After thinking about the possibilities of a career in the aerospace industry (and the possibility of higher wages) I decided to go in for an interview. It didn’t take long and I was hired (provisionally). I had to be approved by the FBI for a “Secret” clearance, but I could still begin working as a Bonded Warehouse Clerk while the FBI did their investigating. It sounded interesting…a Secret clearance? What was I going to be doing? Of course, it turned out that due to contract provisions with the government, everyone who worked at STL had to have a Secret clearance, even the guys mowing the lawns.
It turned out that I wasn’t going to be working in that new office complex at all. My place of employment was (Surprise!) a warehouse in Lawndale.
My job began with a tour of this huge warehouse. There were thousands of desks and chairs, all in cartons and stacked twenty feet high. Thousands of brand new IBM Selectrics were stacked high as well. Paper goods were stacked everywhere. File and folders for the hundreds of 2-drawer, 3-drawer, 5 drawer and more filing cabinets that lined the wide aisles of the warehouse.
I was told that I would report for work each day at 7 and spend the first few hours working on the general warehouse staff. Around 9, the government inspector would arrive and I would then work for him; until he left for the day…which might be 2 hours later or 6 hours. It varied. That work was done in the caged “Bonded Area” of the warehouse. It was a chain link sided room that was about 50’x50’ and had warehousing racks that were about twenty feet high. Those racks were filled with large cardboard boxes with cryptic lettering on their sides. And I would soon know what all of those letters meant.
The first full day at work began with my learning how to assemble desks and chairs…and to put little government property tags on them. I soon learned that when STL was successful in obtaining a contract with the government, the purchasing would begin. And the government paid for it all. Did the new contract require additional labor and did that labor need desks, chairs and typewriters? Of course they did! And so the government bought those items for STL. All we had to do was put the government property tag on it to make it all legal and ethical. And when the contract was finished, the government inspector would determine the “value” of the desk, the chair, and the typewriter…and write them off as “excess property…not salvageable”.