You may not know it but Denver, Colorado has a large Irish population. At least on St. Patrick’s Day. We have the second largest parade in the country. Second only to New York City. Everyone wears green or ‘Kiss me I’m Irish’ buttons, hats or T-shirts. All the bars, taverns and restaurants serve green beer and corned beef and cabbage.
In my younger years, I call them my wild years, before my husband and I got together, I celebrated at a bar named Clancy’s. I didn’t start celebrating the holiday until I started working for the assessor’s office. My boss loved St. Patrick’s Day and always gave his appraisers the day off to go to Clancy’s. I was the first female appraiser in the county’s history so I went, too. I’d be damned if the men did anything that I didn’t. I was determined to prove myself to be ‘one of the guys’.
My mistake this particular St. Patrick’s Day was in wearing all black except for a green leaf in my hair. Now in a dark bar, in my dark hair, a dark green leaf doesn’t really show up much. I got pinched a lot. I’m surprised I didn’t have bruises. I did, however, notice that the men who weren’t wearing green didn’t get pinched. And I seemed to be the target of serial pinchers. I caught a couple of the guys pinching me more than once after they knew I was wearing green. I think they were getting back at me for entering what had previously been an all boys club.
It wasn’t easy being the only woman in an all male profession. To say all eyes were on me is not an exaggeration. Men and women watched me. Both having a stake in whether I succeeded. Both sides having persons for and against me. Now you’re probably asking why this has anything to do with St. Patrick’s Day. Well this was the first time I was interacting with many of my co-workers on a non-working basis. This is where I either made it into the club or not. How I behaved that day would determine the rest of my career in that office. I had to be able to be “one of the boys” if I was to succeed. It wasn’t about drinking beer or eating corned beef. It was about camaraderie. It was about trust. Could they trust me to be one of them. To be in the trenches with them. To have their backs if needed.
I guess I had what it took. I was invited to join them in other after hours activities and I later became the first female appraisal department head and later then, the first female Chief Deputy Assessor. None of which would have been possible without passing the test on that first St. Patrick’s Day.
I will be giving away to one lucky commenter the paperback volume of my Centauri Series, which contains all three books, Centauri Dawn, Centauri Twilight and Centauri Midnight. The paperback will be mailed to anyone in the US. If the winner is outside the US, I will give them ebook copies of the three books.