Some characters from Ashley Phoenix Riley are in this story.
I work for a large corporation in New York City, a promising job I landed seven years earlier after acquiring my MBA. The MBA was essential for getting promotions which should have happened any one of the last three years. Now the corporation is restructuring which is likely to have a new round of lay-offs and downsizing. The interesting part is our company within the larger corporation is actually holding its own and ready to make some more moves in positive directions with assurance of growth. While the chief executives, the board and large stockholders of the Corporation are still looking to cut more fat. It cut all the fat some two years ago except for the CEO and his staff, but they’re not being cut this time either. Their actions slated for two divisions are by my calculations likely to hurt our company instead of helping it.
Two days ago in a meeting I got into a discussion with Lynn; I hadn’t met her before. She’s higher up in the division I work in. It excited me because I shared a number of my ideas and she liked them a whole lot. Today or tomorrow she and I are to meet to discuss them further. Friday, two days from now news is expected on the shifting of jobs for some and more pink slips for others.
My wife Julie came wanting to meet for lunch, and I have plenty flex time coming so it should be no big deal. Our chief executive Marilyn Watts just personally called me as my wife shows up. Over the phone I could tell she's one of these older hags. Today I think her hair must have been wrapped way too tight in some bun.
She’s up on the 21st floor and because of an elevator glitch and repair needs, we need to get off at the nineteenth floor and take the stairs the next two flights. There is still one elevator working up to the 21st floor and above, but needless to say that is only for the executives.
I’m already ten minutes late when our elevator opens at the 19th floor. I’m pulling my pregnant wife behind me. I know it’s not right but she just needs to suck it up and understand what’s important. I’m getting out, pulling my wife, I bump into a woman getting off the Exec elevator and my stuff lands on the floor. I start to explode; what I said would have been worse but I quickly recognized Lynn.
“Sorry Dan, I was just coming down to find someone that might know what was holding you up. I am very interested in meeting with you.”
“Sorry Lynn but I got called by the Mad Hungarian on 21st floor; she told me to drop things and get up here. Not understanding I have things to do as well as getting to lunch. One of my co-workers was crying about her problems, which she was trying to hold me responsible for. Other things went wrong, my wife shows up on time. I felt pressured to rush up here because I’ve unfairly been passed over too times before… Well you don’t want to hear that, I’m sure. I just wish more women were as understanding and easy to talk to as you.
“You said you came down to find me; please tell me you don’t work with that old spinster up there. Though, I could use someone on my side, who realizes us up and coming young guys have good ideas that we don’t usually get credit for.”
“Well yes, I came down as I wanted to ask about some of the problems you had in not getting three promotions and troubles you’ve had now and then. I’m interested in hiring you on, but I saw some red flags that we need to discuss, especially in relating to women, both co-workers and those above you like the one on the 21st floor.”
I told her, “You don’t need to worry about me, like with you the other day. You experienced how reasonable I can be. Well, it was easy visiting with you. You listen and have this ability to clarify ideas without coming across critical or condescending. I like women who don’t use their position like they’re higher up than a guy. I know women like you are higher up but sometimes it aggravates me, the way they rub me the wrong way.”
Julie taps me on the shoulder and I know she’s trying to help me. I really don’t want it to come across that I could really need her help, so I try to ignore her.
Lynn asks, “Dan is this Julie your wife? …Julie it is nice to meet you. Dan spoke well of you when we met. He said you’re a capable professional woman with another company close by.”
Lynn has us come up with her to the 21st floor and take us into the executive offices of our division. Her office manager addresses her, “Marilyn, I see you found him, do you want me to hold all calls for now?”
Lynn responds, “And if you would order three sandwiches, salads and teas to be brought up if you would please.” She turns to my wife, “Julie, I hope you wouldn’t mind meeting with us, but I think your input might be important to save an important position.”
‘Marilyn, Lynn’, I can’t believe, I hadn’t put the two together. I start to apologize, but Lynn holds up one finger encouraging me to wait to speak. “Dan, I’ve checked with a number of people and strangely enough it is your women co-workers and supervisors that go to bat for you. You are correct they have gotten credit for some of your work. But it was because they were putting out some of the fires and damaged relations with some of our customers or suppliers. We can go through at least three situations piece by piece if need be.”
Julie squeezes my hand; I can read her lips, “Be patient, let’s sit and listen.” Julie has given me these instructions often over the past seven years, but I hadn’t usually listened. I’m seated and become quiet sensing I have not fully alienated Ms. Marilyn Watts.
“I want to apologize to you Ms Watts; I know I was rude and I’ve become terribly defensive over the last few years. But I do believe I have very good ideas that are especially important to our division at this time.”
She says, “I thank you for the apology and owning up to your patterns of behavior. Having talked with you the other day and listening to your ideas. I agree you have something to offer the company that I don’t want to lose.” Hearing her speak, I realized she planned to hold me responsible for my shortcomings. Yet she affirms I also have value that she is interested in preserving for the company. I warmly hold my wife Julie’s hands.
Lynn says before we eat, “Our company has used someone in the recent past with good success to overcome problems. It has proven to be helpful not only for the corporation, but the person, him or herself, as well as their family in most every case.”
We eat lunch with Lynn, and she discusses concerns I have for the company to improve what we offer to our clients. The main item is seems to be a possibility of me having an even better job awaiting me the following Monday as an assistant working to Lynn as a floater within our division. “Dan, you need to understand we are at a crucial time for this corporation and your employment with it.”
Lynn had called and scheduled for their consultant from IBRC, Intersection of Business and Relations Consulting, Inc. to meet with me and Julie yet this evening. Julie shares with me that she has already visited a bit with this Bridgette Riley in preparation for our meeting tonight.
I can tell Julie is afraid to tell me something but I encourage her, “Julie, please trust me I understand I’m being asked to do this in an effort to keep or better my job with the company.”
Julie tells me, “A Ms. Riley asked me if I knew if you had been abused when you were a child or had something traumatic as you were growing up? I told her about the pressures your Dad had put you under and how impossible it got at times to please him. I told her you didn’t use that as an excuse, but that I thought it under minded and hurt your creativity. That you put pressure upon yourself as you work hard to make practical applications of everything. That your hard work and abilities more than paid and justified your ideas.”
"Ms. Riley didn’t say what her plans were. But Bridgette asked me, if I would be open and supportive of you even if the ideas seem extraordinary? She wouldn’t elaborate on what she was talking about. She said it could even affect how our Robin might see you for the foreseeable future.”
We have a quick dinner; Julie wants me to do the dishes as she spends time with Robin. I told her I would, but I have no plans in doing so. I’m sure it will not surprise her, nor will she say anything with a guest coming. I’m sure she will quietly do them after this Bridgette Riley leaves.
It is 7:00 o’clock on the dot when the doorbell rings. Ms. Riley seems as personable as she is professional as well as being very attractive. Bridgette says, “One of your supervisors had talked with me about helping you a year before this, saying you had problems both at home and within the workplace relating to people.” I turned to Julie and quickly turned red as I'm upset.
“You need not get angry with her; it was something that you had confided about at work. It seems your wife is a professional worker outside the home but easily does more than twice the amount of work as you after she gets at home.”
“I’m sorry,” I tell her, “but that’s not at all true, yes she does the woman’s work around the house but that comes natural to her. I pay the bills and line up much of the repair work that gets done around the place.”
Bridgette changes the subject and begins talking about me at my work place. She quickly hones in on what should have been one of my crowning achievements to that point. I had sold one of our clients on an idea I had on how we could benefit their company. The idea was in fact profitable for them and solidified our company working with theirs. But I had offended women from their company and to placate them others at our company had to apologize for me and to help implement those ideas.
“Ms Riley, my ideas were good and if they just implemented them and kept people responsible for their responsibilities. It would have all worked out. But no, there were two women who insisted there were relationships we needed to be mindful of. I was sure in doing so my plan would be watered down. So yes, I tried to force my plan forward.”
Ms. Riley asks, “Were your plans watered down? How much more did it take and cost to implement the plans their way?”
I confessed, “From what I have since heard the plan is being implemented with no major changes and the costs actually came in lower than I anticipated.”
Bridgette asked me, “Would you be willing to confess that there were in fact some meaningful changes that improved their operations and proved beneficial to your company as well as to your customer?”
She was right, but I was upset when she inferred I had problems working with women. “Can you think of any reason you would have problems in working with your colleagues,” she asked?
“I suspect you’re going to harp on my father’s influence and my difficulty in putting up with women and their pettiness.” I dug in my heels and said, “There I said it out loud. Now how are you proposing I work through things?”
Bridgette kept her cool, “Are you willing to cast a new image that your father might not approve of? This is not so much about keeping your job as going the distance to make it a meaningful and enjoyable change. One you, your company and I suspect your family can live with as well.”
Bridgette Riley had brought in a few pieces of clothing on hangers when she came, covered by a zipped up clothing bag. She asks Julie to get them and to give them to me to put on. To say I was surprised by the contents puts it mildly.
I ask Bridgette, “Are you the one who worked with my friend Ron two years ago?” I quickly knew confidentiality would stop her from telling me.
I quickly dialed my co-worker Ron. “Hey Ron, I need to ask a big favor; I know you don’t owe me or anything but I need to know. The person who helped you to turn around, would her name happen to be Bridgette Riley or was she with IBRC the consulting group? …She was and you think I should give it a try if it’s offered to me. …but what if the idea seems far flung and a bit bizarre? …I have a hard time saying thanks at this point but it makes it easier in going ahead.”
Finally over the phone it is heard, that Ronnie said, “The only thing you should be sorry about, is if you don’t make use of it.”
I asked, “Do you think I’m that bad?”
Ron says, “If you are bad enough? From what I heard that was never a question. What people will be surprised about if they learn about it; is that the company thought you were worth this effort. …You must have more going for you then I know of,” Ron says.
“Before you go,” Ron asks, “what’s your girl name going to be.”
I had to think a moment before I answered. “My sister was Ruth Elaine Woods so I’m Elaine R. Woods.”
“What do you mean she was,” he asked?
I say, “She has gotten married and changed her name.
“That works,” he said.
I turned back to Ms. Bridgette Riley, “Okay, I’ll try it, but I don’t like the idea of dressing like a woman, you need to know that. I’ll hold you to blame if it doesn’t work out.”
Julie and Bridgette spoke with one voice, “It is your responsibility to make it work for you and your family.” Bridgette continues, “Your new job is there for you. You will be there tomorrow or the next day and you will officially begin next Monday.”
Bridgette looks to my wife Julie, and Julie goes with me to help me change. I couldn't believe it, here I'm changing into women’s clothing in our bedroom and my wife is helping me. My wife hands me a pair of leggings to wear under a cute skirt. Cute that is, if my wife had been wearing them. The panties she had previously given pulled in my tummy and somehow gives me more of a butt.
She smiles as she says, “After your legs are smooth from your shaving them, you might find yourself liking the feelings you have.” I look knowing she had to be joking, but she isn’t laughing.
She helps me with a bra, a pastel blue and she slips in two plastic bags in the cups that feel like it had gelatin in them. Her appreciative smile is still there as she hands me a camisole to slip over my head. Then she hands me a blouse to put on over it, “It’s the style,” she said.
My hair is long like many guys now wear it, so she sets to brush it out into a more feminine style. She cut sweeping bangs across my face. “Bridgette says someone named Cathy would be styling your hair tomorrow.”
“We should not do anything permanent,” I told her. She continued on, “After this I will lightly put on you some make up.”
I don’t know how much time passed other than it is now darker outside as we return to be with Bridgette. Unfortunately Robin is there sitting with Bridgette and she giggles. “Mommy, you made Daddy to look like a pretty woman.” Everyone is glad she isn’t upset. Robin says, “It would be nice Mommy if Daddy would take time with me like you do.”
Bridgette agreed, “That would be nice of your daddy. I hope you don’t mind but your Daddy will be gone a few days.”
Robin looks like she would cry, “If my daddy will be nicer like Mommy, I won’t mind.”
Bridgette looked to me, “I think that will be a good place to start. Why don’t you give your little girl a hug and a kiss? Then we should be going.”
I was surprised as we walk to a car to see a man get out; she introduces me to Julio. She says, “Julio can be trusted to keep confidence and when needed, he will help to escort you to and from work.” When Julio opened the door for me, she asks, “Please sit like a young woman and then bring your legs and feet together around into the car.” I noticed my skirt came above my knees as I sat down and I moved my legs inside of the car.
Bridgette has me scoot over and she sat beside me during the ride to where I would be staying. Though it's only thirty miles it took at hour to get to where we're going. She thanks Julio and told him he could leave, though he stayed there for awhile even after we were into an apartment. Bridgette shows me through a simple four room apartment. “I live next door and upstairs with my family, you will meet them tomorrow.”
Bridgette shows me there were already a robe, nightgown, panties and an outfit for tomorrow; “We guessed at the sizes and what you would look good in. You will need to make do until we do a little shopping.”
Before she left, she says, “I’ll see you in the morning;” as she hands me the apartment key.
I looked her in the eyes and asked, “You trust me not to run?”
She caught herself ready to giggle, “Are you going to run looking like you do? I would caution you about calling for a taxi, they don’t look well on people who don’t have money to pay for their ride.” She paused for a moment, “You are the one who will be responsible for getting better, keeping your job and pleasing your daughter Robin.”
With that she left and I was left to put away the clothes Bridgette has brought with her that I had not use. When I changed out of my clothes to shower, I noticed jars and tubes for taking off makeup and caring for my skin as Julie did every night. I checked the purse and used the phone there to call Julie. I tell her what I have and ask how to use them. She didn’t rub my face in my predicament or laugh. She explained what I needed to do, thanked me for calling and said, “Goodnight, I love you Elaine Hall.”
To be continued…
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