You walk into a new place, not knowing what you’re getting yourself into. I had no clue what to expect. Was I scared? Terrified I must admit. Did I let it show? I tried as much as possible to put on my strong face. My first day at work was full of surprises and I had no expectations whatsoever, after all, I’m in a new country getting into a completely new atmosphere.
My heels were making quite the sound on the floor when I walked in, and everyone started looking at me. Yes, hello, I’m the new girl, you don’t have to keep staring at me like that, perhaps a smile would help instead.
Girl at the front desk: Hello, can I help you?
Me: Good morning, I’m Luci, it’s ummm…
Girl at the front desk: Oh right, you’re the new girl?
Girl at the front desk: Hi, I’m Marianne, nice to meet you. Follow me.
I did, and she led me to another room full of people. Wow, that company is bigger than I actually thought. Maybe that’s a good thing, but it also means I would need to work twice as hard to get recognized. Everyone in that room was already looking at me. It was like they were trying to capture each and every detail of what I was wearing.
Marianne: Everyone, meet Luci, she’s the new girl joining us. I’m sure Ahmed told you already about her? Luci, Dana is going to show you around and she will be working closely with you.
I looked at Dana with a smile, but instead she didn’t even bother to smile back. Who needs her to be nice anyway. I don’t care. That’s what I told myself, but of course I did care.
Me: Hi Dana, nice to meet you.
Dana: Same here! Give me a few minutes, I’ll finish what I’m currently doing and then I’ll be all yours.
A few minutes turned into half an hour, but I waited just to be polite. After all, the new girl can’t be really picky from day one. Soon enough I’ll start making friends here. I hope. Dana gave me a tour around and introduced me to so many people, I couldn’t even keep up with the amount of names. Different nationalities and different attitudes, but I was determined to find someone I would click with. I finally got my desk after two hours, with my own computer and loads of files to go through, to understand more about the clients.
Dana: Only ask me if you need something urgent. I don’t have lots of time, you know.
Wow, bitch alert! I knew for a fact we won’t be friends. I looked around before starting to work and saw two girls looking at me and giggling. I gave them a weird look and they immediately pretended to be working. Fifth grade attitude I see! GREAT, just great.
Two hours passed by, and I already had a lot on my hands. I was eager to finish everything as soon as possible, to start actually working, hopefully within the next couple of days. The office was quiet and everyone was focused on what they’re doing, which is something I love. Just as I was about to put on my headphones, that silence turned into noise. I looked around and saw Ahmed, my new boss and Giovanni’s friend. Remember when I told you that Giovanni was the one who got me the job interview? Well, Ahmed was super nice to me that day, because as he mentioned, he trusts Giovanni’s recommendation and my CV was good.
Ahmed: Welcome Luci, we’re glad to have you with us.
Me: Thank you, so am I.
Ahmed: Has Dana been helpful?
Me: Yes, very.
Ahmed: I thought she’s going to be the best person to help you understand everything.
Yeah right, she’s giving me quite the attitude. Of course I wasn’t able to say that out loud, but at least I’m allowed to think about it.
He continued saying: “Dana, let’s not treat Luci like a fresh new comer, because she has a strong background in PR. Take her with you today to the meeting with client X. I think her feedback will be helpful.”
Dana looked at him and nodded, but I could see she wasn’t very content about it. I smiled at her, but again she didn’t smile back. Oh well, I’m trying to treat people the way my parents taught me to, even if she’s going to act like this. I’ll try to win them with kindness, if not, they’ll certainly see my other face soon enough. The moment Ahmed left the office, lots of girls started chitchatting and I could hear things like: he’s so hot, I wish he wasn’t already married, his daughter is too cute but his wife isn’t pretty, etc.
I have to admit, he is handsome, but the way these girls talked said a lot about them. I later learned that their names were Rania, Daniela, Yasmine and Mai. There was just one girl sitting next to them who didn’t voice her opinion in such a shallow way, but preferred to keep it to herself instead. Maybe I should approach her after work for some small talk, she seems cool.
Dana: Come on pretty girl, we have to head to the meeting.
Dana: So what’s your background, why does Ahmed say you have great knowledge in PR?
Me: Because I do.
Dana: Oh and and attitude as well?
Me: Attitude? Me? I swear I could say the same thing about you.
Dana: Fair enough. Yes, I have an attitude issue, but it doesn’t mean I hate you. I’m just giving myself time to decide whether I’ll like you or not. See, people around here aren’t the nicest and you being nice, means you’re showing them you might be weak. Trust me on that, I’ve been working around here for quite some time.
Me: I didn’t argue, but trust me I’m nothing like that. I hate the bitchy attitude women sometimes give. Plus I’m new around here, so it’s only fair to give me a chance, don’t you think?
Dana: See, what you said shows weakness and that will let them eat you alive. Don’t say stuff like that.
I looked at her, not being able to determine if she means well or if she’s just being mean, but whatever it was, I didn’t have the time to focus on it now as I have my first meeting I’ve got to focus on. Dana introduced me to the client and they kept on talking for almost half an hour non-stop. Wow, how could someone talk that much. I tried to keep up, stayed quite to focus and observe, plus write my own notes. When it was finally time for Dana to speak, she came up with a cool idea for an activation they had and I’m calling it cool because I remember having the same idea as hers back in Cairo for one of our clients and it went really well.
Client: See Dana, we’re all for new ideas, but the problem is, this idea of yours isn’t as great as it should be. You had a lot of time to prepare for this, but just giving me something like the one you just suggested isn’t enough to get the brand the results we need.
Oh wow, they’re tough. I waited for her to speak up and defend her idea, but she didn’t, she was trying to come up with other ones in order for her to impress them. That’s when I thought I had to say something. I know I’m the new girl and all, but I couldn’t hold onto a piece of information that could be useful.
Me: Excuse me, I just have one thing to add.
Dana gave me a cold look, as if she was pointing an arrow to my forehead. It took me a second to find the words and continue.
Me: I actually think the idea Dana just proposed is great. I’m not just saying that because she’s my team member, but I’m talking out of experience.
I explained to them how we have done it before and the different steps and methods we should be taking not to mention the results we achieved through this activation. I was speaking so fast, partly out of excitement and another part was out of being scared to screw up. I finished up and took a deep breath…
Client: Great, let’s go ahead with Dana’s idea then. You both will be working on it, right?
Dana: Of course we will.
The meeting finished up and I wasn’t sure what her reaction would be. Maybe she’ll make everyone at the office hate me if she thought I was trying to get recognition for her work or maybe she’ll appreciate it. She was hard to read.
The moment we stepped back into our office room, she looked at me and then high-fived me saying: “Maybe we’ll be a great team. I now give you permission to ask me things more often. You know if you’re stuck at work or whatever.”
Finally! She was being nice in her own way. Weird way, but at least she’s doing the effort. It took me two more hours to go through the documents and then it was time to leave. Dana had already left because she had to take another meeting outside of the office.
Rania, Daniela, Yasmine and Mai plus the fifth girl who I didn’t officially meet yet, but liked so far, came towards me.
Rania: A piece of advice, I wouldn’t recommend you work closely with Dana. She’s a back-stabber.
Rania: I’m sure you heard me. I’m just giving you a heads up, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
They smiled at me and left.
Rania: Rita, are you coming?
Rita (the fifth girl): Give me a second, I’ll meet you guys downstairs.
She waited a moment and then smiled saying: “Hi, I’m Rita. Nice to meet you Luci.”
Me: Same here. I was wondering the whole day what your name was.
Rita: The whole day? Hehehe
Me: Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but it crossed my mind.
Rita: I love Egyptians, you have no idea. My mother is Egyptian and my dad is Lebanese, we always go to Cairo in the summer. How are you finding Dubai so far?
Me: I like it, but yet to form a proper opinion.
Rita: I wouldn’t recommend you listen to what Rania says. She’s nice and all, but Dana and her are enemies here. Not so sure why, as I’m kind of a new comer as well. I joined the company five months ago. I was the new girl back then too and they all gave me such a hard time.
Me: And now I’m the new girl and it seems like they’ll try to mess with me.
Rita: Trust me, they will, but at least you have the advantage of knowing. I had no clue. Don’t worry you have an eye on the inside now.
Me: I say, they should bring it on…