Sheila woke up remembering that she had a meeting today and it was one she dreaded. It was a meet and greet type affair where all the employees were to bring their respective spouses to meet the firm’s clients, and Sheila objected to this on a number of grounds, not the least of which was that she was single and so would have to run the gauntlet so to speak by herself.
The office Sheila worked in did investments, taxes and reports for its clients and the bosses felt it was important for the clients to get to know them as family. In this economic climate people tended to look for cheap answers to everything and Sheila’s firm wasn’t like that. They provided quality service and in an effort to differentiate themselves from the many on-line quick answer investors, the boss decided to go for a warm fuzzy approach where the clients felt valued and listened to.
The result of this decision, and it should be noted that Sheila actually liked the firm and its approach toward its clients, was the meet and greet where clients could meet not only the employees but also the employees families so that everyone felt comfortable. This is where Sheila balked.
It is one thing to listen to the client and help them realize their dreams. It is quite another to share her dreams with the clients. Sheila simply wasn’t comfortable with that concept but this was a command performance, so there were no options. And truth be known, it was the bigwigs wives that Sheila was most uncomfortable about. She knew just how much power a wife can wield, and how she can affect her husband’s view of the world. Sheila had lost several good positions in other firms because several insecure wives were uncomfortable having a single woman around their husbands. This was so totally unfair, especially since Sheila is lesbian, but she hadn’t shared that fact as many investment firms she worked for were ultra conservative in most things.
Well, there was nothing for it. Sheila got up and dressed and put on a conservative dark pant suit and headed out the door. Her day went much as it always did. She worked on a lot of taxes since the quarterly reports were due soon, and before she knew it, the work day was over and everyone was heading upstairs to the lounge for the meet and greet. Wives (and a few husbands, but most of the employees were male) had been filtering into the office for the last half hour, and so Sheila arrived in the employee lounge to find the room already crowded.
Sheila had a few clients whom she had grown closer to over the years, learning about their needs, their dreams, and so she gravitated towards them. She stopped first to chat with Nancy, a single retired librarian who was determined to join the Peace Corps. Sheila really admired Nancy and was doing all she could to get Nancy’s portfolio secured so that no matter what, Nancy would have funds to help her through the rest of her life. And then there was Paul, an orphan who had inherited a small portfolio from his grandmother, but now, as he was graduating from high school, he had dreams of becoming a lawyer, heading off to an Ivy League college first and then law school. Sheila was helping on that portfolio as well and it looked as if Paul would succeed. His grades and test scores were excellent and he just needed to have the money for tuition. These were Sheila’s main clients and she treasured working with them.
However, pretty soon Bill’s wife came over and started quizzing her. Bill is one of the firm’s partners and his wife is known for being bossy and domineering. Honestly, Sheila didn’t see how Bill stood it as he is such a gentle man. Anyway, Bill’s wife, Carla, ripped into Sheila for standing in a corner, not mingling with the new clients, not introducing herself. Soon the meet and greet became Sheila’s worst nightmare. How did I get myself into this, she wondered. Can I get out of it?
Fortunately another of the partner’s wives, Betty, heard Carla’s tirade and came over on the pretext of asking Sheila a question. She managed to disengage Sheila from Carla and the two of them headed to the buffet table. Betty is kindness personified, and so after a bit, she suggested that Sheila quietly excuse herself from this social fiasco and if anyone said anything Betty would let them know that Sheila had done her bit but gone home with a bad headache (without saying the name of the headache was Carla!).