Memoir story

The #3 Thing I’ll Never Do Again — This one is Now Obsolete

It was a pretty excellent job for a 17-year-old and not only for the cold hard cash

Patricia Timmermans
4 min readNov 19, 2022


Photo by Mediamodifier on Unsplash

When I described my summer job from back in the day, to my husband Dale, he said, “Only historians will care, hun.”

I said, “Are you kidding, that’s amazing, thanks, hun!”

And he said, “What I mean is...weren’t you bored to tears?”

But I said, “Of course not, I was part of the process.”

And Dale said, “But you didn’t know that then.”

“In a way I did,” I said, “when they hired me they told me the job would become obsolete, a computer would do it, and I’d get a severance pay when they let me go.”

At age 17, for my summer job, I worked in a large office and shared the space with a computer the size of my living room wall, and I pulled cards, for hours — hundreds of them.

Pulled cards? Yes, it was in the office of a dairy company.

I received orders on little paper slips, from the milkmen (not being sexist here, we didn’t have milk-delivery women at the time).

Each order was from one customer to be delivered to that customer the following day.

Each item on the order had an IBM card (aka a keypunch card) that I pulled from a bin holding thousands of cards.

For example, a gallon of 2% milk had a card, unsalted butter had a card, and so on.

I pulled the cards, kept them sorted according to milkman, stacked them, and brought them to the keypunch operator. Then she’d do what she did with the cards (again, not being sexist, guys weren’t keypunch operators at the time).

When the keypunch operator was done, she’d deliver the cards to be fed into a card reader by someone (woman or man). The cards were read by the computer and the output was a ream of paper spelling out all of the deliveries for the day.

The orders were filled and loaded into trucks by the guys in the refrigerated warehouse (you know it — not many women worked in refrigerated warehouses at the time), and we all called it a day! I did…



Patricia Timmermans

My guide dog and I visit schools to raise awareness for sight loss; the kids’ questions make great stories! Plus, I love books and writing book reviews. 🇨🇦