Saturday, July 20, 2013

I Love Detroit and am Saddened by their Looming Bankruptcy

Detroit has gone bankrupt. I have always Loved Detroit. I have known it as such a vital city, a city that helped me grow up and understand the world.

I was born in Michigan.

Back in 1978, I worked in Detroit. I began my career in Lansing. I had worked hard and was promoted to a Manager position. All I had to do (besides my exceptional work performance) to become a permanent managers was to relocate to Detroit. I accepted. I was single. I was "That Girl."

Detroit was so different than Lansing. Lansing was the Capital, but it was still a small town, like Mayberry. Detroit was the "Big Time." I was a naive, little manager. I accepted. I said, "Yes. I'll be a manager in your downtown office." I worked for AT&T. I could do anything. Afterall, I was "That Girl!"

I was in for a rude awakening. When I was relocated to Detroit, I wasn't in downtown Kansas anymore. I was a little girl in the Big City.

Downtown Detroit was alive! It wasn't Lansing.
Downtown Detroit LIVED and BREATHED much like Downtown New York or Chicago. (where I later worked.)
I worked downtown on 1365 Cass Avenue.
My company relocated me. They paid for my stay at the grand Hotel Pontchartrain. (And the Renaissance Center, and the Michigan Inn.) There I was, this poor little migrant worker, little Mexican-American girl. I studied hard. I worked hard. I was promoted. Then relocated to the Big Time! I was a baby, being born to the "Big Time."
When going to dinner at the Hotel, I didn't even know which spoon to use or that the small bowl with a small towel was meant to wash your fingers before dinner.

I walked into my first day on my new job a Virgin. I was Opie. My small home-town office, with home town people, serviced other small town people. All so polite. All so naïve. Now, as a novice manager in my early 20s, I had NO IDEA what I was getting into.

I learned quickly. I had to. It was Baptism by Fire!
People spoke differently in DE-Troit. Operators spoke differently in DE-Troit. Customer Service and Sales were TOTALLY different in DE-Troit!! I learned this quickly.

No one kissed ANYONE's Ass in DE-Troit. People told it like it was. Service was saying What It Was. Business People wanted what they wanted now. Now! NOW!!! And our Operator's provided Sales, Service and Gave It Right Back to Them.

I had NO IDEA what I was getting in to at all. But I quickly learned.

I changed when I was in DE-Troit.
I grew up.

I quickly learned how to Adapt. How to survive from Day to Day. How to THRIVE in this Charged environment. How to Succeed. How to Win!

I quickly learned the City of DE-Troit was ALIVE! It Breathed. It's Chest heaved Up and Down!

The city had grown with the Auto Industry. It evolved through the 60s riots. It re-vitalized itself and re-invigorated it's downtown through Urban Renewal by the time I got there in the late seventies.

I was a Virgin when I went to DE-Troit. I don't mean that physically. I mean that from a business perspective. When I was a Manager in DE-Troit, I had to learn a whole new style. I had to learn an entirely new perspective. What I thought was rude wasn't rude. What I thought was business wasn't business. I grew up in la-la America. Sweet. Docile. Naïve.

In DE-Troit, however, this was the REAL America. People Argued. People Fought. People Differed in Opinion. People were Rich. People were Poor. Some people had power. Some people had none. We in Sales and Service treated Everyone the Same but we didn't take Guff from Anyone. But, we did need to know our Facts. We did need to stand up for ourselves. No more cow-towing or kissing anyone's Ass.

Where My Dad taught me so much discipline about completing my Education, maintaining a Hard Work ethic and a realistic view of being a Minority in America, what he Didn't Teach Me was the day to day reality of how to succeed in Business in America. Working in DE-Troit taught me this.

As I said, DE-Troit was ALIVE! Everything -- EVERYTHING happened in DE-Troit. Even going to lunch was an adventure. A few of us Managers went out to lunch every day. There was a little deli across the street with the best Hamburgers in the world. There were several downtown restaurants. And some of them in Windsor, which was just across the Bridge. Sometimes, we all went to Tiger Stadium together. We were all beautiful, young girls. We sat close to the dugout. The players always sought us out as we pleaded for their autographs.  I remember the famous 3rd baseman Aurelio Rodriguez, who NEVER signed autographs for anyone, signed my book. My girlfriends who frequented the park were in awe. He was so nice and polite to me. However, when I showed my future husband his autograph, somehow my autograph disappeared.

I found a wonderful apartment on 8 mile. Every other weekend, I drove back to Lansing to visit my boyfriend (future husband).

While I was in DE-Troit, my boyfriend decided that he couldn't stand me being so far away from him, so he asked me to marry him. I accepted. I was able to get a transfer back to Lansing, and we married the following August.

I always think fondly of Detroit.

I'm going to write more about Detroit because I have so many fond memories of the city.
I've been studying the impacts of the so-called bankruptcy and the plans being put in place by the Republican Governor. I think he is wrong. I will explain why in my next blog about this topic.

1 comment:

Brent C. Kryda said...

Thanks, Dee. It's nice to see some love for a city that the rest of the world looks at as a fascinating news item akin to a circus act to jeer at. Of interest to you is the fact that Detroit has one of the oldest Mexican-American communities in the country outside of the border states. Detroit remains one of the key points of entry to Canada for Pan- North American trade by rail and truck. As a Canadian-American living in the area, I am very concerned with the road the city seems to be set on and will as such look forward to your next post.

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