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Chicago Witch

When I first became a leasing agent, one of the concerns I had was probably something most people never think about: Whether or not I could wear religious jewelry while showing apartments. I have been Pagan since 1995, and with every job I’ve had since that time, even when I worked at a Catholic convent, I always wore my jewelry. It’s that important to me. Not only do I recharge it often as a form of protection as well as to amplify that gut instinct that’s never been wrong, but it also serves as a constant reminder of my faith each and every time I catch a glimpse of my own reflection. Just like my trademark black eyeliner, I feel absolutely naked without it.

So when I got my books and materials, right away I started reading all these scary things about what can be misconstrued as forms of discrimination. There are so many things a real estate agent can’t say or do in order to be truly fair and unbiased to the public. One of them is mentioning places of worship – even if it happens to be a landmark church right next door to the property I’m marketing. So while I can say it’s next door to Swingers Sports Bar and Grill, I can’t say it’s across the street from Holy Mother Cathedral - even though more people are probably familiar with that iconic, architectural beauty.

I didn’t want to start tucking my (very stylized) pentacle necklace under my blouses and constantly worry it would slip out in front of people, nor did I want to take it off entirely, perhaps tucking it into my pocket. Knowing me, I’d lose it, and both the chain and pendant are made of silver, plus the black onyx center, – not exactly cheap, and I haven’t seen another pendant like it since it called to me over ten years ago. No, I really need to wear it like I always do, and hey – it’s stylized enough. Maybe I can just hope no one ever asks about it.

I asked people on my friends list their thoughts, and many people suggested I do one of the latter options. That didn’t sit right with me. I also ran several search queries about religion and real estate. Lo and behold, I saw real estate agents blatantly and cheerfully advertising they were Christians, which had me wondering if they simply were not concerned about a perceived bias or it was indeed acceptable to do so. So, even though I was nervous as to what they’d say, I swallowed hard and called HQ downtown. My broker said I should call if I ever had any questions he couldn’t immediately answer. (And being new, I felt it was much safer to ask them than him!)

I asked the woman who answered if it was permissible for agents to wear religious jewelry while at showings, and she put me on hold for a moment. Let me tell you: It was probably only a few seconds, but to me, it felt like an eternity. She got back to me and said I was welcome to wear whatever I wanted, though it’s always advisable to dress tastefully and professionally. No problem! I can do that! I worked as a paralegal downtown for years, so of course I have a nice wardrobe in my closet.

As soon as I got off the phone, I was so happy to let everyone know the folks downtown said it was A-OK to wear, which actually surprised a few of them. Some people even said I still shouldn’t, which that just triggered my inner Rosie Riveter. The next day, at my very first showing, I took extra time doing my hair and makeup, and I clasped on my necklace lovingly – perfectly centering the pendant against my skin. I was proud of who I was, and the moment I put on the necklace, I felt such a rush flow over me, washing away all of that First Day Jitters. I. Was. Ready.

So how did my first showing day go? The couple didn’t rent the apartment on the spot, but they did come back to me a week later. Unfortunately for them, I had already signed a lease with someone else who had also visited me that first day. And what’s more, I was showing an apartment currently occupied by a former property manager/current soap maker who was Pagan-friendly, if not Pagan herself. She noticed my necklace right off the bat, and we got to talking about all kinds of stuff. That first day, I learned so much from her, and she even helped me talk to the people viewing the apartment whenever I stumbled on a detail.

From that day onward, I realized I had made the right choice – that being true to myself keeps me in a positive mood, and that is such an important factor in sales. And, I’m already in a good mood just because I’m helping people with a basic need. So yeah, as they say, it’s all good!

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Lori Dake is a life-long native several generations back, a mom to an adult son and has been together with her husband over twenty years. She is a real estate broker primarily serving the North Side and has also worked as a paralegal for several years. Sometimes, she’s a hardcore fashionista, and sometimes a concert shirt and jeans are more her style. Hobbies include painting while listening to 80’s metal, writing, participating in various forms of philanthropy and creating fabulous meals on a budget.


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