Memory Is a Funny Thing

MemoryI was trying to recall the name of a woman I used to work with and I was sure it was Sandra, but I couldn’t remember her last name. So I asked a couple people from my former place of work and none of them could recall a Sandra.

Then a couple days later, it just popped into my head: her name was Jean. Yes, definitely. Last name? I went through the alphabet and when I got to M, Mason jumped right out at me. Jean Mason. That was it.

Jean Mason was the branch secretary when I started working in the Directorate of Clothing & Textiles (C&T) at DPSC on August 4, 1980. She’s the person who asked me what I wanted on my name plate. She was a dedicated and hard working employee and shortly after that she got a job as an item manager at the GS-5 level, the same job and grade that I had. 

Jump ahead a few years and I had managed to work my way up to a GS-11 grade, while Jean was just behind me as a GS-9 (the item manager grades went 5,7,9,11 for some reason). She applied for a GS-11 in the Management Support Office (MSO), a job that she didn’t really want, but she did want the grade for the additional money.

On the other hand, I had gotten tired of item manager work, and wanted something different and the MSO job, which involved a lot of troubleshooting of problems, sounded like something I’d like. I’m not sure why I hadn’t applied for it, but probably I just hadn’t seen the opening.

Anyway, I spoke to Jean, then we both spoke to Col. Lavin, our Branch Chief. We explained that Jean would rather remain an item manager but at the GS-11 level, but I’d be interested in the MSO job that she had just been selected for. Could he talk to the chief of MSO and see if a switch could be made?

Col. Lavin thought it was a great idea, and he made it happen. Jean was absolutely delighted at being able to remain an item manager. (It was a mixed blessing for me, but I’ll write about that some other time.)

I ended up leaving C&T after a couple years, but came back in a different capacity several years later, and Jean was still an item manager. And still happy.

She was a hard worker, and a very thoughtful and kind person. I remember some time probably in 2000, she called me up to thank me for something that I had done for her. It was just a little thing but that’s the way she was.

A few days after that call I overheard a couple co-workers talking. Jean Mason had been in a car crash the night before and been killed.

Such a sudden and sad ending to a lovely woman.

So why did I think her name was Sandra? All I can think of is that back in the 90s I used to deal with a real estate agent named Sandra who bore a very superficial resemblance to Jean in that they both were brunettes. Very strange.

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