“A first job may be similar to one’s experience with grade school,” Larry Ragan wrote in a private memoir. “It becomes engraved in the memory.”
And since Larry was my first boss—he was the founder of Lawrence Ragan Communications—he is engraved in my memory.
In the hopeful, fearful part of my memory that comes alive in the spring and remembers what it was like to be a young graduate lost in a world that had heretofore gotten along just fine without me—but a world that I needed to take me in.
Little did I know then that my first boss knew as well as anyone what that felt like; he had found his way to meaningful work by traveling through a number of much dirtier, weirder, more anonymous than most of us can imagine today—that mostly lost world of urban manufacturing that so many of Studs Terkel’s subjects spoke about, now sing about, in Working.