By Molly B Cox
Despite the fact that she wears a t-shirt proclaiming, “Girl Scout Gone Bad,” my human co-worker Millie Steele is anything but! Her current title is Donor Relations Specialist, but she has done most everything (except groom horses … but I’m sure I could teach her to do that to my ultimate satisfaction). Millie is retiring in June… (sigh). I will miss her humor (she always reduces me to horse laughs). I asked her to tell us some of the funny things that have happened during her tenure as Girl Scout staff. Here are some of her G-rated memories!
By Millie Steele
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference….
In the beginning, I came to my career in Girl Scouts as a part-time typist. I was paid hourly and called in when needed. I started on my daughter’s first day of school in 1980. I remember it vividly because I had waited anxiously for the freedom of a few hours when your child is finally enrolled at an establishment REQUIRED BY LAW where mothers are given a reprieve on a daily basis. But on that landmark day, I was swept into the arms of Girl Scouts and am still in its embrace. Sometimes it feels like a HUG; sometimes, a MUGGING.
Finding out I had more than typing experience, I was invited into the “mimeo room”…. ”Will you walk into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly… (a poem written by Mary Howitt and published in 1829 about a cunning spider who ensnares a naïve fly through the use of flattery.) “O no, no” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain, for who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.” But like the little fly, I was also snagged. Five years, 9 AM-3 PM, four days a week; I was as regular and reliable as your morning coffee.
In 1985, the shifting of personnel brought me to Program Registrar/Support Staff. I began to be introduced to the front desk (might as well use a gun; it’s quicker) and learning I had more bosses than underwear.
1995 brought another opportunity to grow (in my circle of friends it’s referred to as AFOG….another friggin’ opportunity for growth.) My then-CEO referred to it as “stretching.” I bet in another life she ran the “rack” in a castle dungeon! I was referred to as an Administrative Assistant, and as all staff knows in their own positions, titles don’t mean diddly squat! All of our titles have the last line in the job description: “and all other duties as assigned.”
One day “God,” I mean my CEO, said to “Noah,” I mean, me,
build me an “Ark,” I mean computer system; and “Noah,” I mean, me,
said RIGHT! What’s an “Ark,” I mean computer system?
And this is my background and why I am NOT the resident expert as you have all been led to believe. Everyone must share what they learn, and on the other side, must be willing to learn what is shared. I am, by nature, curious. And that is what you need to be to learn anything; as Albert Einstein said, “Never stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.”
While I was the Administrative Assistant/Computer Expert/Buildings and Grounds Liaison, I had to update all our emergency equipment for the office. One of the updates was the installation of a new emergency phone in the elevator. This was funny because before this was done, I got stuck in the elevator! I was the first to come in one morning and I got in the elevator, pushed the button, and the doors closed. Nothing happened. It didn’t move and the doors wouldn’t open. Knowing no one else was in the building yet, I sat down with my tea and waited. The elevator was right next to the back door where staff enters. I heard the back door open and I said “Hey! I’m stuck in the elevator.” The person said, “What should I do? Who is in charge of calling the elevator company?” I said, “Well, usually I am the one who calls.” I proceeded to tell her where to find the information and call the company to come out. So after that occasion and because it was mandatory by the city, an emergency phone was installed in the elevator. I was in the elevator with the telephone person, and we were programming the phone to call the fire department. Soon we hear sirens, and in come fully dressed firemen. The front desk person says, “Millie, I think they want you.” Oops. I forgot to tell them we would be testing the new elevator phone after programming it to call them. I profusely apologized to them and sent them off with cookies.
Another faux pas I remember, was when computers were fairly new to us, and e-mail was really new. My boss’s name was Marty, and the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA at that time was also named Marty. My boss told me to send out a Mandatory All Staff Meeting notice and I copied her in the e-mail. During lunch, my boss Marty came down to the kitchen and said, “Millie, why did you send a notice to Marty Evans for the mandatory all staff meeting?” Oops! I learned to always look when I enter a name and press enter to accept what the computer brings up. Marty Evans called my Marty and said, “Marty, why am I supposed to attend your all staff meeting?” It’s a good thing they both had a sense of humor!
I retired from the council in 2004 and moved to Virginia to be near my only child. We bought a house that is only 1 ½ miles from the Girl Scout headquarters. I swore I was not going to work there; I needed a totally different job and change of pace. I worked for an animal hospital as their receptionist. I made appointments, called people to remind them of their appointments, filed and pulled records, and kept the operations moving smoothly. During the lunch break, I vacuumed and mopped the hospital, and did the laundry. I enjoyed the animals immensely. I often had patients in the front desk area with me as animals that were boarded or staying with us for other reasons would enjoy their time out of the kennels. We also had a couple of office cats, “Madison and Tobias.” Madison liked to stay in the back where the staff was, but Tobias loved to be at the front desk. He greeted customers, and loved to sleep on the printer. Sometimes, you would forget he was on the printer and send something to print — he didn’t care … but he could jam the machine. Once his hair got pulled into the rollers, and the doctor had to disassemble the printer to get him out! Tobias was the most chilled-out cat I knew. After that, I built a little shelf over the printer and put a comfy pillow on it for him — he loved it.
After five years, I decided I needed to move on from that job, so I put my application in at the Girl Scout office hoping for part-time work. I was so lucky; they had just created a part-time production person job!!!! My favorite place to be — in the production room! I love machines and I love being active and this job provided both for me. After a year, though, the council went through a restructuring phase and the part-time position was eliminated and I was offered the full-time position of Donor Relations Specialist. I worked in that position for four years and decided after 30 years of Girl Scout employment, it was time to retire. I am excited to move on to the next phase of my life, but I will miss the people I have met and I wish them all the very best. As everyone who has been employed by Girl Scouts knows, you never stop being a Girl Scout; you just stop receiving a paycheck! I’ll see you around the campfire!