Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A bone to pick

Normally I avoid talking about work on the blog because, well: the internet is scary, I work in the public sector and I would like to keep my job. I also deal with a lot of confidential information. Tonight, it just so happens that I need to vent.

I am really struggling with my job right now. The work I am doing is intense in both content and amount but that isn't really the issue. The issue is that I am working on a team with two people who make me crazy. Two men who make me crazy, to be more exact. 

When I am being diplomatic about these men I say that we are very different. When I am bitching about these men (which happens a lot these days) I say much, much more. 

We are very different and that is a lot of the problem. They are both young, from small towns, married with pregnant wives, and very, very sheltered. That isn't just the problem, though. The problem is (just a few examples):

Both of them talk about their pregnant wives like they are fucking disabled. "Well, she's pregnant so she doesn't make any sense," "Well, she's pregnant, so..." It makes me want to punch them in the face.

One of them told me that he likes his cul-de-sac because you know right away if someone is on the street who doesn't belong. When I - trying to piece together a response that didn't betray my horror - mentioned living in the city because there are lots of people around his response was, "Oh, you'll change your mind when you have kids and start thinking about their safety." I was unable to stop myself from saying, "No, I won't. I want my kids to grow up and know how to interact with lots of different kinds of people." (Note: this man is not white.) (Double note: I was able to stop myself from asking him to please not assume anything about my desire to have children and/or my ability to keep said hypothetical children safe.) He also micro-manages me like a motherfucker.

The other guy is three years younger than me but gets to act as my in-charge when cul-de-sac man goes on paternity leave (Quote: "I'll probably end up getting bored and coming back to work early." GRRRR) because this was his first job out of college. This man told me that the only woman he would ever be alone with outside of work besides his wife (who he married at 21) is his mother. He goes to the kind of church that encouraged him to stop carpooling to work with another woman from the church because she is single and he is married (something about avoiding the appearance of evil, I don't know). He unabashedly doesn't care about politics, loves to hunt, and either talks down to me or jokes with me like I'm his buddy.  He is completely unaware of the insane amount of White Male Privilege that has afforded him almost everything that he has. He thinks he the world is owed to him and that he has earned it.

Phew. I could go on but I feel I may have said too much already. I have a meeting with my mentor tomorrow to ask her advice on how to handle this situation as I have to work with these men (and pretty much only these men) for another year. I am trying to sort out what is really an issue and what is my own snobbishness/oversensitivity. I am also trying to remind myself how lucky I am to have made it through 28 years and many jobs before encountering people like this.

Any suggestions welcome. 


  1. o . O
    I need to think about this one.

  2. Good lord! That is a horrible work environment. I'm so sorry... I don't think you're necessarily being oversensitive when you're constantly dogged by statements that are such an affront to your values. Really hard to say how to resolve this one... hopefully your mentor will have some good guidance to offer.

  3. I also don't write about work, because... well, let's get into that in person in June, shall we? :) Anyway, since this summer, I have found it enormously effective to emotionally remove myself from my work. I still care about it, I am still excellent at it, but my emotional state is no longer wrapped up in the day to day workings of this university. And that has been a huge help.

    This is not to say that I do not come home screaming some days. But they are SOME days, not every day, and that is an improvement.

    Good luck- they sound miserable!

  4. Oh, that's a tricky one. It's so hard to handle these kinds of situations because any one example may sound pretty innocuous. It's when you take all of the incidents of both men together that makes for such a bad work environment.

    My only advice would be to focus on the condescension and micro-management when you first talk to you mentor. Then, if you trust your mentor, talk about how they are sheltered and offensive towards women. I've seen women be labeled as "overly sensitive" before when the complaints aren't wholly related to the job. It sucks and is completely unfair, but it seems a lot of people think this way. Try to take the emotion out of the situation (difficult, I know). Stay professional and let their asshat personalities speak for themselves. Good luck.

  5. Oh sweet baby immortals. I am so sorry. SO SORRY. I'd try to do what Lauren does, and I won't give any advice myself because I absolutely suck ass at that type of situation and end up just coming home a screaming, ranting wreck most days. (I'm working on that, by the way. It involves acupuncture, yoga and meditation. I *know*.)

    Good luck!

  6. wow.
    i really don't know what to say to that. i think lauren's advice is very sage.
    i am seeing too much red right now to think straight. i am so sorry you have to deal with this.

  7. @Everyone: your comments have brought me back from the brink! It feels a lot better just to have some confirmation that no, I am not crazy, and yes, these guys are a piece of work (even if you are totally relying upon me for your thinking about that). I think I'm doing a little better with the whole thing and even am trying to come up with some positive things about the situation.
    @Carrie Dee: I got your comment RIGHT before I met with my mentor and it was really helpful, thank you.
    @Lauren: yes, you are right. Emotional detachment from work...I work on it.

  8. Oh my word, I'm reading backwards here and I have to say girl you are a saint for just asking for advice on this blog rather than totally losing your cool. Double well done, seriously.