Overheard in My Office

Steve, my boss, to another manager: Women in general, can’t really be bothered with [whispering:] careers such as ours.

This person has a wife and four teenage daughters.

The wondrous career he refers to is the management of two designers and one developer, yours truly.

I am the only woman he’s ever hired (told me that himself) in the 21 years he’s been with the company. I was the only candidate to pass their technical interview and they were desperate (also his admission).

I am witness to similar wonderful episodes several times a day, every day.

Dear Steve,

You are not cool.

I know your family takes pride in your career. You’re this regular guy who worked hard and then made a life for himself out of managing people. Not printers, not little pencil making assembly lines. People. That’s something, isn’t it? Your mother should be proud. What else do mothers live for past a certain point, if not for the satisfaction of having a really good answer to “What does your son do?”.

“My son, why he’s a manager.” – I picture her saying, and I find myself feeling an outburst of affection towards her, your mother. She’s innocent, she doesn’t know what I know. You are not cool.

The other day, when you told your manager you’d implemented this project that’s taken me four months to build, that wasn’t cool. I said nothing, enthrilled by the realisation that you actually had a manager of your own. Does your mother know that? Oh well, I hope he’s cool and all and gives your hard work the recognition it deserves. It’s always nice to feel appreciated.

Like when I say something and you reply, “Oh, that’s such a girly/Romanian/nerdy thing to say.” and laugh and ignore it, though it’s always some work related thing I’ve purposely rehearsed in my head beforehand, so that it specifically doesn’t come out as girly/Romanian/nerdy (we know you hate that!). I suppose I really should feel special and appreciated then, as I am indeed a girl, a Romanian and a nerd, but I somehow can’t help feeling that’s not cool.

You give me the why-am-I-not-talking-to-the-nice-HR-people vibe several times a day, you know. Take today for example. Remember when the Marketing people came along, and you introduced me as the Romanian, then went on making jokes about my fellow Gypsies coming over to steal your jobs? Oh I know, the century of silence that followed really was crazy embarrassing. And I definitely made it worse for you with my “Well, that certainly was inappropriate.”, before I introduced myself again.

I’m sorry, was that not cool?

It’s true, I suppose I could have giggled one of my girly Romanian giggles and let it pass, but you know what, be grateful I didn’t claw your eyes out. We’re known for being savagely violent back in Gypsyland.

Don’t get me wrong, Steve, it’s not all bad. I like some parts of you. You’ve got a cool laptop bag, for instance. And your mom seems nice. And then, I’m sure there’s plenty of people who think you’re the best manager in the world. Even I could probably fool myself into thinking that, if it weren’t for you being such a horrible human being.

Not cool.

Yay, Let’s Discriminate Together!

So. I work in central London, in this multinational corporation where people worry you’ll run crying to the Human Resources Department if they as much as sneeze in your presence. I’m Romanian, a geek and a girl. I have yet to run crying to the Human Resources Department.

But there are other things you should know about me. That is, unless my colleagues have somewhat jokingly mentioned them already:

  • I steal. It’s gotten quite bad, actually. Make sure you hide your Magic Mice and smartphones if you see me sneaking by. Oh and be careful! I might also attempt to steal your job when you’re not looking. In fact, it’s in the Romanian Bible: Blessed are those who steal everybody’s jobs, for they shall inherit all European Union countries. Look it up.
  • I don’t actually do any work. You may see me typing away at times, which you may innocently take for coding, but in fact, all I’m doing is dispatching instructions to an army of real, proper coders in Romania. I pay them each half a penny an hour to solve my every task, for which they are eternally grateful. Did you not know £1 can get you a five bedroom house in that God forsaken country?
  • I’ve got this master plan to bring my entire family and all my friends over across the Channel. Don’t worry, it will only be about fifty or sixty of them. We’ll all be living in the office, sleeping on and under your desks. They’re nice enough people, it’s going to be fine. It’s true, they steal (we are family after all!), are lazy and only use soap on February 29th, but you’ll grow to love them, I swear!
  • Other than that, I’m just your regular female geek. Utterly unfit for social interactions, dreading any form of outside contact but desperate to get married (an enigma, don’t ask), uninterested in participating in any of the decision making, but happy to type away in her little cocoon, surrounded by flocks of pink, imaginary butterflies.

A pleasure to meet you.