When I hear the Dionne Warwick song “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” I am reminded of my early career as a Shipping Supervisor in Tennessee. In my senior year at IU, I was recruited by Frito Lay as the first female Shipping Supervisor in the history of the company. It was exciting and equally intimidating. I relocated by myself from Bloomington to Pulaski, a city with a population of less than 8,000. That in itself was overwhelming, but I had no idea what the future held. My staff consisted of middle-aged male truck drivers and warehouse workers. Believe you me, as a 22-year-old single woman from the northern U.S., it required thick skin. Trying to acclimate to a new city, southern culture, and career was no easy task, and my staff tested me every step of the way.
One of my first mistakes was routing a truck to San Jose, California, instead of San Jose, Texas. It was 1983 and computers were a thing of the future in the logistics field, so routing trucks was done manually. I remember my manager calling me to his office and pointing to a map. He said something to the effect of, “You college grads think you know everything, yet you sent a full truck to the wrong state.” I was horrified but, fortunately, he caught the error early and dispatched the truck correctly. My guys had a great laugh at my expense, but it somehow bonded us and was the beginning of mutual respect and lifelong friendship with my manager. Although devastating at the time, he often reminds me of that day, and I can smile now.