As a woman in the workforce in this era you have no idea how much better you have it. When I was young and in college trying to work to pay my tuition it seemed I ran into a caveman at least once a month. As my career advanced the cavemen were still there, but the laws were changing rapidly so they had to evolve or risk losing their jobs.
If you think you have a job with a caveman for a boss, keep reading.
My first job was when I was fourteen years old. I barely remember it because I only lasted for 2 weeks. It was a summer job working at a flower nursery. I picked daffodils and watered the greenhouses. The owner of the nursery was Dutch, and old and a caveman. He delighted in sneaking up on the new girl, me, and jumping out and yelling at the top of his lungs to scare me. It worked every time. He thought it was hilariously funny and would double over in laughter. I found it nerve racking so when week two rolled around I stayed in bed instead of making it to the nursery on time at 5AM.
Another summer job to pay for college was painting houses. I was an excellent painter. My car was always on the mend so my boss offered to let me ride to work with him until I could get it fixed. I waited for him on the curb in the mornings. One morning he said we should skip work and just spend the day in my apartment. I quit that job too.
I did a summer working for a cookie company stocking shelves in various stores with their product. Some days I worked on my own and others I assisted the regular salesman. One guy liked to tell me stories about his college days, mainly how he used to get caught masturbating using a sock filled with talcum powder and all of the other sexual conquests he managed before getting tied down with a wife.
Then one day I was riding along with one of the older salesman when he informed me we would be spending the night out in a hotel. He was laughing when he told me we were only allowed to get one room. I did not think it was funny. Staying anywhere overnight was news to me so when we got to the first store, which was two hours from home, I used the payphone to call the office to ask if this was true. It was true, but we were getting two rooms. I conveyed my fear and disappointment about the way the salesman had delivered the news and was told to get over it.
I did not go back to work for them again the next summer.
After college I got a career-minded job. I had been working for this company for quite a while. I was their number one manager for work execution and considered a valuable manager. Then they hired a bonehead regional manager whose claim to fame was that he played football in college.
He wanted to micromanage and used intimidation as his method. In talking with my colleagues I was able to deduce that the only people suffering from his wrath were the women managers. One lady was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He would write scathing emails and leave screaming voicemails until one afternoon I called the company ombudsman.
Then it became war.
Unbeknownst to me, he got wind of it. He arranged for us to have lunch to discuss my work strategy and pulled a Jerry Maguire. He fired me in a busy restaurant. He tried to get me to sign papers that stated I was a lousy employee and I refused. He then took my company car keys and left me stranded in the restaurant parking lot with no cab fare. And it was raining!! I used the payphone to call the ombudsman with this latest development.
The proverbial shit hit the fan.
Even though I will make this long story very short please know that this was a long, drawn out ordeal. My female colleagues were grilled by this manager and put in fear of losing their jobs if they supported me. In the end, the company CEO called me to personally apologize for this manager’s behavior. The manager and his supervisor that approved his trip to behead me, were both fired and I was offered my job back.
After working for this company I had loved for seven years and having this happen, I was devastated. No amount of money or promise could ever make me put myself in that position again. Besides while my beloved company was working out their kinks, the competition found me, so when they made the offer for me to come back I was already happily working for another company that was owned and operated by women. It was a good move for me.
A few years after that I made another career move and accepted a national post with another new company. I thought this job would be a gravy position but it ended up being burnt toast. It seemed this company had hired every caveman that had ever needed a job and I didn’t find out how deep it went until I was hired. It was a caveman kingdom and I was the only woman on the payroll in management!
One guy was resentful he didn’t get the promotion he thought he deserved so he was the office gossip/turncoat. Another guy resented me because hiring me meant I took over his travel responsibilities, which put him at home with the wife and kids, a place he wasn’t thrilled to be. Another guy was so busy test-driving new Mercedes to get the free Monte Blanc pens that he didn’t even do his job half the time. The big boss was busy hiring town cars to drive him around when he traveled, staying in five star hotels and padding his expense account.
I ended up caught in the middle of a passive aggressive tug of war between the guy that was supposed to be my manager and another guy that kept telling me what to do. After a few months no one was talking to me at all because they were so busy undermining each other. I was hanging in limbo. Then they decided they didn’t need me anymore so they eliminated my position altogether without even letting me know what was going on. The decision was so slap-happy that I was told about it in the airport in Orlando, FL.
I was actually relieved. The company bit the dust completely a year later.
If you hadn’t guessed already the working world used to be filled to the brim with cavemen. Women in any kind of professional capacity had to be strong in order to survive. I’m the kind of woman that learned at an early age to stand up for my beliefs and to stand up for myself. Cavemen don’t cotton to those kind of women and back then they could get away with murderous behavior in the workplace. It was incorrigible what was allowed and thought to be the norm.
As you read through my trials you will be able to see the trends changing and the rules and regulations that became available to us in order to take on the cavemen and beat them at their chauvinistic game. It took many years, but these days it’s almost impossible for a caveman to get away with even the smallest transgression without suffering severe consequences.
Cavemen are becoming a thing of the past and the women of the workplace are watching with glee as they disappear.
I resigned from an executive position once to change my career to something happening at the time that was lucrative and part of my earlier ambitions. I was unaware that I had been working for the Sopranos until my former boss called me at home and told me I couldn’t quit because he needed me. “Wassa matta? You donn need munny or sumpthin?”
Well gee, let’s review.
1. You had me fire people because you were too much of a coward to do it. Then you’d hire them back when they asked for unemployment.
2. You enjoyed playing one employee against the other, made the older ladies cry when you pointed out their wrinkles or weight problems and you delighted in saying the girls in the back office “weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer”.
3. You got royally pissed at me when I hired a pregnant receptionist. You replaced her with a 19 year old that liked to wear mini skirts but never showed up to work on time, if at all. Then you had me fire her.
4. When I hired the next receptionist I got called on the carpet again because she was black and “not the image you wanted to project on the front desk”.
Sometimes stupidity and testosterone are a lethal combination.
Hmmmm…nope, not coming back.
I worked professionally until we moved to Texas. I worked part time then, and even though I wasn’t on a career path some cavemen still squeezed into the picture.
One manager took his redneck tendencies a bit too far for my comfort. At a breakfast meeting this manager and another one of my male colleagues were making plans to meet with one of the account executives to work in the field together. “Lunch will be at Bone Daddy’s!” he exclaimed. Bone Daddy’s is a bar/restaurant with a Hooteresque theme. I thought it was inappropriate and I said so. He replied, very snidely, that if I didn’t like it I didn’t have to come.
A week later all three of us were riding together on the way to an account when he reaches below his seat and produces a handgun. “Take a look at this baby!” I nearly pissed my pants.
Several incidents and sexist remarks later my tolerance for his behavior had reached an end. I called HR and reported him. He was fired. I happily worked for this company part time until they disbursed the part time team.
You see, even part time employees get respect these days.
Like I said, women have no idea the trails that were blazed by those of us that had the invisible balls to stand up to these creeps in the workplace. The invisible ceiling is slowly melting away and women are now seen as the valuable assets they always were.
Maybe it was a generational thing and most of the cavemen are dying off? I don’t think so. One of my friends is suffering from the affects of cavemen mentality right now. I advised her to start keeping a journal of the incidents she has described to me. No woman in the workplace should have to suffer these kinds of insults.
Maybe it was a genetic flaw that is slowly correcting itself? There’s much to be applauded in the hope of evolution! Let’s hope the cavemen left in this world are too stupid to pass on their lack of wisdom. Let’s continue to support the laws governing fair and equal treatment in the workplace and demand respect and equal pay from our male colleagues.
Don’t ever think it’s okay for a man to be disrespectful to you at work, because it is not okay. Know your rights!
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