Friday, October 26, 2018
Does Mrs. Smith Get the Job?
September 7, 1950
How do you like my new suit? I've been busy sewing a small business wardrobe all summer, but for my first job interview I spent all my birthday money on this oxford-gray flannel suit and the chamois vest and gloves.
Do I look professional to you? A good suit is a must for business and I didn't trust my dressmaking skills enough to tackle a suit, but I've made three blouses I can wear with it and two jersey dresses. I think that will do until the paychecks start coming in.
The twins are in third grade this year and my husband will be home working on his dissertation so it seems like the perfect time for me to find a job.
Here goes, I don't want to be late for my interview.
Keep your fingers crossed for me, please.
The balding man frowned and stood up, holding out his hand, her cue to stand up too.
"Mrs. Smith, I'm sure you were top of your college class when you graduated in 1940, but you have no real job experience since then. I need a girl with leadership skills, someone who commands respect from the girls who will work under her, someone who knows how to train other girls thoroughly. I'm afraid you..." He paused, turned both hands palm up and shrugged.
"Then I am just the woman you are looking for, Mr. Williams." She stood up but looked him straight in the eye as she gathered her handbag and gloves.
"I have been busy raising two children all while managing a house, even when alone while my husband was overseas in the Army. But I've also volunteered at the Red Cross two days a week, taught Sunday School to three-year-olds, mowed the grass so my husband could study for his degree on weekends after being honorably discharged.
"I got up at 4 a.m. to cook breakfast and pack his lunch so he would be on time for the early shift at work before he attended classes in the afternoon. I have led a Girl Scout troop every year since high school when I won the highest award given by the Girl Scouts.
"I do know how to train women under me. There's not a lazy bone in my body and now that my husband is through with classes and is writing his dissertation and my children are well into school, I am ready to pursue my own career." Her shoulders thrown back, she forbade herself to blush, or cry.
"That sounds admirable, Mrs. Smith, it certainly does." He glanced at his watch and said, "But you have young children. They may be in school but who is going to take care of them when they get sick?"
"My husband will this year, Mr. Williams, and after that when he is teaching at the university we'll make other arrangements."
"But I can't be sure of that, can I? How do I know you won't decide that Johnny needs you if he breaks his leg on the playground or if Susie goes to the hospital with appendicitis?"
"Maybe not, Mr. Williams, but then you can't be sure that every woman in your office won't come down with influenza at the same time or that the men employed here won't end up hospitalized with a serious illness. All I know is that I have two children who will need to go to college someday and I plan on seeing to it that they'll be able to."
She decided to go on quickly since Mr. Williams looked at a loss for words. "That unmarried woman you're looking for, with no responsibilities at home? What happens when she falls in love and gets married and her husband is transferred? How can you be sure that I'm not a better risk than she is?"
Mr. Williams shook his head, "You certainly are persistent, Mrs. Smith. I'll give you that and you've given me a new perspective on this, but...."
Okay, dear friends, now YOU get to finish my story. Does Mrs. Smith get the job or not?
How would you end this story?
Mrs. Smith's suit courtesy of Ladies' Home Journal, August 1950.