Friday, February 29, 2008

Wound up

I have a male boss. He's in his early fifties. Has a wife and two kids (both have passed twenty). A nice house in the wealthy parts of the region.

And on a regular basis, he pissed me off. He makes me all wound up.

Like just an hour ago.

We have a "technical assistant" in our building. Her job is to "technically assist" some of the people working here. She's responsible for answering the phone with calls from customers. She takes care of documentation of various things. She keeps track on some of the guys' working hours. She's sort of a "secretary" but not really.

She's a single mom in her forties. She's not paid all too well.

Every day she makes sure that the coffee is made in time for the guys to come in for breakfast, lunch and afternoon break. This is not in her job description but she does it. She's here all day whereas the guys are out working, so they've made an agreement. If she's not here for some reason (vacation or sick or something) her boss or his stand-in takes over the coffee making.

The assistant (who technically doesn't have to serve me or my boss at all if you look at our organization scheme) very rarely says no if she's asked to do something. She's really one of the good ones. Doing a lot of things that she technically isn't employed to do. She's willing to make things run smoothly around here.

BUT... And there's a big BUT in here. My male boss (the one in his fifties with a wife and two kids and a house in the wealthy parts of the region) doesn't seem to realize that she does a lot of things outside of her job description just to be nice. He takes it for granted. He expects her to do everything that remotely resembles a household chore; water the plants, wash up the dishes left in the sink, clean up the conference room after meetings where coffee has been served, make lunch reservations and so on and son on... I've never heard him thank her. And neither has she...

After breakfast this morning I almost slapped my boss' face... The two of us were sitting in the lunch room discussing a meeting I attended yesterday when the doorbell to our building rang. Being second closest to the door (my boss being closer) I went to open it. Two repairmen came in to fix something with our stove and oven. I sat down again and we continued our conversation as the men moved the stove/oven. By doing so, the revealed how dirty it was under the stove; the dust bunnies were dancing around happily... They asked for a broom and some water to clean up.

My boss stood up, being closest to the room where we keep cleaning supplies, and walked passed me in the other direction to the assitant's room. As soon as he walked in that direction I got up and got a broom from the cleaning supply room. I knew he'd tell her to clean the floor and I couldn't take her doing it. As I got back into the lunch room I met my boss coming out from the assistant's room to sit down and continue our conversation. He said in a surprised voice "Oh, Anna already got the broom" to which I answered "Of course I did. I don't think that's [insert name of assistant]'s job" and I started to sweep up the dust bunnies. As I was doing that and my boss got over to his seat to get his glasses from the table (he was smart enough to realize that our meeting conversation was over), he said, in a very irritated and know-it-all-like voice, "Then who's is it?". My answer: "Well, it could just as well be yours".

He didn't answer. He took his glasses and walked to his room. I did my best on the dust bunnies and got out of the repairmen's way so they could do their job.

I got into my room and I'm not kidding when I say I was shivering with frustration. He's just such a male chauvinist pig some times. Or stuck up. Thinking he's too good to sweep dust bunnies off the floor. Expecting the single mom with less than half his salary to do it even if it's not in her job description to clean the place. (We have a "cleaning lady" coming in every day.)

Two minutes after I got into my room, the assistant came to thank me. She had heard what I'd said and really appreciated me standing up for her. She said she'd been too stunned to object when he had asked her. Or rather had told her that the floor needed to be cleaned. We both let off steam for a bit by going through a number of other occassions when he's acted like that. And how we, both or individually, has protested against his behaviour in different ways. Without him getting it. At all.

I'm so wound up I'm thinking about different ways of letting my boss know how badly he behaves when he does things like this. How he comes off as being chauvinistic, rude and stuck up. If I don't calm down a bit I might just pass his office and tell him what a jerk he is and that I think he owes her an apology. But in words that are not as nice...


Geek Knitter said...

It is so hard to know what to do in these situations. Do you confront the person or not? Will it makes things better or worse if you do? Will it really solve anything? Will it make things even more awkward?

I don't really have any advice for you, but I know exactly how you feel.

Shelley said...

AWESOME WORK, GIRL! I'm so glad that you made your point to's better to deal with these situations at the moment they occur rather than letting them brew inside. But at the same time, please don't let any anger consume you. You did the right thing here, and the best thing to do is to make similar remarks to him when he acts this way in the future. Let's face it, at this point in the game he's probably used to being called a jerk, so that won't help matters...

Oh, man, Anna always delivers it the a Swedish Charlie's Angel! Woo-hoo!

Kim said...

Imagine what his wife's life is like. Sure, she probably has a cleaning person but there are loads of things a cleaning person doesn't do.

What a great thing to stand up to him.

essjay said...

I think that it is wonderful that you said even what you did. You are able to see what truly goes on in the office and you were willing to do something not in your job description. People do take others for granted and think thinks are "below" them....and that is so hard to deal with. I don't have any advice, but like Anree I know exactly what you are feeling and you DID make a difference to the technical assistant - she knows that someone else sees it too!

Jen said...

Atta girl, Anna!! I'm just so proud of you for having told him off in the first place. Way to go! :muah:

Anonymous said...

Hej Anna! Hoppas att du läser detta och hoppas att du ursäktar mig för att jag skriver på svenska. Du kan mejla mig på så får du lite prisuppgifter på saker som jag gör, såväl smycken som fat. Dock dröjer faten längre än de ringar som finns att tillgå redan nu, samt de armband som finns redan nu med =) Men hör av dig! Hälsn. Jessica.

DotMom (a.k.a. Julie) said...

Well, I'm a little late to this party, but Anna, I just wanted to tell you how impressed I am that you spoke up about this! :kram: