Do I Miss Being Out In The Work Force? Not Sure…

iceposter.com

iceposter.com

Though I do miss being out in the work force, the one thing that I do not miss is the sexual harassment, the sexism and the discrimination I experienced.

Mind you, I worked in the banking industry which is pretty much a breeding ground for all the above, but, when I think back at the things I put up with, it makes my blood boil and makes me hope that my daughter does not experience what I did.

Fresh out of college I got a job at a large bank in downtown Boston, supporting High Technology Commercial Lenders (mostly men) in the business of lending a lot of money to companies such as Digital, Polaroid, GTE and many others along the high-tech beltway on route 128.

I was one of two Administrative Assistants and my duties included going on Customer Calls with the lenders.  It was a great job and I learned a lot about the industry.

As is the case in many jobs there was this ONE man who was very high-ranked who overtly expressed his power over everyone (including my boss) and his lack of dignity and obvious sexism.  While he attended a conference call near my office with my boss and other lenders, he came out and sauntered over to my desk.

He flung $5 dollars on my desk and said, “Be a doll and get me a pack of cigarettes downstairs, will ya?”  As he walked back into the conference room I sat there in shock.  Soon, I found myself getting up from my desk, taking the elevator down to the lobby store and purchasing the cigarettes he had requested.  Yes, I was fuming.  You have no idea how much fuming was being had.  But on the way back up the elevator I felt a sense of calmness.  I somehow knew that I was going to let him have it.  No matter his position, I was going to give him a piece of me (said my index finger making an imaginary z formation.)

I calmly walked over to the conference room, opened the door without knocking, did not concern myself with the voices that were on the other end of the conference call and walked over to where he was sitting.  I slammed the cigarettes and change on the table and said, “Don’t you EVER, EVER ask me to get you cigarettes again, understand?”  I calmly walked back to my desk and got back to work.

screeninsults.com

screeninsults.com

Well, little did I know that I would become famous in the entire building.  First, my boss came running out to apologize to me for what had just happened.  Then, for an entire week, employees of the bank came up to me to shake my hand and to tell me how proud they were of me.  It was incredible!  Finally, Mr. Nicotine himself (after being forced by HR) came to my desk and personally apologized for the way he treated me and assured me that it would never happen again.

Next “fun” experience, was a customer of the bank who when faced with my existence at his company for a meeting with the lender I supported, refused to conduct business.  After walking in to the conference room and looking stunned that I (a woman) was in attendance, he informed us that he would not discuss business in my presence and that I needed to leave the room.   Shocked but confident that the lender would defend me immediately and let this customer know that this was not acceptable and that I would be remaining in the room, I stayed in my seat.  Instead, the lender looked at me and asked me to wait in the waiting room.  WHAT?  Are you kidding me? Grrrrrrrr.

doughberger.net

doughberger.net

After transferring to another branch (same bank) in the town where Mr. Brickhouse and I had recently wed, I thought good things were ahead.  I was older, more confident and was looking forward to working with a more laid back clientele.

Until one of the new lenders I supported (a woman this time) informed me that the worst part of the job was dealing with all the Puerto Ricans in the city and how scummy they all were.  What?  Could you repeat that, please?  It actually was comical watching her *Sh** her pants as I informed her that I was Puerto Rican and that I took offense to everything she had just said.  She gave me the classic, “Oh, I don’t have anything against Puerto Ricans, in fact I have a friend who has a girlfriend who has a friend whose sister is half Puerto Rican and her name is Maria and she’s really nice.”  *Cricket…*cricket…

myhumorspot.com

myhumorspot.com

Last on today’s list was the absolute worse experience I ever had.  At this very same new office where Puerto Ricans were obviously warmly welcomed, my new boss turned out to be horrendous.  Apparently, according to other employees, I was a replica of his wife, but a younger version, and someone HE was determined to seduce.

First, he asked me if I was planning on getting pregnant soon and told me how he hoped this was not the case since I had just transferred to his office and I needed to “give” him at least a year before popping out any rug rats.

google.com

google.com

When called into his office, he would often close the door.  He would conduct business but would stop to ask me to put eye drops in his eyes while he reclined in his office chair, or would show me pictures of obese naked women he had taken at a show.  He would discuss sex all the time, ask me how much I liked my husband and commented on my outfits.

I fought his every move.  Soon the word around the bank was that he and I were an “item”.  OMG.  This upset me more than anything.  The thought of other’s thinking that I was having an affair, and with this scum bag was killing me.  I tried convincing people that this was not true but nobody believed me.

I immediately interviewed at another branch and got the job.  The problem was that Scum Bag would NOT let me go.  He insisted that I had given him a one year verbal commitment (with no popping of babies, of course) and that I needed to stay until I fulfilled my commitment.  That was now three months away and I did not know how I was going to survive.  He had power.  He intimidated me and others.  He succeeded in “keeping” me there until the three months had passed.

dasourcekode.com  "Speaking of Pregnant"

dasourcekode.com
“Speaking of Pregnant…”

Please tell me that things have changed and improved since!?

 

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56 thoughts on “Do I Miss Being Out In The Work Force? Not Sure…

  1. I hate to tell you this. But it hasn’t changed much in male dominated industries, like banking, or my place of business. At least now HR supports you. If you want to be ‘that guy.’ Which I don’t. So, I draw lines and make sure everyone knows: you can say this, but not this. And it’s sad how much I have to let things go to get along. And it’s even sadder when people cant seem to follow my most basic level of desire for respect.

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    1. You are so right about how much we have to put up with to be “accepted”. I am no prude and am the first one to enjoy NOT being PC every once in a while, but there is a time and place for it (like Twitter) and also, I am not in a position of power. 🙂 #ThankGodforTwitter

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  2. Okay. The only thing I can add here is that all of my possible-lawsuit-worthy job stories happened while I worked IN LAW FIRMS. Banks are not worse than law firms. Well, they’re almost not worse. I’m always appalled at the things people do at work and think they can get away with. Nothing has really changed on that score, though I’m like you, somewhat insulated from it by over a decade of self-employment. At least, I can choose my clients now, and walk away when something makes me uncomfortable.

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  3. Oh my word. How absolutely horrendous!!!! I’m glad you said what you said to the cigarette guy. And as for the racist remarks, I’m beyond appalled and sick of remarks like that.

    I’ve experienced the sexism and racism also. I’m also sick of the justification for said remarks. (“Oh, it was just a joke. Don’t be so sensitive.”) At one company, men made more money and some treated women as if we were lower life forms. When we complained about the money, we were told, “Men have to support their families.” As if women don’t have families???

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  4. Oh Maria, I read this and weep and laugh at the same time, such is the way hard-hitting but hilarious way you write in describing these awful experiences. The Puerto Rican comments, well, it’s a good job I wasn’t drinking my tea when I read that, I would have choked on it! Unbelievable…

    You last experience must have been the worse ever. Things have changed to a point here in the UK but maybe not for some of the ‘good old boy’ crowd who think that all women in the office are there to serve them. My last job (2011) was as a legal secretary at a law firm. I worked part-time and it was a step down from the usual PA and administrative roles I’d had before because I had to be home for my daughter and it was during the recession so the best jobs were non-existent.
    My boss, also the owner of the company, used to saunter in mid-morning, call me darling and ask me to get his coffee for him. Once he put his arm around my waist. I’m surprised he didn’t pat my bum while he was at it. When I was told I was losing my job (he was retiring) I was actually so glad as I was going to look for another job anyway.
    But one thing after another, my daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s and in the end I vowed never to be a servant (ooops, sorry, meant secretary) to any man ever again!!! Another boss I had used to come out of his office when he had ‘important’ clients and ask me to make tea for them all ‘in the best china’. I was livid.
    I hope that when the time comes for you to return to work Maria, if that is your plan, that you don’t run into any more sexist and rude scumbags like these. As for standing up to that jerk about the cigarettes, you go girl!!! Wow, you are one awesome Brickhouse Chick, my heroine 🙂

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    1. I am finding out what a world wide problem it has been and sadly, still is. Change takes a looooooong time, but it’s worth the wait. 🙂 You are so funny about me standing up to Nicotine Dude! I felt like a celebrity, I guess many had wanted to tell him off and were glad somebody finally did. As to Scum Bag Boss, the thought of him still gives me the creeps and I lament the $$$ I would have made on a major law suit! 🙂

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  5. I went out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant with a bunch of co-workers in college. One of the guys commented, “we don’t need to tip, the money from our bill is going straight back to Mexico to feed their families anyway.”
    OOOOOOOO….I was so mad!! He had no idea I was half Mexican. Luckily, it was only an internship and I left a few months later.

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  6. I am horrified. The stuff you had to deal with is appalling! I think it’s gotten better, but it hasn’t disappeared. The sexist objectification isn’t as blatant, but what I noticed from 6 years in retail management is that they are much MUCH harder on the women managers than the male managers. It’s comical when a male loses their sales teams’ papers, but if a female misplaced something she was reamed out. Even though I always had a female store manager, they were always so much harder on the women than men. That was one of the most frustrating elements about working a job that took up 60 hours of your week and left you exhausted at the end of the day. There was little appreciation or recognition for all that hard work. Sooo glad I left that industry.

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    1. That IS a tough industry, Jess! Glad you left too. Navigating the politics at work is hard enough without having to deal with sexism, racism and harassment. I have had positive experiences, of course but this whole Don Sterling thing brought back some not so fond memories. 🙂

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    1. LOL. Don’t be ashamed! There are good ones out there that make up somewhat, for the scum bags. Castration would however, be a good solution. Thanks for helping me think of this punishment by mentioning your “member”. 🙂

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  7. I had a very bad experience with a boss in my 20’s. Thankfully I had a good head on my shoulders and nipped it in the bud, but not before a lot of extremely uncomfortable situations.
    After him, there were many more perverts who used there positions to try and get what they wanted.
    I hate to say it, but things haven’t changed, Maria. Prepare your daughter, but if she’s like you, which I know she is, she’ll be okay.
    By the way, I loved the movie 9 to 5!
    I hope you’re feeling better after that nasty bug took over your house. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it will be hard to find a woman who hasn’t experienced this at some point in their careers! And plenty of men as well. My daughter is pretty feisty (I don’t know where she gets that) 🙂 so I am hoping she will defend herself should she experience anything like this. My little brick child…

      I am slowly climbing up from the bowels of life (literally) but still weak and with little appetite. This is unheard of for me. I have never NOT been hungry, Jill! LOL! I can stand to lose a couple of twenty pounds or so. 🙂 Have a lovely week!

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  8. I’m not sure it is any better. A friend recently got “laid off” for inappropriate advances from HER BOSS. My last day at my job is Friday. I work in an office with all women, but the discrimination and undermining is no different. I’m aghast at the behavior of “professionals.” I think Corporate America needs a reality check.

    I’m sorry you had to deal with so many different types of hostile work environments. I guess that’s what HR is for???? (This coming from someone who is LEAVING HR because they don’t do a thing to make it better.)

    Wow. I’m bitter. Or drunk. Either way, my last day is Friday and I’ll be celebrating the end of my time in the work force.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, congratulations to you, Rachel! I hope you are leaving for better endeavors! There are some work environments ( I hear) that are wonderful and people become close to their co-workers for life. I did have some wonderful co-workers, sadly, it was the ones with the power, of course, that made it difficult.

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  9. I wouldn’t know… my résumé is spottier than a Dalmatian. Before my descent into disability, I just remembered that I wouldn’t take any crap– didn’t have to deal with this very much (but, despite my maleness, I did deal with sexism and harrassment at work).

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      1. Yup. I’ve wanted to think it wasn’t, but nope, it slapped me upside the back of my head. A little bit of it was just guys being bullies, but, yeah, I remember women acting badly. I still remember crossing the street at university years ago and some woman leaned out of her car and said, “Yeah, baby, shake it.” Sure. Like I enjoy being a dancing piece of meat.

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        1. Yeah 😦

          I remember watching a PSA from “waytohappiness” or “waytoabetterlife” of women just assaulting this guy (to the point of him getting bruises and a black eye or something) and I thought the message was going to be “women shouldn’t hit men either” but instead it was “cheating hurts” or something like that. Gah. Infidelity is bad, but it doesn’t justify physical violence, right?

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  10. Oh, I understand where you are coming from as I was subjected to all that too, including one man when I was a secretary, telling me to make a pot of coffee, he wasn’t even my boss or in any way connected to me. I looked at him for a second, told him to follow me, and promptly showed him how to make a pot of coffee, then I told him next time he wanted some damn coffee to make it himself! I have been out of the outside workforce too long, but I have my doubts if things have changed all that much.

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  11. I remember my first “real” full time job out of college. My boss was always touching me – a hand on my shoulder, a hand massaging my neck. I went to his boss and complained. Ha! Fat lot of good that did. I quit immediately. I was 18 and naive but I knew that this was wrong and there was no way I was going to stand for that kind of treatment. I’ve never looked back. Idiots

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    1. Yes, the “touchy” boss! Had several of those too. You do have to learn self respect from a very young age. I am hopeful that my daughter, being the spit fire she is, will not allow this kind of behavior in her life. Idiotas!!

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  12. Love your style, Maria! I used to work in the commercial real estate industry, which is about a slimy and sexist as it gets. The best I managed was to post a quote from ‘Beauty Myth’ above my desk, and to complain about the sexist jokes that were getting circulated on email (by women as well as men). That job and I were doomed to part company 🙂 If you’re considering re-entry, I think the best you can hope for is a veneer…

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    1. Oh, yes. Commercial Real Estate. You were doomed. I want to believe that people are at least more controlled now that social media can damage your career for life and that HR has better policies. I’m sure we have a long way to go still.

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    1. I couldn’t believe the response I got and was so happy to be supported by so many. Everyone was afraid of Nicotine Dude but I didn’t care if I was going to get fired. I needed to tell him off! 🙂

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  13. I was brought up as a man who respects others, no matter what their race or sex is. I think things are a bit better in the workforce, and none of that would be allowed where I work, but I’m sure at some other companies this foolishness still happens.

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  14. I’d really like to tell you things have gotten better, and they have a bit.
    But pezheads will always be pezheads, and pezheads with power doubly so.

    But, at a lot of companies, complaining to HR is a very real threat, and can at least protect you to some degree.
    And if not, there are always small digital recorders and media outlets.

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  15. Being a man, being part of the work-at-home freelance force, being totally aghast at the soul-sapping crap you had to put up with, Mrs. Brickhouse, I must say from my little window onto the world: I sure hope it’s better than that now.

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