Episode 24: Rules and Mirrors

A study of stuff.

A study of stuff.

Monday, January 5th at 7:23am:

Location: Diane’s jr. one bedroom apartment, Capitol Hill

Scene:  Diane getting ready in her bedroom.

Today was my first day at the new job. From what I noticed during my interview for the most part everyone at the James Consulting wore DC conservative chic. You know the A-line skirt with the V-neck cashmere sweater, hair in a ponytail with Steve Madden leopard print pumps or Tory Burch flats. Some may take it up a notch with a few David Yurman pieces but that puts them more towards the conservative, in my view. Those leaning more towards chic usually opt for statement accessories from one of the local boutiques like Hu Shoes in Georgetown. Of course, there were also the “I don’t care” or the “I am just here to work and be out” folks but it would be too stressful to focus on them right now.  I had been thinking of my first day wear for the last two weeks while also keeping the three first day rules in mind. And right now first and foremost on my mind was rule number one – figure out the office uniform and take it up a notch.

I have never been a mold girl and to be honest, with my short pixie haircut, I would not be rocking a ponytail anyway and I am firmly on the anti-weave brigade. Cindi and I agreed that my choice should be a scoop necked, gray sheath from Zara which hugged the hips but not enough for others to question if my aim was to turn tricks on K Street rather than cut deals.  I was also planning to wear my black patent leather Michael Kors classic open toe pumps and my trusty Swarovski cocktail ring. Yes, it was cold outside but what are cabs for if not to save you when you make a winter shoe faux pas.

I was ready.

Monday, January 5th at 8:55am:

Location: James Consulting, 20th and K Street

Scene:  Reception area on the fourth floor.

“Hey lady, good luck!” Jaz texted me as I exited the cab.

“Thanks Darling!” I typed right before walking into the building. Thankfully, I looked up before smashing into the glass doors. It would not be cool to embarrass myself on the first day. I walked into the office and greeted Anna, the receptionist.  

Which leads me to rule number two – always be nice to the receptionist even if you are no longer interviewing. You don’t want to hang out at her desk gossiping but you most certainly don’t want her slinging dirt about you to others.

“Hi Anna, how are you doing?” pause so she can respond.

“Can you please tell Margaret Vandercraft that I am here?”  According to my schedule Margaret was supposed to give me a tour of the office and then I had nothing to do until my 11am session with the folks at HR.  I sat in one of the brown toile decorated guest armchairs grabbing the daily Washington Post – the Obamas were of course one of the topics covered on the front page.  I can’t believe they are really here in the city. “By the way Anna” I continued, “that shirt is such a great color on you.” I said looking up at her with a lovely smile after she noted that Margaret would be soon on her way.

“Thank you! I’ve been eyeing your shoes since you walked in. They are simply divine.” At that moment Margaret entered the room wearing her navy blue take on the DC conservative chic on her 6’1” frame. Only she wore a clean blonde ponytail with diamond stud earrings and grey 4 inch pumps. She looked beyond chic and did not even have on any statement accessories. Out goes my theory.

“Hi Diane, you look lovely today. How was your commute?” Margaret said formally with a well polished air that surprisingly I could not read.  As we walked down the hall, she turned and gave me a toothless smile, “here is the pantry and across the hall is the main conference room. We have 9am meetings every Tuesday in this room.  Bob likes everyone to be on time.”   

We walked by Bob’s office on our way to mine and he was in so we decided to say hi.  Margaret started, “hi Bob. I’m taking Diane around and I should be able to stop by to talk about the Sturn report in about 30 minutes. By the way, it was great seeing you at the Hudson’s New Year’s Eve party.”

“Yes the party was great. I can’t wait for the next one. I had quite a good talk with your guy Dan.  By the way, Diane welcome aboard. Maggie we’ll talk later.” And with a smile he waived us off.

Well at least his demeanor was a step up from Jerry my last boss.

“Oh by the way I forgot to mention that everyone I work with calls me Maggie. You should too.” Maggie mentioned when we turned the corner.

I knew from her tone that it was not a suggestion but a request. Walking, listening and sizing up Maggie had now pre-occupied my thoughts. After Maggie led me to my office, I asked “are you available for lunch today? It would be nice to meet and talk especially since we will probably be working on some projects together.”

“Hmmm…not sure. If my meeting with Bob does not last too long I’ll see if I can schedule some time with you. Are you sure you want to head outside for lunch? Your toes might get cold.”

And with that she was on her way.

Hmmmm…rule number three was now in effect – get to know the competition and find out how she works the game. I did not think I would have to use this rule after my experience at my previous job but I believe I just found the competition.

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