Working on the 10th floor means a couple of things. First, it means I have to watch my back when getting off the elevator in the morning since it’s dreadfully easy to step out on the wrong floor. Working on the 10th floor also means waiting for the elevator each afternoon when it’s time to leave.
Today is Friday, casual Friday, and I’m standing at the elevator bank in a t-shirt, black skirt, high-top black Converse and knee socks. Knee socks that are gray and emblazoned with purple and orange argyle and bats. Bats with fangs.
The man standing next to me is eying me top to bottom, looking down his nose in that way that old ladies sometimes do at Kroger. He is looking at me as though he’s sure I’m up to no good, I’m not really authorized to be in this building and I’m probably high.
“You’re a little late for Halloween.”
If I had been on my toes, I’d have pointed out how it’s not Halloween but it IS Friday the 13th, so my socks are technically still apropos. I was not on my toes. I generally not on my toes when people fill me with a cocktail of hate and embarrassment.
Fantasy response: “I’m sorry, I don’t take fashion advice from people wearing pleated pants.”
Actual response: “But they’re whimsical, no?”
What I’m feeling is silly. Working in the MIS department, it’s easy to forget what goes on outside. That people wear suits and have serious, adult meetings about serious, adult things like “accounts” and “clients.” We live in a bubble where everybody pretty much gets along. We don’t have office politics. Or maybe we do and I don’t notice because I have headphones on and I don’t have a beef with anybody. All I know is that this guy I don’t know is making me feel wrong and stupid in a place where I spend almost a third of my life, and that I kind of want to tell him to quit harshing my buzz. It’s casual Friday. Get off me.
I don’t tell him off, of course. Never tell anyone off unless you know who they are and whether they can fire you. I just get in the elevator and play with my phone, ears feeling sort of red and burny. It’s like being in high school, only you can’t put anyone up against a wall and yell at them.
I later told this story to a table of coworkers.
“Who was it?”
“I don’t know. People in pleated pants all look the same to me.”
“You should report him to HR for creating a hostile work environment. Seriously, who DOES that?”
Their reaction was one of offense, like how DARE that guy offer unsolicited fashion advice. Like what business is it of his? Like “please tell us his name, so we can make fun of him AND his Sears pants.”
And this is why I have no office drama with people in my own department.
I still have no idea who the guy in the pleated pants was. He is a faceless mass of Random White Guy In Pleated Khaki Pants. Perhaps I’d remember him better if he’d worn something interesting.
You know, like some argyle socks with bats.
Bats with fangs.