Dressing like a business woman
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I noticed today how completely out of context I am. I think that most people picture a real business woman as someone with a black suit or skirt, high heels, straight hair and trendy glasses. Most of the people I meet at hotels usually look very business-like. The men are handsome in their suits with a briefcase or a lab top in their hands, while talking with someone on their cell phone.
I'm nothing like that. Some of it has to do with me being a journalist, I think. I prefer my jeans, a t-shirt and a pair of sneakers or sandals on my feet. Sometimes I'm too tired to wear make up, and because I sit in front of a computer a lot and have so much hair, I often wear it in a boring ponytail. When I walk into the restaurant at my five star hotel to have breakfast, people are staring at me. I make sure to keep the breakfast ticket visible, so people will know that I DO belong here. Sometimes I have my lab top with me, but I still look like a college student, who snuck in a place she doesn't fit in. I can really see everyone looking at me trying to figure out, what the hell I am and what I could be doing here. Parma is not a tourist place, so they must assume that I'm in some kind of business relation.
I do think that my appearance work for me. I meet all kinds of people in all kinds of positions, and I want them to like me and open up to me in a short period of time. Otherwise, it'll never work being a journalist. So I will keep wearing my earthbound hippie-like style and have people staring at me like I'm an alien.
I want to talk a bit about business trips. I work for a big international company and part of my job is to help our sister companies all over the world; particularly when they need help with writing for their web sites. I've been working in this job for about 9 months and it takes me traveling on long or short trips in average once every other month.
People often say to me: whau, you're so lucky to be traveling with work. Well, I couldn't agree less. At least if it's in the perspective of understanding business trips as holidays. When I travel with work, I usually get a nice room in a five star hotel. They have all sorts of facilities that I have absolutely no time to use. In the morning I'm picked up by the people I'm going to work for, who take me to the factory, where I will be placed in an office (if I'm lucky- otherwise a meeting room). Then I spend the whole day working until I'm finally drove back to the hotel in the early evening. I get to spend one hour or so at the room. I'm probably wasted, but it's too short to sleep, I'm too tired to work out or take a walk around time. Then I'm picked up again around 8 PM to go out to dinner with some very nice people that I hardly know. I will be back in the hotel room a couple of hours later, too tired to read and too confused with impressions to sleep.
Traveling like this is lonely, because you are either alone in a hotel room, at the office or feeling lonely around people you hardly know, but have to spend a lot of energy being nice and polite to. You cannot decide when is a good time for you to go, because it's up to your bosses and the people you do the job for. And when you get back to work, you have neglected all of the daily tasks that you had no time for, while on the road.
Ok, this sounds like I'm complaining. I don't mean to. What I like about business trips is that you get to meet a lot of new people, see the other companies of your group and get away from the daily routines. I love my job, and I love the opportunites it creates for me. My point in this blog is just not to confuse business trips with holidays and expect to see a lot of the place you're at. I'm sitting in a hotel room in Italy, where I have been since Monday, and I have not yet seen any part of the city except through a car window on the way to work.
We're going out for dinner again in an hour. This time in the centre of Parma. I'll try to take some pictures to prove that I was actually here:-)