The most valuable life skill I have ever Iearnt, is to always ALWAYS be nice to the wardrobe lady. I discovered this very early on in my lucrative television career as I dusted off a bolero jacket that had been purchased at an op-shop, while everyone else was wearing jewel-encrusted tailored couture. I should have been nicer to the wardrobe lady and I definitely shouldn’t have always been the first into the green room whenever there was catering.
When I moved into my highly-publicised theater career, I found it very alarming how some of the performers would treat the behind the scenes staff. I mean, we all hear of divas and their sometimes ridiculous demands for slivered almonds and a dressing room full of puppies, but it wasn’t until I was faced with it daily that I truly knew how bad it could be. During one of my contracts, I made a point to thank the wardrobe lady mid show for taking in my electric blue hot pants a bit, as they were no longer baggy around the waist. I wanted to make sure she knew I was thankful and I had plenty of time for her even though I was half a verse away from going on stage. She looked me up and down and said with a concerned yet amused smirk:
I made sure I was extra nice to her from then on, especially on the days we had weigh ins (this is when I also discovered you can get the wardrobe lady to record your weight a few pounds lighter if you present some kind of baked goods on arrival).
But, besides the obvious reason of good manners, I would always be nice to the wardrobe lady because at the end of the day when you have forgotten to pre-set your knickers stage left and you’ve got a quick change she is the only person who is going to run back to the dressing room to help you. Not your partner, not the stage tech, not even your best friend who you’ve told about all the times you have been embarrassingly caught out in public not wearing any knickers. It’s the wardrobe lady who will help you out and make sure your knickers are exactly where they need to be, pre-set or otherwise.
Obviously not every workplace has a wardrobe lady but there will be someone working in your company who will have a role that is similar – a job that is basically people demanding their time and energy, because they see themselves as the priority. At my current workplace the wardrobe lady is replaced with the IT guy.
Now, I have always freely admitted that I am not very good at Excel, and I like to blame my year 8 computer lab teacher for not giving me all the spreadsheet skills that I should have acquired by age 13. But really it’s my own fault for not listening and also for being too stingy to buy the Microsoft software when I bought my MacBook. *If you can go to the Apple Store and leave without being up sold a phone cover, a Kate Spade wireless mouse or an African sponsor child, well done!
So that one time I had been entering data into a spreadsheet for over a week and not saving it, I knew my countless hours of mindless banter with the IT guy would finally come in handy.
The following tips on always being nice to the wardrobe lady were utilised in the process of: ‘Project data entry recovery 2015’:
1 Find out who they are. If you don’t know who the one person that will help you in a work emergency is, the first time you need them, they are not going to help you. You have a small window of time when you start working at a company where it’s OK not to know a person’s name or job title. I would say 4-6 weeks. After this, you’ll have to Google troubleshooting unsaved Excel spreadsheet on your mobile using our own data. Outrageous!
2 Say hello every time you see them. Every single time. I actually don’t think this is a tip, and surely there are others people like me who think this is just a common courtesy. I find there are a lot of idiots who have no idea that by simply greeting someone they are less likely to think you are a self-important narcissist and they probably won’t screw up their face and slump in their chair whenever they hear your name. And don’t ever tell them you are the number one priority, let them make that decision, otherwise you’ll go straight to the bottom of their list.
3 Unprovoked gesture. I’m not suggesting that you go as far as asking them to be in your bridal party or inviting them over for Netflix and chill with you and your cat, but sometimes take their side when they’re having a whinge about something or someone. Or just “accidentally” order another coffee from the good coffee shop with the fancy syringe donuts and gift it to them. Just a simple kind, unprovoked gesture.
Hopefully ensuring that your work environment caters to your unnecessary demands is not the only reason to be nice to those you work with and, like me, often learning the hard way is the preferred option. Otherwise you may also discover that all the mindless banter and being nice to the wardrobe lady was pointless because it turns out with Excel, or any word processing software, if you don’t save it… it just doesn’t save.