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Payback time

This job is payback for the jobs I had in my 20s.

My past bosses would be shocked to see me at my desk before 8 a.m. and staying past 5 most of them.

It's not that I was a slacker, exactly, but work wasn't my top priority in my life in New York City. And I had some fun jobs, doing publicity for a publishing house; escorting travel agents and writers to Germany; troubleshooting computer problems on Wang computers, with their green screens and light green letters.

But still, my friends and I could tell you which midtown bars had free hors d'oeuvres on which weeknights; if invited to somebody's beach house for a weekend, I never missed the 5 o'clock out of Penn Station; and there was at least half an hour every day spent on personal calls. Then there was the Sunday evening that my friend Cyndy and I sat on the porch of a big old hotel drinking strawberry daiquiris out of plastic cups, and watching the last ferry pull away as the fog rolled in.

\Well, you're not getting out of here tonight, Cyndy said. "They'll ground the plane you're reserved on."

In fairness, I was at the airport at 5 the next morning, but my Sunday evening reaction was "fill 'em up, barkeep."

Thank God the people who work for me have better work ethics! And when I get complaining about how much work I have to do, I close my mouth, remembering all the years when I really didn't have that much work to do.

Is this a cycle of life thing? Fear of upcoming college tuitions? A sense of importance that, after years of being an at-home mother, I'm back at a desk again? Devotion to Spotlight Newspapers? Or, finally, maturity?

And I wonder what my past bosses are doing ... I hope they're enjoying retirement somewhere, having an extra daiquiri on Sunday night because they don't have to go to work the next day, and somewhere, somebody else does.

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