Hmm, my one year blogoversary was on Saturday and I missed it. Oh well.
I try to not talk too much about my current job, but I’ve already broken the seal with the vagina story. So here is another one.
I have worked at my company going on 11 years. But I only transferred to my current office about 4 years ago. It doesn’t really matter where I go, I am the only woman. Or one of very few women. My current office employs over 100 men and me.
This is relevant because it leads men to be very creepy towards me in the workplace. I get that I am one of very few women. But when we have our quarterly meetings there are 500 men and about 10 women, if even. So that means that walking around that space is like walking a gauntlet of 1,000 prying eyes.
I used to think I was imagining it. Until men came up to me from others offices, months or even years later to tell me about the first time they ever saw me. I did not meet these men. They just noticed me and apparently never forgot me. It doesn’t make me feel flattered, it makes me feel scrutinized and othered and creeped out.
The first time I ever attended one of our quarterly meetings, I was especially self conscious. I didn’t really know anyone at this new office, in this new region. I was kind of standing off to the side, trying to avoid any eye contact that would be taken as an invitation to come talk to me.
Except, I had to pee. Really badly. And I didn’t know where the bathrooms were because we hold our meetings at the Shriner’s club. But I also didn’t want to wander around and give all these men a chance to be gross towards me. Or interact with me in general.
I decided to approach someone and ask for help. Ideally someone that worked at the Shriner’s Club.
I saw a man talking to a group of suits. The man was wearing VERY casual business casual. He was unshaven and unkempt. He looked hungover with bloodshot eyes and was in a state of general disarray.
Most people at our company wear name tags, and since he wasn’t, I assumed he didn’t work for my company. I approached the group and walked straight up to him.
He finished his sentence and turned to me. He smiled and said “Hello. What can I do for you?”
He was very friendly and looked to be in his late 40s. I smiled back and said. “Can you tell me where the ladies’ bathroom is?”
The other men in the group looked taken aback. I assumed it was because I was a female, asking a male where the bathroom was. Or because women aren’t supposed to do such disgusting things like have bodily functions. A lot of men at my job act that way.
But the man I approached did not even bat an eye. He smiled even wider and said’ “You know what? I don’t know where it is. I’ve never had to use it. But let’s find it.”
He said goodbye to the group of suits and together he and I went into the building in search of the bathroom.
We very quickly found it and I felt a little better about walking through the crowds of men with an escort. I am not so shy these days. Plus, I am the boss now, so that helps.
After I used the facilities I headed back outside and took a seat in the picnic area, again, away from everyone.
And that’s when several people came over to me.
“What did you do?” Asked one.
“What did you say to him?” Asked another.
I was really confused. I still thought he was a janitor. He hadn’t introduced himself as anything other. Or seem offended to help me find a toilet. “I asked him where the bathroom was.”
The guys that had come over to me looked horrified. “Why would you ask him that?!”
This is where I should have realized something was up. But I didn’t. So I said “Because I had to pee.”
“But why HIM?”
“Why not him? I don’t get it. He was nice. He helped me find that bathroom. What’s the problem?”
I didn’t know who K was. I was still really new. I stared at them blankly.
They told me his last name. But I still didn’t know who that was. I replied “So?”
Then they explained. “He’s our boss’s boss’s boss. Like three levels above our level.” They were looking at me, expecting a reaction.
“Well, he was nice. And he helped me find the bathroom so who cares?”
I explained to them that I had thought he was a janitor. And they explained to me that the group of suits he’d been talking to were our company’s vice president, CEO and other such higher ups.
I kind of laughed and shrugged it off. I couldn’t change it now. K is currently my boss’s boss. He is still very cool and nice and I really like him. And I’m sure he still remembers me as the woman that interrupted his conversation because I had to pee.
That’s how I first got my reputation at this office as being both incredibly weird and having huge balls. I had that same reputation at my other office but for a different reason, which I will tell at some point.