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Nov 19 2013

As Expected

My rather ridiculous medical crisis punted The Talk with my supervisor, but it we finally had it on Sunday. It went as expected.

Image shows a kitten with its paw up, with the caption "High 5!!!"

Actually, we only had half The Talk, because he’d spent (part of) the weekend thinking of how the projector time could be made fair, and came up with a plan that allows everyone to take a turn, whilst allowing the top performers on our team extra turns based on stats. Everybody wins: he’s got an extra way to incentivize us, and we’ve now got a system where everybody gets a chance to subject the team to their entertainment tastes. We’re better off than we were before, when it was random and led to conflict and didn’t give our supervisor new ways to ensure we stay in the lead. That’s something I wish more people would understand when these issues come up: when you face them head-on, when you think them through, you can so often find ways to not only make things fair, but improve them for everyone. Everybody wins.

And this, my friends, is why my supervisor has been in the #1 slot in call center stats for nearly a year straight. He’s not afraid to look at a situation that needs to be fixed, fix it, but also add some additional bells and whistles.

So The Talk began with me thanking him for doing that. Then we had the Transphobia Talk, which went something like this:

Me: I know you weren’t intending it to, but your funny story came across somewhat transphobic. Don’t want you to run into problems. We’ve got folks who’re either transsexual or know someone who is, and transsexual people, especially male-to-female, suffer a lot of violence.

Him: Oops. Didn’t mean it to come across that way. I’ll be more careful in the future. Have I ever told you about the time I lived on Capitol Hill*?

The Talk abruptly segued into how to focus the story on the funny elements, then the weirdness that is Capitol Hill, and then points beyond. Somewhere, we came up with a faboo reality teevee show idea starring Charles Manson being faced with the fact that the race war he preached ain’t never gonna happen**, and then we discussed what we were going to do for the Morale Captain cape I’m making for the team, and that was that. He understands me, I understand him, we have improved things that need improving, and if we can sell our teevee idea to TLC or similar, we can abandon the call center life forever.

I always try to prepare for the worst-case scenario when it comes to this sort of thing, but it’s usually not that bad. At least here in Seattle, the majority of people are more than willing to hear you out and make necessary changes. And if it comes to a fight, I’ve got plenty of people in my corner, cheering me on (not to mention you lot – you’re one of the best cheering sections in the Known Universe). It’s a city full of people who’ve spent time on the wrong side of at least one privilege, and who haven’t forgotten what empathy is. I can always count on enough progressives with the willingness to endure a bit of temporary pain in pursuit of improvement that I’m rarely alone, albeit usually the most vocal, when it comes to these sorts of challenges.

That’s why I bloody love this city. It could be so very, very much worse.

As for B and I… well, we exchange pleasantries at work. I don’t know that we’ll ever get beyond that. That hurts to a ridiculous degree, that we should lose each other over something like this, but his reaction to my plan of action was that pointy bit of ice above the waterline. More to it than the visible bit. More damage than expected from what was on the surface. So it goes. That’s something that happens, in these situations, where a minor event is a catalyst. It’s not the thing and the whole of the thing, could’ve been shrugged off if the bit floating on top was all there was to it, but it wasn’t, and so you end up with a suddenly-sunken ship and a lot of people wondering what-the-fuck. It’s a risk you take, and honestly, if an event like this sends a friendship to the bottom of the sea, it was headed there long before the final collision.

Was it worth the risk? Of course. I prefer honesty to superficially comfortable fiction. Fuck, if I wanted to live a happy lie, I’d still believe in gods, now, wouldn’t I?

Thank you all for the cyberhugs and encouragement and enthusiastic cheering. Thank you for inspiring me, and being there, and being the bit of solid ground a person needs to stand on when applying a lever to a world that’s so often a pain in the arse to move.

Thank you for being you.

And thank you for being courageous enough to put a hand to the lever and push with me. We can do this. Together.

 

 

*Put it like this: if you’ve got any sort of phobia when it comes to sex and gender, you’re probably not going to survive living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood for more than fifteen minutes or so.

**Copyright 2013 me and my supervisor. All rights reserved.

 

9 comments

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  1. 1
    katybe

    Congratulations on having such a great supervisor, sorry B doesn’t get it.

  2. 2
    Al Dente

    Seconding katybe @1.

  3. 3
    rq

    Your supervisor is awesome – I love how he’d already thought about things, before you even had the talk with him!
    Yeah, still sorry B doesn’t get it. It’s so simple to some people (your soup), and so difficult for others (B), and I don’t understand why, because they receive the same facts, the same advice, they see the same things… I guess it’s all in past experiences, ingrained culturality and how these things are processed internally.
    *hugs* and you rock!!!

  4. 4
    Trebuchet

    Good work, Dana. By standing up, you’ve made a difference.

    And I got so distracted by the adorable pink paw pads I almost forgot to read the article.

  5. 5
    moarscienceplz

    Dana, I think you’ve planted a seed in B. And just as a tiny acorn can grow into an oak that can split open granite boulders, your little seed might in time burst open the granite walls of unseen privilege. In any case, ya done good! Kudos!

  6. 6
    Lithified Detritus

    Glad to know that things are at least somewhat better.

    Life is messy, and it’s true that it is usually better to face problems head-on rather than let them fester. I’ve found this to be particularly true when I screw up – acknowledge the mistake, apologize, and move on. Your boss sounds like a rare bird – a management type who actually is able to do this.

    Stay strong.

  7. 7
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Hey, nice work there, you and the supervisor. That’s awesome. I hope B gets through their thing and comes ’round.

  8. 8
    Amphigorey

    More cheering from this corner.

    Sometimes it’s harder to push back against the microaggressions and little everyday sexisms precisely because they are small. You’re made to feel like an overreacting fool for even noticing it, let alone speaking up about it. This is built into the system, of course; you aren’t overreacting and you’re certainly not a fool. but it’s much better for the system and those in power if you don’t speak up.

    And if you ever do feel like you’re overreacting, turn it around: If it’s not a big deal, why don’t those guys just let up on the parade of dudeliness? If it’s not a big deal, why not just make this tiny accommodation and move on?

    Somehow, they never think of it from that angle. It’s always the woman, or the PoC, who has to make the accommodation.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear it worked out for the better on all sides. I’m sorry B hasn’t figured it out, but you know, if he’s this easily disturbed by such a small event, then he needs to do a lot of thinking before he’s worthy of your time.

  9. 9
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    TOES~♥

    *smooths fur, attempts to look dignified*

    I mean, way to go!

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