Friday, January 29, 2010

The REAL value of a Good Wardrobe

I wasn't quite 30 yet. I had two young children, one of whom was just 3 months old. I was married to the first husband, we'd just bought our first home and I'd just started a new job - Company B. I've mentioned Company A, I've mentioned Company B - there was actually another job in between those two - but I'll figure out how to reference that job if I ever think of anything interesting to say about it.

Back to Company B. Like I said, I wasn't quite 30 yet, I'd been with (crap - already faced with the dilemma) Company R for a few years, but it was a temporary placement with a government agency - part of the epic Savings & Loan bailout of the late 80's/early 90's. Your children or grandchildren will likely read about it one day in their US History books - which is the SOLE reason I ever pursued a placement with Company R to begin with - to be a part of history! Anyway - Back to Company B. Company R was dissolving and we were all going to lose our jobs, so the hunt was on. I found an ad in the newspaper (of all places - do they even make those anymore?) - it seemed a tad over my head and experience level - but I'd always been a master bullshitter and the gubment had put me through these incredibly amazing outplacement classes in which I learned how to delve into my inner skill set and polished my ability to translate that skill set into something desirable and marketable. So I set my mind out to GET THAT JOB!!! I still have the resume I used for that effort - and hell, to this day, I'm impressed with myself when I read it! Obviously, upon receiving my resume, they called and begged me to come in for an interview.

I walked in with my brand-new suit - the navy/forest green suit with a military style jacket - you know - a straight collar type of jacket - I had on my 4" $100 black pumps and I marched right into that interview and kicked its ass. I was good! I knew all the answers. I was intelligent, I was composed, I was mature - I was smooth as buttah! I felt on top of the world after that interview. As I walked out of the interviewer's office, I passed the long wall of offices where the other executives held their post. They were ALL men. They all looked up over their newspapers, magazines or computer screens and watched as I walked by. It seemed intimidating to me - that culture of staunch, conservative men but I made a mental note.

When they called me back for a second interview (which I knew they would), I wore a different suit. A conservative navy suit, with a belted jacket, that when cinched just right would give the illusion that I actually had some curves; and a long straight, fitted skirt, with a slit up the left leg clear up to there. See, I'd catalogued that mental note about those men, sitting in their offices all poised and ready to show off their importance and I, being from the smarter gender, knew exactly how to get them where I wanted them. They hired me on the spot that day. For a long time after that, my mom and I would joke - about that suit - namely the skirt. I mean, I was smart, I had the brains to do the job, I just needed to get those men to realize that. So I played on all my assets that day - wouldn't you?

On the first day I reported to work, I was introduced to my "staff". There I stood, in a room full of women, some of whom had been there since the building was erected, in all my under thirtyness and was introduced as their new boss. Hmmm - the didn't look all too happy. They glared at me. I'd worn "the skirt" again and I knew immediately my game wasn't going to fly with them. After introducing me, my boss turned and walked away, leaving me to the wolves. And as soon the wolves knew for certain he was out of range, they moved in on me. "Where did you work before? Do you have kids? Did you go to college? How many kids do you have? You don't look like you just had a baby 3 months ago. Have you ever worked at a company like Company B before?" They really gave it to me. For the next three days they gave it to me. Testing me every step of the way - taking advantage of my naivety and vulnerability. They, being stronger in numbers than me alone, were quickly overpowering me.

That night, I went home and I cried. I bawled actually. Questioning what I was doing, what had I done? I was in over my head obviously. Perhaps I'd over-embellished that resume. Perhaps I shouldn't have stretched the truth until it was only held by one thread of honesty. And after I bawled and beat myself up and had duly convinced myself I was a complete dumbass and loser, I dried my tears. I stood up, I walked into my room to prepare my clothes for the next day and when the first husband asked me what I was doing, I answered him. "I am getting ready for work tomorrow. I'm going in there and I'm taking charge. This is MY job, I f'n earned it, I deserve it and I can do. I will not let those mean bitches ruin this opportunity."

And so I did. And I did eventually win them over because they figured out that I could either be their greatest ally or their worst nightmare. I didn't take their shit. But I did get them everything they had ever wanted for their department - by wearing the right clothes and getting those fools in the fancy offices along the long wall to eat out of the palm of my hand - all through the power of a well thought-out wardrobe. And they came to know that if I showed up in the "yummy" dress, they were about to get new chairs!

Don't be reading into anything here and thinking that I had clandestine affairs with these foolish men - I would never prostitute myself out for chairs or carpet or decent desks. It wasn't necessary anyway. Think of me as you want - I don't care - But it is when I first learned the power of a smart woman!

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