A Sparkling Vintage Life

Love these “office dresses,” but cringe at the violence that a rolling desk chair would inflict on those full skirts.

I had to smile while reading this description from 1962 of a woman employee’s effect on the workplace. Dr. Ashley Montagu wrote that female employees had a “great humanizing and civilizing influence” in “offices, factories and around conference tables.” Dr. Montagu wrote:

“When a woman worker joins an all-male office, a miracle takes place. The men start wearing their jackets at their desks, rough swearing stops, and before you know it snarling males are smiling and saying good morning to one another. Without women, men revert to the jungle.”

O dear, deluded Dr. Montagu! Sadly, this is no longer the case. In too many places “equality” means that women have earned the right to turn the air blue with foul language right alongside the men, a generous compliment is likely to get a gentleman written up by HR, and nobody is raising anybody to any kind of higher standard of civility. Hurray for progress {insert admittedly unladylike sarcasm here}.

Sparklers, take back your workplace! Clean up your language, if it needs cleaning. Introduce simple courtesies like “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry.” Dress with the dignity of your position, not the rattiest thing you can get away with. You don’t have to make a big deal of it to start subtly raising the standards of your workplace. Foment a quiet civility revolution. Set a good example and gradually others might follow. At the very least, your workday will become more tolerable and you’ll return to your Sparkling Vintage home a little less frazzled and a little less despairing of your fellow human beings.