I don’t write about work a lot. For the most part, I tend to follow the cardinal rule of not saying much about where you work. Because when you post things online they are here forever and you don’t want to get fired. And this blog is not really a rant about work. Not directly. I like my job, I like what I do, I don’t want to stop doing what I do. The beef I have with work has nothing to do with my job, and it has nothing to do with the company itself. Both are fine. Standard. What you would expect out of corporate America.
I suppose it all starts with the culture of the company that owned the product I work with before. It was lax. Like not being at work at all. And in a lot of ways, that was great – we could drink after 5, they kept beer for us in the fridge. There is a pool table, darts, and a Wii in the back, we had a fitness center, and when you went on vacation there, you got pranked. And I’m not talking about someone hid something that was on your desk, I’m talking you come back in from your vacation and your office is flipped onto the ceiling in the mirror image of the way it was on the floor kind of pranking. It was a fun place to work. Liberal. You could say what you wanted, mostly without fear of repercussion. They just didn’t care.
When the larger company came in and bought the product from the smaller company, they said they wanted to keep the culture. Most of us were happy about that. I was happy about that… it meant that I didn’t have to wear business clothes every day. I could still come in wearing my jeans and flip flops and bum around the office all day barefoot if I wanted to. If you are a man in that office, things are great. At one time you could take three hour lunches, get drunk, come back, no one would say anything. Baseball outings in the middle of the work day for the “boys” weren’t (and still apparently aren’t) uncommon either. You can have football games in the middle of the atrium.
For a woman, though, in this male dominated office, things are very, very different. They started out that way… I was hired for my looks. They made no secret about that. And I was hired to be a developer’s girlfriend. They didn’t tell me this until about a year after I got hired there, but it certainly explained why this developer would get drunk, get on World of Warcraft nightly, and profess his love to me while telling me about how he’d had beer and cigarettes for dinner. Forget the fact that I was seeing someone. Forget the fact that I was not attracted to him. Forget the fact that I don’t date people who don’t eat substantial dinners (alcohol is NOT a food group). It didn’t matter. I was still fair game.
In this office, if you are a woman, you can’t befriend your male coworkers either. I made the mistake of trying. And I am friends with a couple of them – the ones that no longer blatantly try to hit on me and who, if they were ever attracted to me, knew how to keep it in their pants (and I think that attraction has fizzled for the most part). I wrote last week about the rumors that are being spread… it’s these friendships that I had that started them. I couldn’t talk to one of them, let alone hang out with one of them, without rumors starting to fly. Before I knew it, I’d slept with all the men in the office at least once… I am apparently a very busy girl.
Now, I have thick skin. I learned not to let it bother me. I knew I wasn’t sleeping with anyone, no one was getting “too” out of hand, and anyway, I’ve been dating one guy or another since I got there (but never anyone I worked with, I do not shit where I eat). I don’t cheat. End of story. As long as I knew it wasn’t true, I told myself, it didn’t matter. I had my couple of close friends there, they knew the truth, that’s all I cared about. Everyone else could go to hell. If I was the subject of conversation at the family Christmas dinners (it was a family-owned company), then so be it. Worse has been spread about me in my day. This is minor, and I’m used to creating scandals wherever I go – half of the time never meaning to.
2013 came, I started seeing someone new. Not unusual for me – though the circumstances this time are a little different. The people I was closest to knew a little about it… enough so that it was evident that I was attached, waiting for the new guy to get here so we could really meet face to face (yes, it is an internet situation which, again, is not unusual for me). The reactions I got from my friends there were fine, at first. Normal, even.
But then I don’t know what happened. It’s as if the rumors that had been floating around the building about me sleeping with a friend of mine went to his head. We both knew about it. The other guys had asked him if we were – he says he told them we absolutely weren’t. And yet, things were changing. They were slight at first. I’d catch him looking at me once in awhile. Not unusual. I get looked at a lot. And anyway he’d ogle the new receptionist more than he’d ogle me (they hire receptionists there to be pieces of meat for the men – seriously). I asked him once, teasingly, what he was going to look at when they fired her. He looked at me seriously and said, “You.” I laughed it off. Obviously it was a joke.
But it wasn’t. Looks turned to words. Words to suggestions. Suggestions to hypotheticals. It was all getting out of hand, none of it was encouraged. At least not on my part. My silence, my unwillingness to answer these questions, to give specifics, to come over, to hang out, to go out for drinks late at night… obviously I was being coy. Obviously. >_>
Worst of all, though, were the seeds of doubt being sown on my current relationship. How do you know you’re the only one? Is he REALLY divorced? How do you know what he’s doing when he’s not talking to you? How do you know there isn’t someone else? How do you know he isn’t actually hanging out in someone’s basement? What are you going to do if he gets here and he’s really short or really bad in bed? The questions went on and on. Building and building until finally he offered to buy me plane tickets to go on vacation with him. Tickets I declined. And I guess I finally snapped, finally, when he commented about not being able to kiss me goodbye… which would have been out of order at ANY time, but was particularly out of order on that particular day. I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that it would have been unappreciated at any time… but given the circumstances and given what was going on right that second, he was particularly out of line.
That said, things have changed. I hadn’t said anything about this to my boyfriend… it was something I could handle on my own, I reasoned, and there was no need to bother him with it. But with the ridiculousness of the situation beginning to escalate, it was time. And anyway, the waiting period I’ve been putting in for the last few months is coming to an end. It is important to me that he trusts me. If this is going to work, it is time to be more candid. At least about things that could, potentially, throw a wrench into this relationship if they became misinterpreted or if people in the office start running their mouths with those rumors.
We both agreed that the guy is a dumbass, I’ve begun to isolate myself at work for the time being. When the boyfriend gets back, and after things have settled down a bit, I will look into what other measures there are to take. I do not know what those might be right now. Things are so cliquish at the office that reporting it in that atmosphere won’t be possible, but there is corporate HR. I could leave, too, but I like my job. I don’t want to leave. I just want the drama to stop. So I sit in my corner, quietly, and I watch, bide my time, be political and friendly (but not overly so), and I wait.
And as for those seeds of doubt that the work guy had been trying to plant (and he’s not the only one)… how do I know that none of those things are true? It’s very simple. I trust my boyfriend. And I will continue to trust him until he gives me a reason not to. Because that’s how this works. If you don’t have trust, you don’t have anything.
My world is about to change soon. But before that happens, I have one last shoot to do. I have a few other things that have to be straightened out here, a few final tasks that have to be completed – though most of it is finished now. And then I am ready. The world will likely end when I do finally see his face in person, but I am ready.
I belong to Caesar.