June 1, 2015 by vh1161
The first thing I noticed about her was how remorselessly she cut me off, stepping briskly in front of me on the platform and angling herself to be the first one onto the train car.
(I’d been reading a book about sociopaths, so perhaps I unfairly read too little conscience into her behavior.)
What she (Angela) didn’t explain to me was that she had an excruciating blister on her left heel. All day she had been chiding herself for doing it again: forgetting that the price of new pumps is always physical in addition to financial. The first wear never delivers the overall impression we imagined as we stood in front of the mirror at DSW. Breezy, Confident City Woman only manifests after a wincing week of off-kilter hobbling and discrete BandAid changes.
Angela bought these pumps for day one of her new job. She is pulling herself up in the world and wanted shoes to prove it. When she tried on this pair she thought they signaled a woman who is strong, mature, and reliable. Definitely First Day shoes. She hadn’t planned for the blisters, though, and now at the end of the day she can barely hide her agony. But she is on her way meet her parents for dinner, so dressing down by switching into the flip-flops in her purse is not an option.
She learned early in life that the equation for relationship with her parents was simple: if she succeeded at hard things, she was loved. If she broke, she was not. So she made a vow to herself as a child to never not be strong enough. She became the girl who looked for challenges at every turn – Track & field, AP classes, student government. It was almost too much for her and she was mainly operating on fear and caffeine, but she kept going because public success in public challenges earned public parental approval.
She put herself through college and just landed this job as an HR Generalist with a major defense contracting firm. She’s heard that it’s a demanding environment and that it can be difficult to move up the totem pole. But she’ll be fine. She’ll look the part until she knows the part. She always does.