I was supposed to work as a receptionist in one of Vera Wang’s boutiques from Wednesday to Saturday. However, after a long wait in the luxurious gray and blue waiting room, my would-be supervisor, Sayeed, explained that there’d been a mix-up; rather than spend hours training a series of short-term hires, they wanted one person willing to work there indefinitely, if not permanently.
“Oh,” I replied, dismayed, “I was told that the job would last through Saturday and that I’d be getting eleven dollars an hour. I’m afraid that’s not enough for me to work here long term.”
Sayeed vanished for several more minutes before finally reappearing and telling me that one of the staff would be the receptionist for the day, and that I should check with the agency for another job. I wished him luck finding someone, he thanked me for coming in, and I left. Then I went back, because it occurred to me that I could use their phone to call Axion, and wound up speaking to Cara, the manager who’d set up the job, in a storeroom filled with garment-bagged bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses. She asked me to come to the agency for a meeting, so I retraced my steps to the 6 train, took the subway to Grand Central, and walked to Axion, which is on 40th and Broadway.
Keep in mind that (1) it was a sunny June day and (2) in keeping with the Vera Wang employee dress code, I was wearing all black.
Once I reached the agency, Cara ushered me into a conference room and in the cheeriest and friendliest manner possible chewed me out for committing a major faux pas. Remember when I told the guy at Vera Wang that eleven bucks an hour wasn’t enough? As far as he was concerned, I might as well have crapped on the rug. According to Cara, the agency was in the process of bargaining for a higher wage on my behalf when I destroyed my chances by mentioning money. Apparently Sayeed immediately called Axion back and told them that I had disqualified myself with my unprofessional behavior.
I’m not upset that I didn’t get the job; even if I had known that more money was on the table, I probably would have turned it down since I’m leaving town for a few days this week to celebrate my father’s retirement from the Coast Guard, and frankly I’m not interested in being a receptionist for more than a little while. What infuriates me is the idea that I acted in an “unprofessional” manner.
Would someone explain to me why the mere mention of the fact that I would like adequate compensation for my services renders me unfit to answer the phone?