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Monday, January 18, 2010

DNL #3 - How to Ride in an Elevator

(This is part of my five part "Date Night Lessons" series dedicated to our first date night in like, a really freaking long time).

For Previous Lessons, Refer to:
DNL#1 - How Much Do You Pay a Babysitter?
DNL#2 - How to Roll When Someone "Comps" You

So we finally made it to Mr. Crocker's party, which was in full swing, but was surprisingly, a little less rowdy than I expected. Don't get me wrong, I know it was Mr. Crocker's 70th and all and I didn't expect anybody to be doing body shots or keg stands or anything like that.

But I DID expect Mr. Crocker to be cutting up a rug, because he loves, loves, loves to dance.

But the dance floor was kind of empty. I will get to THAT in tomorrow's post.

So we walk in and go around hugging and greeting everybody. I was a little tipsy from dinner so I guess I was being a little "Chatty Cathy". Within a few minutes, I run into one of Liz's cousins - Barbara.

Now, Barbara is an amazingly accomplished woman. She is a loving wife and mother and daughter. She is also a very, very respected businesswoman, a former CEO at huge companies that we all know and serves on the Board of Directors for several large companies we all have experience with in some form today.

Basically, like Forbes Magazine "top lists" successful.

And she is really, REALLY nice.

I started chatting with her and given my propensity to babble on when I am tipsy, told her about my own frustrations with working in technology and feeling like I have to claw my way towards middle management, in a sea of very few women and with very few women role models.

As she empathized with me and gave me some sound advice, I found myself blurting out, "Barbara, would you ever be open to mentoring me? I would love to learn from some of what you have seen . . . "

Even as I was saying this, I realized how stupid I sounded. I blamed this on the wine from dinner. Better yet, I will just blame this on Jamie (since nobody knows who the heck she/he is anyway).

I was ready for the rejection and for her to laugh in my face. For her to tell me how she didn't have time for someone at my level, and that she was in another playing field than me. I was already ready to just throw my drink in the air, yell "Fire!" and run out the door and hope she forgot about our conversation.

But you know what she said? It was one of those amazingly wonderful and inspiring things that I plan to hold in my back pocket to pull out on rainy days. The kind of thing that one day, I hope I have enough wisdom to say.

"Kiran, when I was a young businesswoman, and just starting out, there was a woman Executive who worked at my company. One day, I was in an elevator with her and she didn't even LOOK at me. She knew who I was, but it was beneath her, on some level, to even acknowledge me."

At this point, Barbara looked me in the eyes and said, "I vowed to myself then that no matter how successful or even unsuccessful I ever became, that I would never treat another woman like that. That I would always acknowledge her on my elevator."

And then came the clincher:

"I would love to go on an elevator ride with you."

So there you have it. I know that Barbara is an amazing woman and I hope to someday learn more about her experiences - I am sure she has some incredible stories to tell and she broke through the glass ceiling that many women still struggle to fight through with her intelligence, drive and integrity.

But even if I don't get to have that opportunity with her, I will always be grateful for that very gracious and very humble lesson.

Lesson Learned:
I never want to become that other woman on the elevator. No matter how jaded, tired, disenchanted, superior or whatever it is that I may feel at some point in my life - I never want to become that woman.

If I ever do anything that indicates I have broken this vow that I am making today, I invite every one of you friends and readers to send me a big bitch slap over email and remind me what we all need to remember - that everyONE of us deserves respect.

Except maybe Jamie.

And there is always room for each one of you on my elevator. Always. Not that you're all running to catch it. You're probably hanging around in the back being like "Oh, that's ok. I'll just get the next one." Which is cool too.

Thanks for your graciousness, Barbara.


Sarah said...

I love this story! Thank you for sharing. It's something to remember - never becoming that woman on an elevator - despite what happens in your life!
Loving these DNL's!

Erin said...

What a fabulous post and I'd love to be on an elevator with you!

Anna See said...

Awesome story! I love what you shared today. I want to make sure I'm NOT that OTHER woman in the elevator. xo

Karls said...

I'm already here, in the friggin elevator (or lift as we like to call it), waiting for you. Some prick just pressed all the effin buttons, so the ride down is painfully slow... must have been Jamie!

Allyson said...

I kind of had to cringe a little when I read this because I've made this very assuming statements before, usually fueled by wine or rum or both. God bless Barbara for not shaming you into the loo or showering you with condescending comments. And now, you'll never be that woman on the elevator, either. So, that was a great gift she gave you...and even bettah - you remember it! So yay for that, too! And you're going to have to leave Jamie out of this - she comp'd your freaking can't BLAME things on her. She's like your fairy godmother...

Bathwater said...

That is very rude and people that feel they are above greeting or acknowledging others still have a lot to learn in my opinion.

Ams said...

That's a great story - so so important!
People who *think* they are more important than they are, are NOT important. Does that make sense? I said important... A LOT!
Okay. Enough out of me :)

Anonymous said...

Oy. So what does it say to me that I am the bitch who presses the door close button so no one else can get in the elevator with me!?

Shannon Weader said...

Great story Kiran! I have been the ignored person in the elevator and its really annoying.

Amy said...

What an amazing thing to say. Barbara sounds wonderful! And you, love...I would be honored to be on an elevator with you;)

meredith said...

you somehow manage to always write such meaningful posts while making me crack up laughing. you have a gift. this is why i heart you and your blog so much.

and i would totally be on the elevator with you!

meredith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Salt said...

Is it silly that I teared up a little at this? Probably. But this is a great post and what a fantastic lesson you have learned from her. I don't even know Barbara and she's my hero.

I would be that girl on the elevator crammed into the corner with her back to everyone else. At least that's what we used to do when we were in high school and trying to be funny. I have weird friends.

MiMi said...

I love elevator rides. Can I ride in one too?? Wait, nevermind. Back on topic...that is so sweet and she sounds like a very intelligent and compassionate woman. No wonder she's made it to the top.

Lemon Gloria said...

She sounds fantastic. Good for you for asking! And the elevator story is a great one.

Monique-aka-Surferwife23 said...

So. Does John know that you are offering free 'elevator rides' to just anyone on the interwebs?

And you really are the nicest person in the world. Just thought I would throw that out there....

Kathy's Klothesline said...

What a wonderful answer. She definitely has a lot of class! She was no doubt very flattered that you think so much of her, too

Masala Chica said...

This is going to be one awesome elevator ride. I can't wait for you to join me. (no, not in a dirty way monique. you naughty girl).

I've got the champagne. I'll try not to press the "close" button like Nathanael.

Thanks ladies (and nathanael ;-).

kys said...

If that had been me I probably would have puked on her. I tend to drink a wee bit too much when I finally get released from the confines of motherhood.

Shandal said...

What an amazing woman. I loved how she accepted your proposal. :)


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