Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Don't Call Me Sweetheart Anymore!

Funny that I was writing here yesterday about what a pleasant work environment I now had!

Today a fellow temp worker (graphics guy to my editing; he just started 3 weeks ago while I've been there for 5 months) and I got into a spat because he wasn't doing a procedure right and was telling an even newer person to do the thing HIS (wrong) way. When I corrected him and told the newer person the right way to do the procedure, the graphics guy grumbled and snorted for a bit, then stormed off saying back over his shoulder: "Don't pick a fight with me, Sweetheart!"

How condescending! Luckily, after 46 years, I have a tiny bit of experience being condescended to, so I immediately called back loudly after him: "YOU picked the fight with ME, HONEY-BUNCH!"

I've never been spoken to like that in a workplace.

I HAVE been called "Sweetheart" and "Honey"--in a rude way--maybe twice before: Once by a younger-than-me dyke in an Austin deli, once by a New York-guy in a NYC deli. In both cases, I gave what I think is a perfect response--calling THEM sarcastically by a "pet" name in return. (The Austin dyke just looked at me; the NYC guy stereotypically said, "Hey, sister, don't give me a hard time!" Somehow, the "sister" thrown in there made it clear that he just didn't know any better, so I cut him a little slack for being a working-class guy. The dyke, though, had no excuse for condescending to another woman, especially one older than herself.)

That's all fine from a stranger in a deli, but it's disturbing to have a co-worker talk to you like that. Obviously, he wouldn't have spoken to me in that way if I'd been a regular employee and he wasn't. I'm curious about what made him feel it was OK to talk like that to me: Just doesn't like women? (Seriously, if a more-experienced male co-worker had explained to him that people here didn't work off the desktop, would he have argued with him to begin with, much less making a snarky "Sweetheart" comment?) Doesn't like having an opinion challenged? (Again, what if it had been a male co-worker explaining the correct way to do something? Would THAT have been perceived as somehow "challenging" the guy? And entailed the snarky response?)

Next-day post-script: Being a temp, I certainly didn't want to make any waves at a workplace I like and want to invite me back. But I'll be damned if I let someone speak to me like that. What I did yesterday was send my boss an e-mail asking for confirmation of the correct way to do the procedure that caused the argument. And I threw in the aside that the graphics guy had gotten upset and called me "Sweetheart"... She responded via e-mail with the procedure, which I forwarded to the new person who had initially asked. But she didn't mention the "Sweetheart" bit... Until today, when she asked me to come to her office... Uh-oh!

When I got there, she basically started off with, "No, he didn't!" And then we spent 15 minutes trying to figure out what his problem was! :) I mean, she had real solutions as to how to get him up to speed on procedures, but we also commiserated as women about the piss-poor attitude! :) Seriously--the guy is working in a primarily female environment; a female environment with lots of 30/40-something women who have advanced degrees and are very bright and well-paid and not tending to take kindly to being spoken to like a waitress. What in the hell was he thinking mouthing off like that?

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