Let me set the scene. It’s 2:59pm. There is a gloomy blanket of cloud settled over my London view and I am surrounded by people talking about boring business things. Construction stuff, measurements, contract particulars blah blah blah. I am desperate to go home.
I have given up the pretence of caring and merely ignore people when they talk to me. Last week I argued ferociously with an imbecile who ordered me to arrange a conference call and minute a meeting. I took my Masters degree and shook it in his face. He stormed off and sulked in the canteen for the rest of the day. The next day he worked from home.
Now I am not scary (whilst I do suffer mildly from resting bitch face, I am very short and a bit chubby- you can’t actually take me seriously) but this job has made me a teeny tiny bit aggressive. I am angry here a lot. I swear a lot.
But can you really blame me?
I have had an eye-opening, stomach churning insight into the male species, in all their back-slapping, crotch-scratching, aftershave-overdosing glory.
(Unfortunately, the nature of this industry ensures women are under-represented. Gender stereotypes reign and females are concentrated in admin or HR. So I am stuck with men, not normal men, but caricatures of David Brent in all shapes and sizes.)
Consequently, testosterone spills all over the shop as the underlings do their best to impress the big boss and secure a deal. They sniff around his bottom when he enters the office. “Look at me, look at me, pick me, pick me…..” the sheer desperation to impress the “big dog” is sick-making.
In my first meeting with said big dog he told me he was a ‘Sopranos’ kinda boss’ (yes, he actually compared himself to a mafia don). He either loved you or hated you. It is super hard to respond to a tubby, unkempt, white-haired, middle class businessman comparing himself to an Italian crime lord seriously or with a straight face. He went on to tell me that he needed a PA and that I would be ideal for the role. I guffawed. Errr no thanks love, you’re alright.
So, he immediately learnt I wasn’t a ‘yes girl’, that my nose would never be firmly rammed up his rather large bottom. My card, as they say, was marked. In our next encounter, he begrudgingly told me that the team really liked me and they wanted me to stay. He told me that one day he would take me out to lunch so I could learn more about him. In the next breath he said he never met people for lunch and just said it to make them feel good. The ego was bigger than my headache.
Aggression has therefore become a natural crutch for me in this role (please don’t think I go round shouting at every poor bugger that crosses my path, just the idiots). I think part of me has just rejected hierarchy- especially (now I’m going to get a bit feminist for a second) the patriarchal hierarchy that supports this structure. Granted we have one female CEO, but this is a company with a multi billion pound global turnover and one woman to negate the countless males is pretty pathetic. (If only I cared enough to stay and work my way up the ranks…)
Perhaps I’m massively over sensitive. Perhaps I have a huge chip on my shoulder. Or maybe….just maybe…the corporate world needs some sort of drastic makeover and be driven by brains rather than big smelly balls.
Whilst some lovely people have brightened a few of my days, this is a place where arrogance is rewarded and incompetence is covered up. It is where I have witnessed a perfectly intelligent woman (actually scratch that, a highly intelligent woman) allow someone to bark her name across the room and order her to work with him. Under the guise of friendship, she repeatedly allowed him to abuse her good nature and felt aggrieved that the remainder of the team would not kowtow to his continual rudeness. Just barmy.
Is this a true reflection of big business? Where you have to scratch and shout and brown nose to make any headway? Or is it a reflection of my inability to meld into a structure that requires sacrificing your personality to appease those that sit atop the pyramid?
Either way, my plan for escape is till afoot…..would just help if I hadn’t bought so many pairs of trainers last month or gone to the pub as much. #grownupfail