Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 16


I was working full-time at Gen Rad Company in Bolton, Massachusetts, primarily for the health insurance they provided. I was paid a decent salary and enjoyed the people I worked with. My boss, Diane, was a very pleasant woman in her late 50’s, but she lacked the vision to bring our production control department into the future. Everything was done by hand. There were no computers. We kept track of the movement of materials in the company by writing and then erasing the information on index cards. It seemed like an enormous waste of time to me.

My commitment to my comic book partner, Jay, was that I’d be available for the five or six big comic book conventions each year. Diane was accommodating enough to allow me to take the occasional Friday off so I could travel to these shows. I’d come back from these shows really exhausted but it was a necessary thing. After I worked there for six months, Diane called me into her office and told me that I was doing a great job. She explained that normally I’d have to be working there for a year before I would get a review and a raise, but she thought I was so good at my job that she’d make an exception. She gave me a 20% raise in pay. I thought about it for a few minutes and thanked her for her kindness but I explained that I made more money in a single weekend at the big comic book conventions than I earned in a whole year at Gen Rad.

I gave her my two weeks notice. I knew that my health insurance policy would cover most of the expenses for the upcoming birth of our child so I wasn’t concerned about that anymore. It’s a good thing we did have this coverage. In August of 1979, my wife Mal smashed head-on into a telephone pole when she was about 6 months pregnant. We rushed to the hospital to be sure that the baby was unharmed. Thankfully both Mal and the baby were okay.

When we were sure that Mal was okay to travel, we went on a business trip to Disney World with Jay Maybruck and one of our best customers. This customer was a serious collector who spent at least $20,000.00 each year on old comic books. We were his favorite comic dealers. We took very good care of him. We rented one of the nice three bedroom condos right on the golf course. The customer enjoyed the attention we gave him and we all had a fun trip. Good customer relations are important.

Our baby wasn’t due until late November so we thought we had plenty of time to fix up one of the bedrooms to be the nursery. Mal’s mother and her sisters, Carol and Madeline, were helping to put up wallpaper in the baby’s room one day when suddenly Mal’s water broke. This was way too early! The baby wasn’t due for almost seven more weeks!

Next chapter: Our baby comes…and stops breathing!

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