As we live in the era of technology – I had not been to the office and I had not actually met anyone from the WhiteCo during or after the interview process. They just told me (yey, after 4 months of unemployment!) that I was hired, and that I should get to the office on Monday, bringing just my documents and my hardworking self.
I hate being late – and especially on my 1st day. So I left the house early and I got there 1.5 hours early. I saw the building, went around it a few times just to make sure that I was in the right place, checked out all the entrances and the signs, wondered why the name of the company was not on the panel at the entrance to the Finance and Business Center, checked the watch constantly, got mud all over my boots, decided to go to a nearby supermarket and get some water and shoe cleaners, got back to the building, talked to the doorman and then finally I decided to go inside. I figured I could go to the 3rd floor, freshen up in the bathroom and just be 10 minutes early – acceptable and even encouraged.
( there was one occasion when I got to a job interview early, and there was no bathroom, so I had to go right into the conference room and take off my hat and winter coat while my interviewers were watching me – not a good start… for them, as a prospective employer. But about that, in another post)
After going about my business, I was still 25 minutes early. I contemplated the possibility to go and wait at the balcony, but the extrovert in me was not reachable and I felt higly antisocial when I saw that the latter area was populated by those who would most likely be my colleagues… The same urge to just run away appeared when I heard voices in the common room/kitchen, so I went back to the elevators and tried to move to another floor. As 5+ floors had code access, I ended up at the 2nd floor – not knowing, of course, that the 2nd floor was also the WhiteCo. I guess you can run, but you cannot hide.
As I approached the 10 minutes early courtesy time, I dared to go into the common area/kitchen, where there were only 2 voices. I can deal with only 2 voices, I thought, but guess what, only a few minutes in, I managed to call one of the guys a lady. It was the typical small talk walk in trap – he said it was better to be early than to be 15 minutes late, as he always is, and I said that yes, ladies sometimes do that on purpose…. He was amused, but now that I think of it, I have not spoken to him since. Hm.
Still awkward and still with no sign of the extrovert person that I consider myself to be, I said hi, I hope we will work well together to the first 15+ group of people and then I shook the hands and repeated the names of the other 15+ people that i met shortly after the kitchen incident. And when asked, i said no, I did not want to go to the 2nd floor and meet the people there too.
My colleague is nice and positive : his main saying, is that it is always more pleasant to look nice, so i blame him for the fact that i wore a formal dress in an atmosphere where everyone wears whatever they like, including leopard printed slacks and slippers.
His other saying, however, came in very handy – both during that first day, and during the 1st week.
Just don’t get overwhelmed.
1st impressions may be important, but they are certainly not decisive.