“You look really nice,” Conder told me.
It was a genuine compliment because for the first time in months I wasn’t wearing jeans to work. I was wearing heels. I was wearing my nice pants that I HAD TO IRON FIRST. I didn’t feel like ironing a shirt, too, so I grabbed a nice, knit, short-sleeve polo and pulled it on. To top off the outfit, I put on my most expensive pair of earrings that sported semi-precious stones, gold and silver. Clearly, my outfit was TOO MUCH for the IT world, but I went to work anyway and Conder therefore complimented me.
I spent much of the regular work day hiding in my cube so that too many people wouldn’t compliment me. Oh wait. No. The real reasons were so that my boss wouldn’t get suspicious that I had a “dentist appointment” and so that people wouldn’t start expecting me to dress nicely for work EVERY DAY.
There’s a reason I work in IT. Casual dress.
I left the office around 5:30 pm and drove downtown for the party. This, my internet friends, was the real reason for my fancy attire.
I was my Mom’s date as my Dad was out of town on business and it turns out, I was SO underdressed. My jewelry didn’t cost TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars, my dress wasn’t purchased just for the event, I wasn’t wearing enough makeup and I had to do my own hair that day. The people around me didn’t drive a Toyota RAV4 like me. I watched the valets jump in the driver seat of a Bentley and an Audi R5 so I chose to park my car on the street a couple of blocks up and walk. It was a nice walk.
Back at the party: hors d’oeuvres were plentiful, the three levels of jewelry were stunning and surprisingly I knew people. Okay, well of course I would know some of them: Marilyn Neilson (look her up as Marilyn Hanold, but be prepared for her pic from Playboy), Jerry Sloan and DeeDee Corradini were B-List celebrities. Turns out, even B-List celebrities wear really expensive jewelry.
I knew, personally, some of the others there whose names you might not be able to find on Wikipedia, but they (or their wives) also wore expensive jewelry. However, they came up and genuinely said hello, how are you? I’m doing great. Thank you for asking. It’s not often that you meet important people who know how to make you, the girl in a white polo shirt, feel important.
After a few hors d’oeuvres and trying on some of the David Yurman jewelry, Mom had to leave, but I hadn’t had a chance to make it out back to the dinner yet so I told her thank you and see you later.
I went and got in line for the salad, cheese and crackers and salmon all by myself.
I’m such a big girl.
But I didn’t want to sit by myself.
So I didn’t.
I went and sat at the table with some of my Dad’s old colleagues. One of them wore a lot of orange: an orange bracelet, an orange tie, orange glasses. It didn’t take me long to realize it was the author of The Carrot Principle, Chester Elton. He dominated the conversation.
But Tim, who I sat next to, despite being an Executive Vice President, asked me a few personal questions and only one answer surprised his wife: how did an English major turn into a software tester?
It’s a secret.
Eventually, I excused myself from the party and walked back up to my car. I like my car, even if it’s not a Bentley. I jumped in and with the sun setting behind me, started the drive home. It was when I looked in the rear view mirror that perspective finally hit me.
I had just been in a party where the least expensive jewelry was still over a thousand dollars, where the people there ate all the chocolate dipped strawberries they desired, and where the women looked chilly in their tiny black dresses. I felt out of place, a little dull.
But there in my rear view mirror was a sight more beautiful than the diamonds I’d just seen. The sun was setting behind one of my favorite buildings in Salt Lake, one that represents our Pioneer heritage and the 40-years of hard work of men and women who would never own tuxedos or little black dresses. It was seeing the Salt Lake Temple disappear behind me as I drove up the hill that reminded me of the abundance in my own life.
The next day, I went to work in jeans.