing a story about his first day of professional work, when he was doing an internship with Xerox.

As was required of all Xerox employees, Phil showed up for his first day of work in coat and tie. His boss gave him the first of many important jobs he would execute during his internship — shredding a mountain of paper. As you can imagine, Xerox produces many documents that need shredding, and if you know Phil, well, he was clearly the man for the job. All went swimmingly for the first few minutes, but suddenly demand exceeded supply and Phil found himself slave to the gnashing beast. “It was like Lucille Ball there for a little while,” says Phil, referring to the famous chocolate factory scene (you need to be of a certain age to get it). “The machine was shredding and I was in a maelstrom of paper, feeding in paper as fast as I could.”

Photo courtesy of Ashley Lodato
Jason Paulsen explores his inner bunny.

Alas, at one point Phil leaned too far over the shredder and (you saw this coming) his tie got sucked into the machine. Fortunately for Phil, the machine stopped shredding as soon as it reached the Windsor knot in his tie, and everything was suddenly quiet and still as Phil found himself staring into the shredder’s gears.

His face saved from hanging in ribbons, Phil realized he had a new problem — he was now without a tie and in violation of Xerox’s dress code. He confessed to his boss, who was very sympathetic and told him to take off what remained of his tie and throw it in the trash can and proceed tie-less for the remainder of the day. What Phil did not realize until a few days later — after experiencing numerous Xerox employees showing an unprecedented interest in the new intern — was that his boss took the tie from the trash and circulated it around the office by way of interdepartmental mail (yes kids, in the olden days we used to share information by passing an actual envelope from hand to hand!), introducing the new intern to the staff.

When I heard this story I laughed at Phil, for about four seconds, until I recalled my own first day at a real job. When I was 16, Outward Bound hired me to work logistics, dealing with equipment, packing food, and driving. On my first day, I was given the assignment of driving 90 miles from Newry, Maine, to Portland, Maine, to pick up a vanload of arriving students. All went well during my first time at the wheel of a Ford Econoline 15-passenger van until I reached the airport, where I drove into airport parking on the ground level, forgetting that I had a metal roof rack protruding 24 inches from the top of the roof, thus rendering me too high to clear garage’s entrance. I didn’t fully scrape the rack off the top of the van’s roof, but I definitely did some damage.

Anybody else have any first day on the job horror stories?


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