You know those yucky moments when someone makes you feel small and insignificant and they probably don’t even realize they are doing it? I had one of those moments today.
I live in a city that, although quite small, holds the world headquarters of a VERY large brand that also owns a dozen or so more brands that you probably know and love. Well, Big Papa corporation decided they needed a store full of their Kiddo brands so that their employee minions would have a place to use their hard earned cash… er… use their employee discount. That “department store” is where I work. Every day.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful that I have work at all considering that I have been having a discouraging time in my job search. It’s just that…I’m bored. I’m used to having more to do with my brain than arranging clothing by size and handing customers receipts.
Well, part of my job is that I “assist” corporate. I often work with the Director of Retail Stores and the SVP of Advertising, Marketing , and Corporate Communications. What you all see around the US on billboards, commercials, or packages happens right here in town, so sometimes assisting means enacting a planogram, sometimes that means setup for a commercial shoot, and sometimes it means using one of the VP’s label maker to increase organization in various departments.
Today they were prepping models for another shoot. The process is pretty simple: picking out clothes, discussing placement of models, and planning out verbiage… the usual. I was up front at the cash registers when various people from corporate started congregating in the store for a 3:30 meeting. The director was waiting for one exec in particular. When she walked through the door I recognized her immediately. She’s always dressed like she just stepped out of Nordstroms with her pristine makeup and perfectly styled hair. And stilettos.
The group was only a few feet from my register when the lady in question joined the group. I doubt she realized she even did this, but she looked back at me standing there at my register in my ridiculous work-mandated polo and pony-tailed hair… and in the half a second it look her to squint her eyes and give me one those polite grimaces I suddenly felt myself feeling very small.
I know I am not a mind reader, so I don’t know what the corporate people I work with are actually thinking about me. I also know that people aren’t really even looking at me.
And that’s the point.
I am not just a cashier. I also happen to hold multiple degrees. I graduated summa cum laude. I published a 372 page thesis for the business community. I have experience in all sorts of business settings. I have hopes, dreams, and desires for my future. I am every bit as smart and capable as the people in that group. But no matter how many conversations I have with the VPs I work with, or go above and beyond in my part-time job (where they SEE how hard I work), or how many applications and cover letters I submit to corporate…
…I am invisible.
And that lady’s smile today just made me feel even more so.
They were talking profit margins and price points and looking so glamorously smug. And I’m looking dumpy in my work uniform making pennies thinking that any day now I’ll find a place in corporate.
I keep telling myself that if God wanted me at corporate, I would already be there. Plus, I keep getting warnings about structure and work environment. And they’ve been doing a lot of layoffs in the last month.
Maybe rejection is for the best. Still, my pride is a little bruised.
Until next time,