Those first few years out in the world of adults were an education in themselves in toughening up generally and learning about interacting with these grown men who seemed to regard me as a woman. Maybe that was the case legally, but I felt as if I had only just left school and wasn’t really ready for adulthood at all. I still don’t think I am ready yet. It also seemed the pace of life made it very difficult to try to figure out what was going on around me, especially when it came to interacting with men. I had become easily embarrassed because of all this male attention that sometimes seemed to be due to my being tall-ish and having long-ish golden hair and an ample bosom, I was having so much success in other areas, but when it came to men – well in those days I realized I was easily flustered.
For a short time, I held an administration support post within the fashion industry. One day I was assigned a task that seemed simple enough: take this list of codes and go and find each of the garments (in the massive “development” store-room that housed them) that they belonged to. When I started though I realized this was going to be a laborious and very-time consuming effort. I was checking hundreds of tiny codes on labels and not matching the codes. It took me a couple of hours just to find about eight garments. I had several pages listing codes, roughly thirty codes on each page.
Now one of the men who worked within the company had become a popular topic of conversation amongst the women in the office. He had been given a big role within the company. He was extremely physically attractive, bronzed skin and many other eye-catching features, wealthy (due to success in business), drove a very flashy car (he was not much older than 30 so he had chosen a very sleek sporty number) and at that time lived in a nice pad in an exclusive area. It had also been mentioned in the media that he was now single again. Can you understand why the women who worked on the same premises began to bring up his name again and again? It all seems so ridiculous looking back and I am sure many of them would see that now. But I was a young woman who had been raised with respect for others, and now hearing this conversation confused me (and sometimes shocked me). Anyway, one of the ways in which I was effected was that whenever I passed him I was more nervous than before. I think it is fair to say that without any real substantial reason, knowing nothing of his true character and qualities, I was over-awed by him because of what others had said about him.
So, that afternoon I was still alone in the “development” store-room and feeling dejected by my lack of progress and overwhelmed at the task ahead. There were rules about this store-room. Although there were a couple of secured doorways, those with a security swipe card were not to use the store-room as a short-cut (which it would have been). You were only to go into that store-room in connection with a work assignment. I heard one of the doors open and then slam shut and I heard loud, quick foot-steps. A moment later I was surprised to find him right in front of me enquiring as to whether I was alright. Of course, that had not been his reason for entering the store-room (he was probably using it as a short-cut) but he had noticed me and came over. I remember now that he really did have a beautiful smile and he was very friendly to me. At the time – I was just so glad to see someone. Although I felt nervous around him, this was overcome by my feelings of desperation at my predicament. So, I told him the task I had been assigned and said that it was taking me “ages”. He took the paper-work from me. For the next few minutes he looked over the codes on the top sheet and pulled out another ten or so garments. He knew his work that well that he could see a code and recalled the garment it referred to. I was pretty hopeless staring at him and thanking him each time he handed me an item that he had matched. Anyway, he worked his way through all of the codes on that top page. I was so grateful I could have hugged him, but because it was him, of course I couldn’t. (By the way, I do prefer to think that he would have helped anyone in my place and it was a wholly unselfish act of kindness on his part to give a young woman his time and help.)
When he had finished, he asked me if there was anything else he could help me with. My words: “I’ve got piles”. Now of course I meant the remaining pages of codes and of course he knew that too, but he could not resist it…He said “sorry I can’t help you with that – it’s going to have to be the doctor love.” At the time, I was mortified. Later I knew he was only teasing and I realized he had just given me fifteen minutes of his time to help me all the while bestowing on me his beautiful smiles and his kindly chatter. (I have often thought that if some of the women in the offices had ever known I had been on my own with him for fifteen minutes in a rather isolated and confined space – well that would have led to a lot more talk perhaps and a given them easy opportunities to tease me frequently.) He…had every right to give me a little tease after showing such kindness didn’t he.
Lessons learned: try not to be over-awed by fellow humans especially when you don’t really know anything substantial about them. When you are over-awed, try to keep your composure and think about the words that come out of your mouth because otherwise you may embarrass yourself yet again. When you do embarrass yourself and someone can’t resist teasing you – often they are truly kindly and don’t say what they say to be cruel, they just love a little laugh. Being able to laugh at your own mistakes is a fantastic asset. Never forget that what really makes a man or a woman is the qualities in their heart which will spill out all the time.