I’m from Jersey. Born and raised. I cuss a lot. I talk loud and fast; my hands are always waving. And I know “The Mob” is real … I’m also from the hood. My hometown of Irvington is a rough one. Most are afraid to drive or walk down the street there. I’m not. Never have been. Never will be.
But I’ve lived in the South for over 10 years now. First in Virginia and now in North Carolina. Much of my Jersey accent has been replaced with a slow drawl where the O’s are way too long and the I’s sound like “Ah” … My house is in the suburbs. The only thing scary on these streets is my neighbors’ mini-pinscher because their invisible fence goes all the way to the street instead of stopping at the sidewalk like everyone else. Ryder has scared and scarred many the unsuspecting biker, skater and jogger on our block with his barking and nipping.
That’s so gangsta!
The clash of these very different social cultures generally leave me feeling without a true HR Home. I am an anomaly and a bit of a spectacle almost everywhere I go. My natural inclinations and approach to dealing with things constantly have to be checked and tempered to my current environment. Because in the South, ladies don’t cuss or talk too loud or too fast – and the only time their hands wave is when their nails are wet. So I’m never quite 100% myself and I don’t ever allow myself to get too comfortable.
The discomfort makes me a better HR person. Because I am hyper-aware of my actions and reactions, the crazy things that happen don’t catch me slippin. Where others get visibly frustrated or shocked, I just give a blank stare. Where others dwell in conflict out of fear of being impolite, I cut to the chase and call bull$%&# when necessary. With a smile and an appropriate “bless your heart” or “thank you so much,” of course.
But in my mind, I am either flipping the table or the bird. Sometimes both.
Not really having a true HR Home means I am able to come to each issue with fresh eyes and unique perspective. I bring a candor and an edge and a vulnerable perception that isn’t as easy to find in the people who have lived in the same geographic area their whole life. So, in spite of the impediments it sometimes causes, I enjoy being a bit of HR traveler with no real ties or loyalties to any specific way of doing things.
Ironically, I have no desire or designs to move back to Jersey, either. I love visiting my family and friends – but, while I know it’s forever my hometown, it isn’t my home anymore. I will always claim Jersey and represent for Jersey. I will always be grateful to Jersey for helping shape me. It gave me a strong foundation and confidence and swagger to last a lifetime. Sinatra. Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Queen Latifah … and me!