wait, what? HR… professional… pink thong…
It was my first “real” job. I landed a 9-6, Mon-Sat with benefits… I was stoked! The building I was going to work in housed all of our executives and back office support teams, who worked upstairs. I was going to be meeting a lot of people, and I wanted to make a great impression. Of course this was the perfect reason for a shopping spree. Dress pants, heels, blazers, cardigans, blouses, and sweaters… by the end of it all, I was feeling pretty good.
During the first week of work, I was training/observing with a colleague. Not the most exciting. The good news, there were stools to sit on when not helping customers. This was huge to me, since all of my previous jobs required standing all day.
A few hours into training, my feet began to hurt from standing in the new heels. Yay for stools, I took a seat.
It wasn’t long before the Manager came over and whispered in my ear,
(I remember what she said verbatim)
“I really hate to say this, but I got a phone call from someone upstairs and they can see your pink thong…”
“What, oh my goodness, really?” I asked astonished.
Panic, panic and more panic later… i apologized immensely and made my way to the restroom to get it together.
In the restroom, I immediately checked my undergarments… as if the entire thing could be a lie or some terrible prank. Ashton Kutcher? Please, come out. My eyes burned from pain at the bright pink color. no. It was true. no. why?
I looked at myself in the mirror, and did the only thing I could. I gave myself a little pep talk. Pulling it together, I walked back out there with my head held high.
At the time, a part of me was a bit frustrated that someone was looking down from a second level floor at my undergarments. Isn’t that kind of like sitting under a bleacher and seeing under someone’s dress and complaining about it? I was happy someone told me, but I wished “that person” would have came to me directly.
Now, I look back and laugh.
Thankfully, this didn’t hinder my job or my career. I actually ended up getting promoted, and making my way into Human Resources. I know right, who would have thought? “The pink undergarment girl” working in Human Resources. Life is funny that way. I never did figure out who the keen observer was. During conversations with long-term coworkers, I’d think to myself “was it you?” “do you know my secret?”
I learned a big, not so obvious, lesson that day. People are humans, life happens, mistakes are made. It’s what we learn from those mistakes that makes us better. Everyone has their “pink undergarment” story. Right? (Please, say you do.) I learned it’s important not to write someone off based on a first impression. I try to keep an open mind, be empathetic and compassionate. People may just surprise you, in a good way. Oh, and don’t sit on stools at work. Ever.