Friday, April 02, 2010
Margaret had to stop dressing like a woodland fairy.
At the beginning of the week, when she arrived at the office wearing a kelly green dress with hemp leaf and tulle trim, her colleagues smiled and asked about the joke. “Joke?” She frowned. “I don't know a single one.” She turned to make the morning's phone calls, leaving the others quite perplexed, though none felt they wanted to be the one to remind her of the company's dress code.
The second day, all conversation ceased when Margaret stepped off the elevator wearing an olive colored skirt overlaid with multiple layers of brown netting as well as a stretchy bustier laced with neon green ribbon in the back. When her boss took her aside for a private discussion, the others could hear Margaret respond with, “It's not as if I wear wings or a headpiece or even carry a wand.”
The rest of the week brought similar fantasy-inspired fashion to the stodgy office décor. Company officials were reluctant to take the definitive step of firing her. After all, she had accrued a little more than ten years of employment with them, and the excellent reviews collected in her personnel file were a testament to her diligence and performance. They also surmised that the recent death of Margaret's husband after many years of illness accounted for her unhinged good sense of propriety.
But on this last day of the work week, the vice president of the company hoped this intervention would bring a satisfactory resolution. Although Margaret declined his offer of extra vacation days with pay, she did apologize for any distress her wardrobe choices engendered, and thanked all for their concern. He sat in the conference room with the rest of the staff watching as Margaret chewed the last bite of bagel and finished a second cup of freshly brewed coffee. She stood and brushed crumbs from the butterfly applique patch on the apple green velour bodice of her dress.
“I did love all the compliments I received at the company costume party several weeks ago. It's not like I think I'm a real fairy,” she said by way of rational explanation. “I guess it was hard to give up that good feeling.”
As part of the agreement to put this episode to rest, Margaret promised to don the extra set of clothing she kept in the hall closet, and went to her private office to change. A few minutes later, she stepped out wearing a navy pinstriped suit and white blouse that ineluctably personified corporate life in the forest of finance, and nodded at her relieved office mates.
“Back to work, shall we?” Margaret said and turned to reenter her office, giving them all a good look at the inky blue and viridian wired wings that spanned the width of her back.