The New Work Assignment—Anne Holmes
Gloria was excited about her new work assignment. She had just completed her first year at the Whatzit Corporation performing the World’s Most Tedious Job. It had been excruciating! After the first three months, she thought she would go insane. This was nothing like what she had expected. But she had struggled for so long to get a job that appeared to have some sort of growth potential that she was determined to persevere. Apparently her “nose to the grindstone” technique had been noticed by management and was about to pay off. She had been selected to work as a member of the new special Task Force team. This was a high visibility project.
The Whatzit Corporation was a curious place as far as Gloria was concerned. Even though this was the late 1980’s, Gloria was getting a clear 1950’s kind of vibe off the place. Well, it didn’t help that it was located in the burbs; that was probably a contributing factor. How could “things” change so quickly simply by traveling twenty or so miles out of the city Gloria mused.
The percentage of employees who were women was pretty small at the Whatzit Corporation. It was an engineering and manufacturing firm. The few women that were there held the more non-professional types of positions. And the way they would dress and act, not all of them, but a noticeable amount of them. Gloria’s assessment was that they were trolling for husbands. Really inappropriate clothing choices as far as she was concerned; they looked like they were going to a bar to pick up men. Not that Gloria was the Fashion Police or a prude or anything. But really now.
Apparently Gloria stuck out like a sore thumb in her gamine attire. One day a guy came up to her and said “You don’t live around here, do you.” Gloria said “No, I live in the city”. “I knew it” said the guy. “I can tell by the way you dress”. That’s weird, Gloria thought, but she was glad to know that she was not being mistaken for a local. Then another time a different guy said to her “You have a collegiate way of dressing. You don’t dress like the other women around here. Too funny, Gloria thought. Whatever. Such was life at the Whatzit Corporation.
In her new position, Gloria would get to utilize the new state of the art 3-D modeling computer application. The company was in the process of transitioning, so she would be in the first wave. Although group classes were available, Gloria’s manager thought it would be fine to just have her sit down with Bruce for one-on-one on-the-job training. Gloria had really good spatial ability and was looking forward to learning this application and trying it out.
Bruce was a strange fellow. The other guys in the group tolerated him. He wasn’t a total outcast; he wasn’t ostracized from the group or anything. I guess you’d say the other guys included him in that “guy thing” that they do to a certain extent, just enough so that Bruce would not perceive that maybe he was being left out.
Gloria soon discovered that Bruce had a curious way of interjecting personal anecdotes and other odd but benign comments when you’d least expect it, for example, right in the middle of training. She learned all sorts of things about him. She just listened slightly amused, didn’t encourage him and tried to get him back on track. And he was a capable enough instructor, so she did learn something.
One day Gloria bumped into her friend Sam.
“So how’s it going working with Bruce” Sam chuckled.
“Funny you should ask.”
“Is he acting a little strange, as though he feels threatened?”
“Well… I would have to say yes to that.”
“Heh heh, yeah, well, I used to work with him. He’s a character; a little insecure. He’s probably afraid you’re smarter than he is.”
“Well, that’s the way he’s acting alright.”
Gloria’s permanent seat was now next to Bruce so that she could ask him questions at anytime. This close proximity led to daily large doses of his comments which were becoming more and more annoying. Gloria was getting to know a little too much about Bruce, things like his musings on what various women would wear to work. Fortunately Gloria could go find Sam and vent a little when she had her fill of Bruce. Sam would listen and they would have a good chuckle about the situation. Talking to Sam was always helpful, he was a good friend.
The weeks flew by and the team managed to make its deadlines with the help of lots of overtime and coffee. Gloria found herself sleep deprived as was the case with most everyone. One day, midway through a demonstration, Bruce snuck in “Do you have high heels. Do you have four inch high heels.” In typical Bruce fashion he continued with the demonstration, he didn’t miss a beat.
Gloria sat in stunned silence, mouth gaping open and eyes bugged out. She was flabbergasted; what did he just say!? How did he get off making a comment like that at work. This was totally gross, did he think she was attractive or something…yuck! What was she going to do, or not do about it. Gloria stared off into space, thoughts drifting to another time and place as Bruce droned on and on… just think, someday she would be fifty years old… not working at a corporation… not working in the burbs… and retired…