It was her Momma’s choice, actually; the dress was. They were out, shopping, which they enjoyed together and Alma, Jane’s Mom, insisted on looking at some dresses for Jane.
Jane Dietrich, 32 at the time, lived with her Momma, Alma, in the large home that had always been theirs. Since the unfortunate death of her Poppa, Wayne, it was just Jane and her Momma.
“Look at this one,” Alma said, holding up a kind of dress of soft material in a basic blue color with some small figures woven through it.
“Oh, Momma,” Jane said, “I don’t think that I can carry that off.”
“It’s lovely, and so are you,” Alma said. “Try it on.”
As she showed her Mom, Jane said: “I just don’t know, Momma.”
It was a bit clingy; though not too much. Her Mom kept insisting that she looked wonderful.
But as it turned out but, with Alma’s encouragement, Jane bought the dress, though she was a bit nervous about how she looked in it
“It’s gorgeous, love,” Alma asserted. She was relying on her Momma’s opinion about the dress.
WEARING THE DRESS AND CONSEQUENCES The next work day, she wore the dress. It led to a number of consequences.
Early that morning, as she was getting a cup of coffee, she ran into John Gibbon, the CEO and owner of the company. He gave her a huge smile.
“Jane,” he said, beaming, “You look fabulous today! Love the dress.!”
She grinned at him and said a soft: “Thank you, Mr Gibbon.”
“You know better than that,” he chided, with good humor.
“John,” she corrected.
(John Gibbon had inherited the company from his parents. They, especially his Dad, had raised him to understand the business and what it needed. He did exceedingly well with it, and had, on his own, expanded the business in a number of ways and locations. He was currently a very active 46 year old, and, truth to tell, was simply smitten by Jane Dietrich. He especially liked the way she looked in the blue dress. It simply made him smile.) Jane went away smiling to herself, and privately thanking her Momma for insisting that she buy and wear the dress. She certainly liked John Gibbon and, she realized, really liked the attention that she received from him.
It was lunch time and Jane was in the company cafeteria, carrying her tray. There was a table of men and she was passing. One of them Terry Sargent, or ‘Sarge’ to his friends, liked to be outrageous in front of his friends.
“Hey, Dietrich,” he said, and Jane looked his way and smiled. “Dress makes your ass look fat.”
His friends chuckled and Jane got tears in her eyes immediately.
“I will not let him see me cry; I will not let him see me cry; I will not let that shit see me cry,” she repeated to herself and went on, as though ignoring what he’d said, though still hearing their sniggering.
There was a planned special staff meeting that afternoon. Everyone knew that the position of manager would be filled at that meeting. ‘Sarge’ was swaggering. The position was his and he knew it.
They settled into the staff room, around a table and John Gibbon took over.
“What I’m going to do I normally would do privately but since this occurred publicly, then I will deal with it in the same way.”
Around the table, all were attendant, waiting for whatever it was that John had to say. They simply thought that it referred to the new staff manager position.
Then John Gibbon shocked them: “I was in the cafeteria earlier,” he began, “And heard your comment, Mr Sargent.”
All faces turned toward ‘Sarge’, who now was a bit pale. Jane Dietrich simply stared ahead.
“I am trying to mold a company that works as a team,” John Gibbon went on. “And will not, I repeat, will not let such comments as you made about Ms. Dietrich while at work, go unmentioned.”
The silence in the room was deafening now. Jane especially held her breath.
“I will warn only once, Mr Sargent,” he said, “And any next occurrence will result in my not only firing you but I will black ball you throughout the industry. Am I clear?”
“Yes, sir,” ‘Sarge’ said.
“Since you made your lewd comment so publicly,” he continued, “I will expect your apology to be public also. In addition, I am putting you on a 60 day trial period. If within that time, you show that you can work as a team member here, fine. If not, you’re gone.”
He looked around then, and no one could meet his steel like gaze directly.
“Finally,” he said, “I want to the announce the new staff manager, who is Ms Jane Dietrich.”
There was a common and shared intake of breath. Jane’s hand went to her heart, upon hearing what Mr. Gibbon had just said.
“That’s all from me. Jane, would you please come to my office, so that we can talk?”
He looked around: “Questions?”
They all said ‘no’ but John Gibbon didn’t move. They knew quickly what he was waiting for.
‘Sarge’ got up and did make a public, sincere sounding apology to Jane for what he’d said about how she looked in the dress. The meeting broke up then.
She went to his office, knocking softly on the door. He greeted her with a broad smile.
“Mr Gibbon,” she began and saw how he was looking at her and remembered. “Um, John,” she went on. “I don’t quite know what to say.”
“Jane,” he began, “That incident is behind us now. I will only allow myself one comment and then put it to rest. You look spectacularly lovely in that dress.”
Her hand went to her mouth and she giggled into her hand.
“Thank you, John,” she said.
“Now let’s sit and we’ll go over the nitty gritty here,” he said.
He proceeded to show her the package of salary and benefits that would be hers with the new position. It gave her fully at $12,000 raise immediately. She was temporarily speechless about it.
“You will have a free hand to deal with your staff,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said. “I will want to be in touch with you about any staff decisions too.”
“Yes, fine,” he answered. “I don’t think you’ll need to worry about ‘Sarge’, unless you think that you simply want to get rid of him.”
“He does such good work,” she said, “When he’s not trying to impress his leering friends.”
“That’s one of the reasons why I want you in this position,” John said, “Your common sense attitude for the job is great.”
“Thank you, John,” she said.
They worked then for another hour to set goals for her part of the company, after which he showed her to ‘her’ new office, and secretary, Millie.
John took her to the part of the building where her office was, and told Millie that she, Jane, would be the new section supervisor; then he left.
“I was hoping it would be you,” Millie said. “Congratulations!”
“Seems almost like a dream,” Jane answered, going to Mille to exchange a hug.
“Good dreams are always welcome,” Millie answered and they both agreed.
MOMMA: Alma was waiting for Jane that day. She went into the house from the garage and was smiling.
“So, love,” Alma said, “The dress was okay?”
“Oh, Momma,” Jane said, “I have to tell you about it.”
They sat out on the house deck and talked, with Alma now and then interjecting a comment about the events that Jane was describing.
Jane began with what John Gibbon had said about the way that she looked at the beginning of the day. Alma beamed. Then she talked about ‘Sarge’s’ comment.
“Oh, dear!” Alma said.
“Momma, I told myself and told myself that I wasn’t going to cry for that shit!”
“Good for you, love,” Alma said.
But her Momma was simply clapping her hands, once Jane told her about the meeting and her having been promoted to the supervisor job.
“I was so sure that ‘Sarge’ was going to get the job,” she said.
“Oh, dear,” Alma said, “You’re perfect for it; just perfect.”
Then Jane told Alma about the new salary package that came with the new job. It left Alma simply celebrating.
“So, Momma,” Jane said. “How about if I take us out to dinner?”
“Good for us!” Alma said, and they hugged.
While they were hugging, Jane whispered into Alma’s ear: “Momma, it’s you and me for ever; I’ll never not take care of you.”
“I know, my love,” Alma said, “It the way that we are. I’m sorry your sainted Poppa isn’t here to celebrate.” (Ray, Alma’s husband had died of a heart attack nine months earlier.)
“So am I, Momma,” Jane said and they shared another hug.
THE DRESS AND ANOTHER DEVELOPMENT: At the end of that week, Jane, in a great mood, wore the dress again. She stood in front of the mirror and looked at herself from all sides.
“Not bad, Janie!” she said to herself, actually liking the way that the dress clung to her.
“Nice bootie!” she said.
“What?” came her Momma’s voice and Jane giggled, telling Alma what she’d been saying to herself.
“Well, you’re certainly truthful about that,” Alma said. “You’re my beauty!”
“Thank you, Momma,” Jane said. “Thought I’d close this special week by wearing the dress one more time.”
“Good for you,” Alma said.
“Well, don’t you look snazzy, Boss,” Millie said, when she saw Jane come into the office that morning.
Jane smiled at her and thanked her.
“What do we have going?” Jane asked.
.... There is more of this story ...