Thursday, November 13, 2008

Get Your Own Frickin' Coffee

He was talking about the frustration of having a diverse student body in engineering training classes.

"Some of the students are clerical and they just thought it would be an interesting class. But it's not beneficial to have these discussions with clerks." He patted my back, "No offense Christina."
Because we had company in the form of a high-ranking customer, I tried to minimize my outwardly expressed horror. I'm not sure I succeeded. I turned toward him, the People's Eyebrow aloft, leaning back in repulsion. "Umm," I said.

"Not that you're a clerk," he corrected himself, too late.

"No. No, I'm not," I said with a fake smile.

"Christina's been around this material long enough, she could be an engineer," he overcompensated, once again.

"That's right," a woman who has recently befriended me chimed in, "She certainly could."

I interrupted their stumbling and directed a comment to our audience in reference a point the customer had just made, citing a recent on-the-ground example. I tried to deflect. It makes me tired.

I haven't been a "clerk" since my first job out of college when I was really more like the small Armenian's indentured servant. I drove his cars and he paid for my gas and cell phone; I pretended to enjoy kayaking in his backyard and being spat upon my his spoiled daughter. He asked every inappropriate question in the book and criticized my newspaper-folding abilities. It did not last long.

It's difficult enough to be one of few women in an office or an industry, but I've mostly gotten used to that. It's not unusual for me to be the only woman in a room. But that fact, coupled with my nontechnical title and work, seems to equal in many male minds, an only slightly glorified secretary. There's nothing wrong with that title or job, but it's a far cry from mine.

1 comment:

EL said...

3 posts in Nov - hey, you go. someone must have really come down hard on you, haha! Enjoyed reading though, hope you are able to keep it up:)

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