“So, you are a school teacher! Hmm… well its not about your knowledge, I can’t dispute your expertise in your subject but for the corporate… well! madam, I don’t think you are fit for that. You see we deal with the top, the very top, the senior most in management. Sorry, Good luck!”
“You know it is your simplicity that is getting in the way. You should dress differently. The corporate style! You see our clients are used to seeing our trainers differently”.
“It’s a fitment issue, I am not sure you will be able to make it, sorry”.
” You need to dress differently madam, you really need to, ours is a upmarket set up.”
Well, I was dressed decently enough, I had worn a sari. And since I was going to teach or train, I didn’t think that my dressing should come in my way of growth or employment but it did, many times! Some times the board was kind enough to tell me on my face otherwise the excuses were pretty stale but it was always the prejudice against a school teacher that I found hard to take.
I have always been a proud school teacher and had thought that the ‘respect’ in the Parent Teachers Meet was mine to keep, a well-deserved reward.
I now realize that it is not the lack of money keeps the youth from teaching, it is the lack of respect.
Yet, the founder president of a huge educational institution talked to me as if I were his best friend. I am told that he talks to every one in the same manner. When I quipped, ” Why are you so modest? I almost forget that I am talking to a CEO,” he smiled. ” I have been like this always and don’t intend to change now.”
A colleague who could have ‘simplicity’ as her middle name asked me, “What could I do to make that grand first impression?”
I had no answer to that. Is it the grand brand you wear? Is it the bright hues you sport? Is it a certain cockiness in your manners?
A young girl on an outing said,” At the mall, I was dressed in a Sari and was hanging out with my boy friend, when a certain some one rudely pushed me aside. I was so annoyed. What did she think? Just because I was dressed in a sari! I gave her right back in my convent- English and shut her mouth. She could only gape at me!” . ” After all, I am a toastmaster, I give as good as I get”, she giggled.
My classmate at college, Lilly had once said, “When I go to post office or any other public place, I always speak English. The service is fast and respect I get is great.” And that was in Kerala in 1996!
Recently a lady security guard was unhappy with the way the warden talked to her. She said, ” Swalpa respect bekalva! Should I not get some respect? How dare she scold me in front of the maid? Does she know that I have land that costs more that 3 crores. If I sell it I can employ her. Stupid woman! I come here for this meager for a reason!”
When I first came to Bangalore and went around looking for a house to rent, the cab driver remarked pointing at an old man driving his luna, “Madam, see that man, he gets 2 lakh as rent alone for his apartments, yeh, Bangalore hai madam, you can’t say what a person is worth by just looking at him.”
I am reminded of a certain ‘missile man’ who spoke slow, in simple English, yet had the whole nation fawning over him.
With such role models, what is there to fear and why change now? ” To quote the gentleman” I have always been like this and don’t intend to change now.”