Therese Miller, 5/6/2019

Current Occupation: Human Resources Assistant
Former Occupation: Full-time student, part-time writing tutor
Contact Information: While pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Management, I needed something to make me feel free. I found the freedom I craved in writing, and ever since discovering this freedom I haven't been able to stop writing, especially fiction.

 

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Moving Up

Being 5’2” made Jessa feel invisible.

At her new job with ZoCo, it was like she put on an invisibility cloak when she walked through the door every day. People bumped into her like they expected to walk through her. People on the finance team, her own teammates, didn’t look her in the eye when they talked to her. The work itself was fine, but she needed more than just work. She needed coworkers.

She needed coworkers who weren’t like Nicole.

Nicole was tall, at least 5’8” by Jessa’s guess. She was old enough to be Jessa’s mom, and in fact actually had seven kids, the oldest of whom was only about five years younger than Jessa. Nicole and Jessa’s cubicles were right next to each other, so Jessa got to hear from Nicole all day about how annoying her kids were. The worst part was her 15-year-old daughter. The only girl among six boys. Poor thing. To make things worse for the girl, here’s what Nicole said about her:

“I’d rather have six more boys than have to raise another teenage girl.”

Being short and young-looking, Jessa knew there was no way Nicole didn’t project some of that hatred onto her, even though she was 22 – not a teenager at all. Nonetheless, Jessa tried to be pleasant to all her coworkers, especially Nicole, and when she couldn’t handle her anymore she just put in her headphones and focused on her Excel spreadsheets.

After 7 months of dealing with Nicole’s passive-aggressive comments, Jessa applied for a promotion – from “Business Analyst” to “Senior Business Analyst.” It came with a handful of new responsibilities, a pay raise and, the best part, relocation to a new office. Bill, the supervisor for the other finance team in the office, approached Jessa about it the day after she applied.  

“Hey, did you apply for that Senior Business Analyst position?” he asked, standing over her ever so slightly. Bill may very well have been six feet tall, and he dressed just a little nicer than everyone else around him. He also had a strange habit of looking a little bit over Jessa’s head instead of at her face.

“Yes, I did,” she replied. “I know I’m a little underqualified, but I thought I’d give it a shot. I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try.” She smiled nervously.

“Well,” he said, seemingly fixated on the part in her hair, “I want to let you know this so you won’t be disappointed. We kind of wrote this position for Rick.” He scratched his bald head. “He applied for the position too, and since he’s got 4 more years of experience than you, we’ll probably give him the job. But we do still want to interview you. Does first thing Monday work?”

On Monday, Jessa made sure to get up early, so she wouldn’t be late for work. She tried on five different professional-looking outfits before deciding on one. She even put on high heels. When she entered the building that day, she felt slightly less invisible than usual. People didn’t bump into her on her way to the meeting room where she was interviewed. A couple of her coworkers even said good morning to her.

With every step, she felt her heart speeding up. She didn’t think she would be this nervous. I’ll regret this if I don’t try, Jessa told herself. When she opened the door to the meeting room, two men in suits were waiting for her. One of them was Bill. She didn’t recognize the other one.

They both stood up. The strange man was about as tall as Bill.

“Hey Jessa, it’s good to see you,” said Bill. He reached over the table to shake her hand, then gestured toward the other man. “This is Mark Harrison, the Human Resources Director for this office.”

Mr. Harrison, looking at her shoulder, reached over the table to shake her hand as well. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said.

“Thanks,” said Jessa. “Likewise,” she added.

“Please, have a seat.”

The two men sat down, and Jessa sat in a chair across the table from them. Mr. Harrison started. “So this position requires a minimum of 3-5 years of experience,” he said, looking down at a copy of her resume that he had on the table, “and it says here you’ve only been a Business Analyst for a few months.” He narrowed his eyes, looking up from the resume but still not looking at her face. “So are you even qualified for this position?”

Jessa wasn’t prepared for such a straightforward and downright rude question. “Oh, well, I may not have all the qualifications that were listed on the job description, but… I assure you that I had a great education and I’ve learned a lot over the past few months at ZoCo. I’m also a natural leader –”

“Okay, okay,” Mr. Harrison interrupted. “Next question…”

The rest of the interview went on like that until Jessa was near tears. Jessa left the interview knowing there was no way she got the job. It was one of the few times in her life that she wished she was smaller, because all she wanted to do was hide. After taking a few minutes in the bathroom to calm herself down, she headed back towards her cubicle. As she passed Nicole’s desk, Nicole turned her chair around and stood up so that she was right next to Jessa, towering over her.

“Hey,” said Nicole. “How’d the interview go?”

Jessa didn’t even look up. She stared at her own shoes, the ones she’d worked so hard to pick out. “Bad,” she said.

“Oh, what happened?” There was genuine concern in Nicole’s voice.

Jessa looked up and saw that Nicole was looking her in the eyes.

***

    If you’re not happy with this ending, consider the alternative.

“I assure you that I had a great education and I’ve learned a lot over the past few months at ZoCo,” Jessa told her interviewers. “I’m also a natural leader and feel as though I could make a big difference in the organization as a Senior Business Analyst.”

“Is that so?” said Mr. Harrison. “Tell me more.”

The rest of the interview went on like that and at the end, they offered her the promotion. They asked her to immediately pack up her cubicle, say goodbye to her old finance team, and head to the new office. This new office was state-of-the-art, and it was closer to her apartment, so her commute time was shorter. She got her own office on the top floor, where the finance team for that building was.

Jessa knew now that she would finally get the attention, and hopefully the comradery, that she craved in a workplace. As she went around and introduced herself to her new team of four, however, something started to feel off.   

“Hi, I’m Jessa,” she would say. “I’m the new Senior Business Analyst. What’s your name?”

You’re the new Senior Business Analyst? What happened to Rick?” the teammates responded.

She remembered that the position wasn’t originally written for her. “Well, I was the other candidate,” was her best response. She also realized that all four of them were probably about Nicole’s age, if not maybe a few years older. They all went back to work like Jessa wasn’t even there.

On her way back to her office, people kept bumping into her.

***

    If you were hoping that the second ending would be happier, I’m sorry to say that’s not how this works. The point is, no matter which ending you choose, Jessa either got what she wanted or what she needed. To have both would simply be impossible.

 

One comment on “Therese Miller, 5/6/2019
  1. M. F. McAuliffe says:

    Nice descriptions of being invisible. Short people are often treated like children, or simply literally overlooked.

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