As soon I was legally able to get a job I went for it – I was fifteen. With a one page resume that only really had my name, address and school grades I put my best foot forward to potential employers – who now that I think of it would have loved some cheap labour. I accepted the fact that my limited work experience meant I would start from the bottom. This didn’t worry me because it has always been important for me to be Miss independent, Miss self-sufficient – thats my mantra.
Reality is setting in. I am now days away from finishing up my full time job and morphing into a lady of leisure whilst I await the arrival of our little princess. Being a lady of pleasure is some what scary to me – what will I do with myself? I am not good at relaxing, you know doing nothing. Women around me have been encouraging me to enjoy the nesting time.
At the same time its is also very exciting. I will be temporarily unemployed, going were the wind takes me and my bub. Mixed emotions, I know.
Women who have been in my “swollen feet” state say to me it will be the last time I will enjoy gallivanting, lounging, shopping, sleeping, let along peeing alone – for a little while.
I am writing this post because I wanted to share a recent experience with you. To give some context to the conversation, in Australia when you have a baby you are provided with parental leave pay for roughly about six months. In order to receive the payment you need to go to a government agency to sign up.
Monday morning, I made the decision to be at the government agency bright and early so that I could head to the office straight after. I waited in line so that I could check in ready to see the Customer Service Officer (CSO). This was the first time that I had ever entered such a government agency that is renowned for providing income benefits for individuals who are down and out or going a rough patch. I was greeted by a man who whilst friendly enough appeared slightly odd. Our conversation transcript is shown below
CSO – How can I help you today?
IamTinashe – I am here to register myself for the paid parental leave initiative.
CSO – What is your government registry number?
IamTinashe – I don’t have one…
The CSO looks up from the screen, blinks twice and asks
CSO – Are you sure?
I was a little taken aback but responded with a firm
IamTinashe – Yes
CSO – What is your date of birth, first and last name?
Interested to see where this was going I provide him with my details. He proceeds go input them into the system. In complete shock he looks up and says..
CSO – My gosh! Your over 30 and you have never been on any benefits! Have a seat someone will be right with you.
I didn’t say anything just simply walked away and proceeded to sit down. A lot of thoughts were going through my mind. The main one was – stereotype much? So because I am a African pregnant woman signing up for paid parental leave – surely this can’t be the first time that I had received government benefits.
Its times like this that my race is highlighted or stereotypes apply. I see it, but I refuse to let it bother me. Infact it fuels me. I know what they are probably expecting based on their own prejudices – but I am ready, willing and eager to exceed their expectations.
You know, really blow their minds.
…drops mic walks off the stage.
Dress – ASOS, Shoes – Wittner