Green(ish) Life: Work/Life Balance Drama!

I haven’t had a good ol’ fashioned RANT here on the blog recently…but it’s not good to hold things in (“don’t act out, don’t repress), so here it goes: Now, I try to keep things positive for the most part, but some incidents happened at work yesterday that got me a little (ok, a LOT) steamed.

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With James having started daycare on Monday, and all the extra time I’ve made sure to give myself in the morning, I’ve ended up getting to work early a few days this week. Upon arriving early yesterday, I quickly checked in with a [fellow person who I work with who shall for purposes of this post be heretofore referred to as Mr. Sensitive….as in NOT] to follow-up with one of the (many) things I had been waiting to hear back from him on. Well, my smiling face was obviously not what he wanted to see first thing, and I got the usual snarly tone in reply, which I tried (as usual) not to take personally and abruptly removed myself from the situation (aka left him alone).

Back in my office, I realized I should probably do the first pumping of the day before my coworker (who shares my office) got in. Unfortunately, he arrived mid-pump, but he simply waited patiently out in the common area for me to finish. Naturally, Mr. Sensitive saw this and immediately sent me a self-righteous email pointing out that with my door closed, my coworker couldn’t access his computer….implying that our one-sided nasty exchange was the reason I was cloistered away, that I was obviously behind the door being female and sensitive (so…he recognized that he was rude?). Now, Mr. Sensitive knows full well that I’m pumping, it was ok’d before I even returned to work* (not that anyone has to give the ok to me feeding my child), and the reason this specific coworker was chosen to share my office was because he’s part-time, out in the field a lot and a really nice guy who totally understands. Of course, I replied via email (WHILE pumping…because I actually do productive things like answer emails, make phone calls, work on grants, while pumping) that 1. when my door is closed, I’m pumping (see the blatant sign above that hangs on my door), that 2. I am aware that my coworker can’t get to his computer if he can’t get in the office (duh) and 3. that if I need to decompress, I’ll take a walk. No reply.

As the day went on, I noticed Mr. Sensitive laughing and joking with every other person in the office. How interesting that the rudeness was only directed at me! So I waited a while and then approached him to, maturely, acknowledge that he was very busy (aren’t we all!) and ask if there was something I had done that bothered him? I think I caught him off-guard because he immediately acted like “oh no, you’re not bothering me”  and suggested that sometimes I just seem to react to things when he simply answers my questions in a way that I don’t want to hear. Uhhh…nope. I pointed out that it wasn’t WHAT he said but HOW – his tone was dismissive and really implied irritation. “I don’t get irritated!” he proudly proclaimed. But interestingly enough, as the conversation went on, the reasons for his irritation came out.

The discussion was not going as he wanted – usually he succeeds in mentally intimidating me to the point where I just walk off, aka he “wins.” But I was determined to stand my ground. It was NOT a case of me just being “sensitive” (a word he LOVES to use when describing my reaction to his behavior). So he brought out the ace in his pocket – how he “noticed” that I DARED to take an hour-long lunch break on Wednesday to go to…wait for it…YOGA!

When Mr. Sensitive pointed out my horrible self-centered lunchtime snafu (because work should be your first priority, over your health, family, personal life in general, etc) and how I couldn’t possibly be getting in my 40-hours-a-week “required” by working salary, he was so obviously pleased with himself I wanted to, frankly, throw him in the River. Instead, I calmly pointed out that I had arrived 30 minutes early 3x this week, one being THAT MORNING WHEN I WAS TALKING TO HIM. His reply “I didn’t notice.” Well of course not! Why notice when someone does something good? What would be the fun in that? He also brought up some offhand, conversational comment I apparently made to an office visitor upon returning from yoga that I “was busy.” Yes, you’re following his ridiculous train of thought correctly: In short, I was a crappy employee because I took the time to actually leave my desk for lunch once a week and mention that things around the office were “busy” (and was obviously LYING about coming in early in order to reach that magical 40 hours).

At this point I was furiously blinking back tears. I couldn’t believe he was trying to take YOGA away from me. Number 1: As a new mom who no longer has time to do ANYTHING for herself (oh, besides showering, maybe peeing), and never sleeps unless she’s scrunched awkwardly next to a splayed-out 20-lb baby, yoga is very much-needed. Not just physically (for my back) but mentally (lack of sleep = lack of concentration). Not to mention,  when I get back from yoga I am relaxed and PRODUCTIVE AS HELL! I tried to point this out along with the fact that I usually WORK through lunch. His reply? “I find that people aren’t productive when eating at their desks.” WHAT?! Did he win a grant and do a scientific study? I eat constantly all day (gotta keep those calories up for pumping…), so I must not get ANYTHING done!

Seeing that I was slowly and surely becoming more and more demoralized, he gleefully picked up steam and suggested that if I was so “busy” and overwhelmed (when did I even say that I was??), that perhaps I should be working MORE HOURS in order to get everything done! I’m not going to make this rant any longer by listing everything I do on a day-to-day basis (and he knows goddamn well that I’m a little powerhouse), but he also knows goddamn well that I CAN’T stay late (unless planned ahead of time), because I have to pick James up at daycare/feed him/put him to bed…But because Mr. Sensitive happens to be one of those sad folks that chooses to work evenings and weekends, well that must mean he’s a better worker, heck, a better PERSON than me.

I’m sorry (aka NOT sorry), but as someone who has worked many corporate jobs and managed many people, the employees I’m MOST suspicious of are the ones who work evenings and weekends – in my opinion they appear inefficient, disorganized and unproductive…that they OBVIOUSLY dropped the ball somewhere. Why else does it take them that long to finish what they should be accomplishing in 40 hours? Work accomplishments speak louder than simply the number of hours worked, right?

So, as usual, I stumbled back to my office, feeling lower than shit. A short time later I had to pump again, but my office-mate was having a meeting with a coworker, and although I knew THEY wouldn’t care in the least, I just didn’t have the heart anymore to ask them politely to leave. So I gathered my pump, walked past everyone (including Mr. Sensitive, who had joyfully emerged from his office to joke with another coworker) and loudly announced that I was going downstairs to pump. “Downstairs” meaning a non-private, back corner that was freezing and full of bagged-up garbage. A perfect conclusion!

When I came back upstairs, one of my awesome female coworkers came into my office (which was empty by this time) to express how much she admired what I was doing and asked how could she help. Well, at that point I became “girl-who’s-crying-at-work-and-keeps-apologizing-for-it” to which she was so nice and sympathetic. We decided together that a good solution (at least to the pumping situation) was that SHE would move into my office with me instead of my nice male coworker. This way she could have the privacy she needed and I wouldn’t have to kick anyone out when I pumped. And then, she offered to approach Mr. Sensitive for me and present the plan. I literally could have kissed her I was so grateful!

So THAT part of the drama found a solution, but the ongoing disrespect from Mr. Sensitive has, as of yet, not. And this is not a new situation. It actually came to a head last year before I went on maternity leave, with the board getting involved…it was awkward (not to mention, obviously pointless). I know I may be sounding paranoid, but I suspect that he’s keeping tabs on my hours/time away from the office for some nefarious reason…he knows I’m a good worker and that I produce quality work at an amazing pace…but if he can prove that I’m somehow not maintaining the “requirements” of working on salary, he may be able to cut into my pay? I don’t know, but this gal LOVES her job (aside from Mr. Sensitive) and is NOT going down without a FIGHT!

But, oh shit, like Leslie the Lady Hunter said…”This would NOT have happened if I had a penis…I’m good at tolerating pain, I’m bad at math and I’m STUPID.” Girl-power!

*NY State law actually REQUIRES employers to provide a private, sanitary space for working moms to pump. Unfortunately, this law only applies to places that employ 50+ people – a little fact that I’m sure Mr. Sensitive is well aware of and just waiting, like a snake in the grass, to throw in my face if I ever DARE point it out.

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2 responses to “Green(ish) Life: Work/Life Balance Drama!

  1. Pingback: Debate vs. Argument: Improving Upon the Silence | A Green(ish) Life·

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