There is a variety of reasons and COVID is probably up there on the top but I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on my past. Moments that I remember. Unclear what I am going to do with these moments except write them down and spend time with them….and share.
When I began post-college work life, I was hired by Macy’s into their training program. After spending three months learning the ins and outs of the organization with 20 other people, we all got “placed” in different stores. The first job was to manage a department. Mine was cosmetics in Kings Plaza, BK.
My knowledge of the corporate world was only what I learned over the past three months. Politics, which is an essential part of the game, was completely foreign to me. This is coming from a kid who had three jobs while going to high school from the time she was 16. I had a car and off I went. The only conversations we had around the dinner table prior to my Dad walking out the door were about politics and the coming of WW3.
All I knew was that I wanted to get ahead and get ahead quickly. I was a bull in a china shop. I adored the people who worked for me. I focused on how to make them better at what they do. Similar to motherhood. Playing nice to the people who I reported to, who I didn’t respect, well that was not something I was very good at.
The people who I directly reported to were two to three years my senior. It was like being at camp and having counselors or counselors in training as your guides. The first person I reported to was a crazy creative with permanently run tights, an uncombed long mop of hair, smudged goth-like make-up who always seemed in a panic. She moved on and out quickly.
The second person I reported to was an extremely uptight rosy cheeks woman with a permanent fake smile etched on her face who pretended to be super smart but didn’t really know what she was doing either although was always carrying a bunch of documents in her arms. There were so many great people at Macys during that time but unfortunately, neither of them were my direct superiors. Keeping in mind I was 21-22 and they were maybe 23-25.
The woman who was my peer, who oversaw the jewelry department next to cosmetics was so smart and totally understood politics. Her father (and mother) were amazing people. Her father had built a company from ground up in the suburbs of Detroit. He was thoughtful, a visionary, and a great mentor to his daughter. She gave me some advice which I did try to follow and thank god for her. She is still one of my closest friends today.
The height of my frustration was when the rosy cheeks pulled me into her office with the head of personnel to tell me that I was too aggressive and that I would be better suited in a different industry. I asked them what industry outside of retail, would they suggest?
I remember thinking, you must be kidding me. I loved what I was doing, my numbers were incredible and the store manager loved me. I felt like I was being pulled into a coup but two people who were probably annoyed at me for being so dismissive to them. At that point of my life I probably intimidated them. Not a good look on my part. Granted, I shouldn’t have behaved like that but I honestly didn’t know any better after watching my father dismiss anyone and everyone even a waiter who would serve us in a restaurant. I was so shellshocked by this meeting that I did what any other aggressive person would do who had their eye on moving up the ladder quickly, I went to the big boss.
I didn’t tattle, I played politics. The store manager was a woman who was an incredible role model. She was tough, she was smart, she thought big and she took no prisoners. She went on to have an incredible career who commands respect the minute she walks in the room. I adored her.
I walked into her office and told her I was confused. She said keep doing what you are doing. You are great. It was the first time I began to understand the working world. It only took me a few more years to realize I really wasn’t employable. I am quite sure I am not any different now only older, wiser and a bit more mellow.