A very good friend of mine, Gemini Girl, is back at school (online that is) pursuing her degree in business management. One of the classes she has to take for the current semester is business writing, and last month, she had to write an essay based on an article written by Brent Staples called, "Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Ability To Alter Public Space".
When she had finished the first draft, she thought enough of me to ask my opinion on it. I said I would be more than happy to offer my two cents worth, which I did. I offered some light critique and thoughtful suggestions, and I asked her once she had gotten a grade on it, could I post it on my blog.
She said yes, and so my friends, here is the finished product, of which it garnered a solid B.
Since 1998, I have been dressing in jeans and sneakers to work. No one ever said anything about any dress code, so I never changed into business attire. My job as a Payroll Associate does have a pretty right to it, right? You would think I did dress business attire, right? Nope, not at all. Most of my co-workers do dress up, but not me. I was never the girly type, or into clothes as much as my friends growing up. I didn't realize how on my job, people thought I was unable to ever wear proper business attire.
One day, our unit received an invitation to have lunch with the Commissioner the following day. And everyone was so excited about how they were going to dress. Then the excitement stopped and everyone started looking at me. I guess they were starting to wonder if I had proper dress apparel for the luncheon. I received so many offers to take me shopping to find a suit, or offers of someone telling me that they had something for me to wear. I declined by saying, "No thank you, I can find something.", only for them to come back and say, "You sure?"
You see, I do dress up for church, for weddings and most of the time I am dressed up for any night occasion. I never felt the need to dress at work, since I don't interact with many employees or customers on my job. Most of my work is done over the phone or the computer.
People are surprised when they come to my desk and the first thing they say is, "Oh Gemini, I passed you in the hall all the time." Now if I was in business attire, I wonder if they would know it was me on the phone they pass by every day. I had one lady just come out and say, "I thought you worked in the mail room the way you're dressed." Wow, I laughed so hard on the inside but just responded with, "Really?" and walked away. I am used to the stares or people trying to figure out what section I belong to.
So now the luncheon was the next day and the close of a business day for us all. I still never mentioned what I was wearing. I could hear the whispers and the giggles while I was sitting at my desk. Which really didn't shock me, but hey, these people were supposed to be my friends. I laughed with a few friends that knew I wouldn't just walk in with jeans and sneakers, because they had invited me out before and my attire was for the occasion.
Now it's time for the luncheon, and I felt really excited to surprise my co-workers and as my children call them, "haters". It's funny how people say good morning when you're dressed in a suit. I guess they think you're important and don't want to be rude. Even the security guard was caught off, as he asked me for my ID 'cause he acted like he never seen me before. When I showed him my ID, he laughed, then said, "Wow, you look so different when you clean up." What was that suppose to mean? I looked a certain way with jeans and sneakers; I felt I was the same person.
As I got closer to my desk, my co-workers were all coming in one by one. Each walked by my desk just to look and see how I was dressed. Of course I had on my sneakers, as wearing heels all day was not going to happen. But I did have them under my desk.
There were so many different reactions and comments coming my way all day. Some I laughed at and some I didn't even address, because those comments made me angry, and for them to judge me by my choice of clothes was their hang up, not mines.
By the way, I rocked the suit and heels, but right after the luncheon, I removed those clothes and put back on my sneakers and jeans. I wanted to be comfortable for me, not them. I just learned that people really do judge others on their appearance. No matter suit or jeans, the person in them is still the same person.