Global Consciousness Project
Start of May 24 Column

Great Jobs 4: A Dog’s Breakfast of Other Jobs

As mentioned earlier, I did bounce around in my early years as an employee: a job a year or so. I spent a wonderful 18 months in 1975-76 at United Press International, a now-defunct international news service that delivered news by teletype (and eventually computer) to media clients.

I learned a lot at UPI, wrote a lot, and had a lot of fun. Most of my best stories of journalism come from my time at that now-defunct wire service.

Not so many stories from 1977, my year as a Bank of America Public Information Officer (can you tell from the title that my supervisor, Raymond V. Toman, was ex-military?) for Northern California branches and the computer and credit card departments. I had some wonderful experiences, including frequent lunches with the Chronicle’s Peter Greenberg at the rooftop Bankers’ Club in what was then BofA world headquarters, 555 California Street in San Francisco. I also enjoyed a trip to the American Bankers’ Association Technology Conference in New Orleans.

The PR department was on the 20th floor; my view of North Beach was so distracting I had to turn my desk around to face the door. I quit when I fled a failed relationship.

My second-favorite mini-job was my year, 1978, at the daily Oregon Journal, the now-defunct afternoon half of the Newhouse newspaper duopoly in Portland, Ore., my home town.

I loved it partly because I loved the work, partly because literally every day brought either a letter or a phone call from my wife-to-be. And, of course, there is nothing like being paid to read the newspaper every day.

Four years after I left, Newhouse shut it down. All the Journal reporters who wanted a job were moved to the morning paper, the Oregonian. With the exception of the city columnist Doug Baker, most of them went. Donald J. Sterling Jr., the editor (son of a prior editor), managing editor Edward F. O’Meara and city editor Peter Thompson were amazing managers. On the other hand, my friends told me, the Oregonian practiced “management by rubber hose,” a phrase I have never forgotten. I’m glad I missed out on that because I moved back to California to join the woman I married.

In the middle of my tenure at CMP (technology publisher, covered previously) I enjoyed my year at PC Week, surrounded by amazing colleagues, coddled with a “work at home” deal and an amazing expense account, and impressed with the black-tie annual staff dinner in Boston.

After CMP unceremoniously terminated my 20-year stint, I took up teaching 8th grade U.S. History for 11 years. My best story is from the first day, when my principal told me, “Never forget, you are teaching in educational Disneyland.” As Homer Simpson says, “It’s funny because it’s true.” There may be easier teaching jobs than 8th grade history at Moraga Intermediate School, but I’ve never been exposed to them.


Robert E Malchman

I really hope your boss at UPI was nicknamed "Le Pet."

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