Morning Journal: Sit Quiet. Look Pretty.

I hate being overwhelmingly disappointed.

Yesterday I was told during a backhanded compliment that I needed to use (paraphrasing) softer tones with the men I interact with for my job because “men take direction from other men better just like women take it better from other women”.  I spoke up and disagreed, though it mattered little.

Sitting at my current desk I have been told by more than one man to “smile” as they passed my office while I was working.  It is as if my look of concentration while performing the task at hand was not enough.  I must also be aesthetically pleasing to the male of the species who might pass by.

I had a man scream at me in front of a roomful of other men, after which I spoke out, others spoke out on my behalf and yet…the aggressor never apologized nor was it requested of him to do so (to my knowledge).  The same aggressor kept a display jar for medical samples in his office (the kind you would see at a doctor’s office) that had VIAGRA written across it.  He kept it full of company-purchased candy and so, if you wanted an M&M (yes, even the Viagra blue ones) you had to reach into the large Viagra display jar to get it.

I had another brassy man scream at me “how about you do your job and….” while I was doing part of my job that is a courtesy to others (and not part of my actual job).  As a note to that, I went to his manager and told him that that courtesy is now revoked and now there is another female performing that task.  As a further note, this man tried to use a leaf blower in a closed shop to clean the years-accumulated dust off of shelves and when I asked him to stop because I am allergic to dust and it was overwhelming me, I then became the asshole of the situation.

In a task that required a “buddy” for safety, a male counterpart had no one to buddy up with.  Later I offered to be the buddy in times where others are not available.  I was told (not by the coworker, mind you) “the boys” do that, it is not necessary of me.  The man now performs that task, alone, when others are not available to buddy-up with him.

Once I heard a woman utter the phrase “I have to take care of my people” by someone who should never say that in the position they hold.

Labeling misogyny as attempted “chivalry” is common ’round here’.  “He is just a country boy, that’s how he was raised…”

As rumors swirl of clandestine affairs that everyone knows about, I am left to ask myself, “is that the way you get ahead here?”

My husband feels I go out of my way too much or I work too much for them or I volunteer myself when it is not necessary.  That is not the case – I was raised to be a performer – “work hard, reap well”.  A rigid work ethic was the example I was given in life and it is the one I adhere to, to the best of my ability. My job, when I started, was extremely basic in nature.  I built it into (IMHO) a respectable position with work that is not so generic that it would bore me to tears.  I have peppered it with pet projects that I hoped would give me joy.  Today, I realize, that I am seen as little more than a secretary and that will be the culmination of my work here.  And, although that is an important position within a company and respectable within its own characteristics: the decades of experience that I have in my arsenal grow dusty, I am not utilized to my potential, I can only say “I would love to do the shadow project at HQ” so many times before I am embarrassed that I am trying too hard and I grow bored.  And then I question whether my husband was right and I was wrong to put myself out there and offering more and finding myself so deeply disappointed.

How dare I make my position one that allows me to feel as if I am presenting the best version of my self?

Can I change a fundamental part of my character that wants to hold a position that gives me some sort of self-placed dignity?

I used to be the Director of Human Resources and Financial Operations for a firm in NYC. I owned my own bookkeeping business that catered to Broadway.  My experience is specific to HR, accounting and office management.  I have decades of experience.  And I sit here, in a lower level admin position, because this area has three options for employment: the “power company”, the prison or Walmart.

I feel that once I was a force to be reckoned with and I held a position that commanded a certain amount of respect for the work I put forth.  Now, in a different time and what feels to be a different world, I get to sit quiet and look pretty.  And the absolute realization of this is overwhelmingly disappointing.

2 replies »

  1. Wow! I’m speechless at way people behave in this world. I wanted to say something that would be an encouragement to you but nothing seems to look as good in writing as it sounds in my head. My day job is a fraud analyst for a major ticketing system and if you’re able to keep Broadway happy then I’m impressed.

    • I am less surprised by people’s actions as I am disappointed. Especially when it involves people I hold with a certain esteem. I left southern West Virginia around 2001. For reasons similar to these. I lived in NYC for a decade and when Ma passed, I moved home to be close to my Father. It is a far different world here. Such a beautiful state, such amazing potential and yet…

      I have had at least one former client per year for the past four years score a Tony win. I was a very fortunate woman, the life I lived there and the people I knew. I miss it sometimes. Right to my marrow. Especially when things like this happen.

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