Monday, April 12, 2010

'I am the Office Girl' - or - Heads up! It's Not the Forties Any More!

This post has a point to make, but I'll save that for the end.

First, I'll indulge in some reminiscences. These really do have something to do with this post's topic.

I am the Office Girl

Back in the late seventies, I worked for a company called Pellegrini Refrigeration. I was the only employee permanently stationed in their San Francisco plant. My job title was something like "general clerical:" I was responsible for taking messages, keeping things filed, copying blueprints as needed, tracking petty cash: that sort of thing.

I'd been told that there was a particular customer who had been calling rather regularly. The issue seemed to be that he'd received services, and didn't want to pay. Well, I could see his point: but Mr. Pellegrini had bills to pay, too.

Anyway, I'd been told what to say to him, so I wasn't at a loss when he called.

He didn't like the courteously-worded 'I can't do anything, talk to the main office' message I had. But, since there were multiple incoming lines and I'd been told to be polite, he and I had a mildly extended conversation.

Near the end of our dialog, he said, "look here, I've been talking to the office girl. Let me talk to the office girl." I replied, quite accurately, "I am the office girl."

It took him a second or two to respond. Then he said, "oh." Followed by another longish pause.

He addressed me as "sir" after that. And he never called again.

I think it might have something to do with my sounding quite a bit like James Earl Jones. The actor who played Thulsa Doom and was the voice of Darth Vader?

Why Talk To Me? She's the One Who Called

My wife's family are competent, and she's no exception. Let's put it this way. I'm the one with a computer, she's the one with power tools.

Sure, I can disassemble a lock - but I'm getting off-topic.

A few years ago, she noticed an issue with our home's electrical system and called an electrician. I have a notion she could have handled it herself, but the Sauk Centre city government is calmer when electrical work is done by someone with a license. I can see their point. I'm getting off-topic again.

So, the electrician comes. He and my wife are in the kitchen. I'm there too, just to see what was happening. (I've learned a lot by listening to technicians talk with other people.)

The electrician has a question. He asks me. Not my wife. She's closer to him, and started the discussion. But no, the electrician asks me a question.

I explain that I haven't a clue and ask my wife the same question. She replies. To the electrician. He doesn't respond. Until I tell him exactly what my wife told him.

After a while, we settled into a routine. The electrician said something, I'd tell my wife, she'd say something, I'd tell the electrician.

Hey, don't knock it: We got the job done.

And I think it's hilarious. My wife, not so much: but she sees the funny side of it.

Then there's the time, back in the day, when one of my sisters-in-law took shop class - that'll wait for another post. Maybe in another blog.

Got a Business, in America?

Guys? If you're a man and run a business, I'll tell you something you should already know. American women aren't any less competent than we are. Many of them stopped putting up quietly with male dimwits who hadn't caught on a long time ago.

I'm not on the same page as the bra-burners, but let's face it guys: America isn't an all-boys club.

Personally, I like it that way.

But even if you'd like the 'little women' to act like it was still pre-WWII America: that's not the way it is.

I played along with the electrician's cultural blinders because he had the skills and certification we needed. And because I don't mind adapting to cultural norms, when I can.

But not everybody's like that.

Never mind the chance of a discrimination or abuse lawsuit: does anybody in business want to lose the customers?


Brigid said...

The sentence does seem to like the word 'the': "Never the mind the chance of a discrimination or abuse lawsuit: does anybody in business want to lose the customers?"

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Oh, my. Yeah: That's sloppy editing on my part. Fixed, and thanks.

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