When Maryam Adib arrives in Canada, she starts a full-time job in a large Iranian restaurant as a main chef and website designer. She excels at the multitasking required of her, but her high-heeled shoes, which caused no issues in Iran, get Maryam in trouble in Calgary.
My name is Maryam, and I have two children. We are from Iran, and when we were still living there, I owned a private institution that taught computer skills to women. About 20 years ago, I graduated from the University of Tehran in computer engineering, specializing in software. I have more than 15 years’ experience as a programmer and an instructor with more than 100 students in my class. So, every day I dressed as a professional in a long jacket and narrow pants, and I always put on a pair of high-heeled shoes. Most of the time, the shoe colour matched my clothes and bag. I strongly believe that every day in my life is a unique day that I should prepare for by trying to look my best.
When we applied for immigration to Canada, I sold most of our home furnishings and many of my outfits through a sale at my home. But I kept one pair of high-heeled shoes that I really love. These shoes are cream-coloured, high-heel canvas sandals with ribbons that tie around my ankles. They are fabulous!
On August 4th, 2013, we flew to Toronto, Canada. The city was so vibrant and crowded. I put on my cream high heels that make me look so fabulous, and I really enjoyed walking around. After four months, we moved to Calgary for my husband’s job. I got a job at a big Iranian restaurant. The owner needed a manager who could multi-task. I persuaded myself that I could work this job in my clothes and shoes from Iran. But I found out differently.
The restaurant has a big kitchen with three fridges, two ovens, two sinks for washing fruits and vegetables, and two huge storage bins for keeping rice and grains. The front of the restaurant has a dining area for customers with 50 tables and 200 chairs. The problem is that the floor is slippery and wet most of the time. I felt I could walk okay in my high-heeled shoes if I moved carefully, but the restaurant manager is a strict man who was very annoyed and stressed about my heels. He kept telling me, “Please change your shoes, Maryam.” I would reply, “I am just fine in these shoes.”
Every morning when the manager saw my shoes, he would start to nag. He said my shoes were dangerous. He said he would not tolerate them. He said I would slip or fall and hurt myself. Then who would do the work? I had to cook more than 12 kinds of cuisine, manage the food inventory, enter the customers’ information, and do the bi-weekly shopping lists. I also designed the menu and website and did the cleaning and washing. And other things!
I continued to insist that I was not having trouble with my high-heeled shoes. But I had to be on my feet all the time and dash through the front and back of the restaurant. After a while, I accepted that the condition of my life had changed, so I finally went shopping and bought a pair of running shoes.
The day I entered the restaurant in my new running shoes, the manager got so excited. He said: “You did it!” All my staff in the kitchen started laughing.
And you know what? The running shoes are comfortable, cozy and beautiful. But I still keep my old cream high heels in my drawer at work. I wear them for parties or in the office. And they still look fabulous. They remind me that life brings many changes and that I should worry about matching my ideas and interests rather than my shoes and outfits.
MARYAM ADIB was born in Tehran, Iran. She is a skilled cook and computer programmer.