I’ve had several jobs in my life along with the role of mommy and wife. Ironically, the last two I’ve had were because of my husbands’ gregarious personality.
The job before the job I have now came to me at a perfect time in my life. I was working in a place where it was obvious I’d hit the ‘glass ceiling’ and there was no way I was getting past it.
The moon was in the right house or the planets were aligned correctly or something because my husbands’ class reunion had gotten moved that year to a local hotel due to massive flooding. He has a very small class and most of them have never moved away, so it was more like a small cocktail party in the hotel lounge.
At one point in the evening, Hubby went to the bar to get a refill and a man standing there started up a conversation. He found out this group was a class reunion and asked if anyone knew their class song. Nope. After a round of laughter, he and Hubby just continued chatting away. Hubby has that gift. He can talk to anyone.
Little did I know this man had recently aquired a new business in town and was here looking for housing and for employees – techno nerds like myself. Hubby offered him some good information on housing prospects and mentioned his wife. Me.
The man’s company that he’d co-founded had bought out a small division of an existing company here and another on the East coast. The home office was in California. Because he hired me the way he did I became one of the ‘outsiders’ to the older employees- and he and I got along so well that rumors ran rampant. He was odd. I was odd. He had a quirky sense of humor. I have a … you get the idea. He loves his wife and family. I love my husband and family. We were completely platonic friends and work associates.
Could I help it I was a good – no – excellent employee? I anticipated problems and nipped them in the bud. I did my job with speed and accuracy and was never called on to re-process work. I had flexible hours and would usually go in early at 6:30 or 7:00 and work until 3 p.m.so I could get home to my family. I would eat lunch at my desk, and I just don’t ‘do’ breaks. I never have. I find they distract me and I lose my momentum. I had my own cubby, good pay, and a good boss. What more could I want?
A different co-worker for a start. Across the hall from me (the very narrow cubby-hall) was the Queen Bee. I call her this for many reasons. ‘Bee’ being short for – well, use your imagination. Rhymes with witch. She was the matron of the office – the mother figure to all us young ‘uns. She’d been with the original company for twenty-some years and it was her home away from home. Sometimes I got the feeling it was more her home than her home, if you get my drift.
When she came into work each morning (around 8-ish) she would take the time to get her coffee, flit around the office – and maybe get started on her work by 8:30. By 10 o’clock she’d be on coffee break, an hour lunch, and at 2 or 3 o’clock she’d be back on coffee break. After that she would work until 5 or 6 or 7 – until her husband would call from the bar to tell her she could come pick him up. He’d lost his license for drinking and had one of those handy starters in the car you had to breath into that wouldn’t start if you had been drinking. So, he’d have her come to the bar, breath into the starter, then follow him home so she could breath into it again when or if it stopped. (They tried to avoid people having others start their vehicle for them by having them randomly quit and needing a re-start in the middle of god-knows-where.)
I felt for her, I really did. But she’d been married to him for a very long time and it was her life and she seemed perfectly content with the situation.
This went on for a couple of years. Gradually the company was switching from mainframe to PC and the QB was more of a mainframe kind of gal. Frequently I had to help her out on projects or bail her out when she was stuck dealing with a PC problem. I didn’t mind at first. She’d be all ‘sweetness and light’ and I chalked it up to ‘she’s getting used to me – finally‘.
Boy, was I dumb.
After several confrontations with his partner about the way the company was being run and the long-going promise that this company was going public any day now (heard over and over weekly), my friend and boss left the company to go start another one in the south. He felt they’d bitten off more than they could chew with the buying up of these other companies, and he’d been proved right in at least one case because they’d sold one of the new aquisitions shortly after they’d purchased it. The final blow was when they hired a CEO that insisted everyone call him Thumper (name as been changed but was equally as ridiculous for a 40-year-old man). Thumper only worked for the company for 6 months, but took it tits up and cornered himself a nice golden parachute in the process.
When my boss left I was numb. The home office sent out a big mucky-muck to assess the situation. He had meetings for several days, finally calling people into his office on Friday one-by-one to have a chat. Can you say, “I don’t want to chat?”.
Some people were let go. Some promoted. Me? I got a compliment on my work, then an order. I was to start putting in a ‘full day’. I was to stay at the office until QB left the office, and I was to help her with her projects when mine were done.
I tried to explain how I’d worked just as many hours and how my record stood for itself – without getting all vindictive and brining up QB’s husband or why she stayed so late. I’m nothing if not the model of discretion.
It fell on deaf ears.
I don’t know what that woman had been feeding him, but there wasn’t a grain of truth in it. I’ll always remember the smile she gave me as she left his office and passed me in the hall. A shark has more warmth in their grin.
I’ve said it before, but I have the most wonderful hubby on earth. I called him to meet me for lunch and he came, no questions asked. I sat in his pickup in the parking lot, trembling with such shock and anger – my voice cracking as I tried to keep it under control – re-telling the horror of my morning. He asked me what I wanted to do. Short of getting a gun and taking out some people. I said I wanted to quit. I would find another job, I was sure, because this job had built a lot of confidence in me and in my skills. I knew we needed the money, but I needed my sanity.
Hubby said, “Do it”.
Never one to quit a job unfinished, I went back into the office on Saturday and finished my project. I cleaned out my cubby alongside the others who had been ‘let go’ – all of us wondering ‘what next?’. The big boss had gone back to California after doing all the damage he could, so I took the cowards’ way and quit with an e-mail. I never felt such a sense of relief and I never heard from them again.
Ironically, here we are 10 years later and my eldest daughter is working in the same office as QB. She doesn’t know who my daughter is – she’s married and has a different last name – and I’ve warned my daughter to stay away from her. She knows the whole story and luckily doesn’t work in the same department. Daughter says she’s observed from afar, however, and QB seems just the same as I’ve described her…
All I’ve got to say is, you messed with me once, Bitch – never again. I could have titled this piece, “Why I Don’t Like Working With Women”. Give me a room full of men any day!