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Date Posted: 03:19:04 04/07/16 Thu
In reply to: Ms. Gertrude to Inferior Males 's message, "Realization" on 17:47:36 03/06/16 Sun
A very good topic. I realized I was inferior to a woman when I was working in a government office for several years doing administration work. When I started there were three guys, I replaced one who left, and seven women. And there was the supervisor who was a man. After a few of years, one by one, the men left and were replaced by women until I was the only male in the office other than the supervisor. I was by then one of the senior members of the office other than a couple of older ladies who were content working toward retirement. I was then 36 years old and had been around long enough that I was either older or had been working in the office longer than most of the women. As one of the more experienced and senior members of the office, the women liked me and looked up to me, with the exception of one or two who I think resented my popularity and attributed it simply to my being male. My wife often expressed concern over what she said was my lack of ambition for staying in an office where there seemed to be no opportunities for advancement. She herself, over the same span of years, had pursued and won several promotions until she was a senior Deputy Director in her department, making a much greater salary than mine. Even though I wanted to make more money and thought I deserved a promotion, I was content to stay where I was comfortable, well liked, and admired by most of my co-workers. Eventually though, the male supervisor moved on and his position became available. However, the wheels of government turn slow and it would be many months before a competition process would be set up to fill the vacancy. In the meantime, as was common practice, someone in the office would be chosen to fill the position on an interim basis as Acting/Supervisor. To the chagrin of one or two, most of the women in the office were pleased and supported me when I was appointed to the acting position. Finally, I was getting my due and could show the world what I was about. My wife was delighted and said she was proud of me. I was so puffed when she demonstrated her new found respect for my accomplishment with renewed attention and affection. She urged me to use this opportunity wisely. The experience and exposure I would gain by doing the job on an interim basis, she said, would give me a leg-up on anyone else who might apply for the permanent position. In these cases, she advised, the job almost always went to the person already in the acting role. I was so hopeful. However, the job of supervisor proved more difficult than I had ever imagined, and even though I didn't want to admit it to myself or my wife, I struggled with my new and greater responsibilities. And though I would have strongly denied it at the time, I now realize, as does my wife, that unlike her I am not a natural leader in any sense of the word. I had confused being liked with being a leader and my supervisory style was to be easy-going and a friend to my under workers, rather than a strong, decisive superior. When the women had a problem with some particular aspect of their work, they would find in me a caring sympathetic ear offering a promise to try and solve the situation. But they found that the problem never got solved and soon realized that I was unwilling or unable to fix it. Despite their fondness of me, this lack of leadership soon led to frustration and tension in the office between those who wanted to help me and those who wanted to undermine me. These were, for the most part, smart, outspoken and capable women and the lack of leadership from the supervisor left a vacuum in the office, which the women themselves rushed to fill. Some attempted to be unofficial co-supervisors, by constantly offering suggestions that I might want to try, while others, those who were more pissed off, would deliberately create situations where I would have to publicly stumble and bumble to respond, demonstrating to everyone present my obvious weakness and inadequacies. There became, even among those who genuinely liked me, a universal resentment in the office of my leadership, or lack thereof. I guess this resentment and a correlating drop in office efficiency eventually, came to the attention of the higher-ups who took note. Despite the realization deep inside, which I was far from willing to admit to myself at the time, that I had no idea how to be a leader, I was able to continue to delude myself that everything was going fine. I assured my wife, much to her delight, that I was certain that I would win the competition for the permanent position ...I would just have to show up and it would be mine! But I knew all wasn't well and I continued along my confused and mistake-ridden way, chronically procrastinating and dithering when firm and decisive leadership was required. Shortly before I took over the acting supervising job, a young woman was hired for our office by the outgoing supervisor. She was just out of college and was only 22 years old. I was 36 and had worked in the office for ten years. She was attractive, well-educated, intelligent, friendly and composed. I'll call her Annika. She had a definite air of confidence that she was going places...and knew it. She was bright, a fast learner, willing to take on any job and help out anywhere with a smile and a friendly spirit. She soon became popular and well liked in the office. Overcoming her lowly position on the seniority list, she quickly learned all the jobs in the office and became somewhat of a trouble shooter for problem spotting and coming up with a solution. And despite her young years and lack of experience, she slowly and quietly took me under her wing. She tried to show me ways to be more efficient and less procrastinating, and I did manage to make as she called it,'tiny' progress, under her tutelage, although far from it being noticed by anyone at this point. She didn't seem to mind helping me even though it meant additional work for her with no monitory gain, in fact, she was quite eager to assist me with my duties. She took over and expertly completed many of the tasks that I found too complicated and overwhelming to face. She handled them with skill and confidence, often working late, and letting me take the credit for it. We became very close, although not in a romantic way as I loved my wife and she quickly let me know, even though she didn't have to, that she was not interested in that kind of a relationship with me. When the time came to compete for the permanent position, despite my many deficiencies, I still thought, and hoped, that I had the inside track on winning the job. In government work, often unqualified and incompetent people get promoted. I figured I had some good things going for me, I was already doing the job, and I had an excellent adviser/tutor in Annika who was going to show me how and what to study for the exam and interview. Even though the identity of the participants in a competition was supposed to be confidential, many openly admit they are candidates for a certain job. It soon became known that two women in the office, who had been critical of me, and a woman from another office, who I knew slightly, were also trying for the job. I wasn't too worried about them because I knew they had never done the job and didn't know the ins and outs enough to win. However, just before the competition process was to begin, it came out via the grapevine that Annika had applied as well. I was shocked and confronted her, expressing my disappointment with what I considered a betrayal. I asked why she hadn't told me. She said I had enough on my mind and didn't want to distract me. Besides, she said, she was the newest and youngest member of the office and had been in her job less than six months. I had nothing to worry about, she assured me, with her age and lack of experience, there was no way she was going to be picked. She told me she had only applied to gain knowledge about the process for some future occasion. I wouldn't deny her that learning experience, would I? I said no. She smiled. And aren't I still helping you with your studies? Yes, I admitted. Then get to work and stop worrying, she insisted. I agreed. She smiled again.
I worried the whole two weeks it took for the committee to announce the winner. When the time came I sat at my supervisor's desk and opened the envelope that had come in the office mail. I knew what it contained the results of the competition...and I dreaded opening it. Eventually, I tore it open and read the letter. My heart sunk. I had not been chosen. Then my heart nearly stopped when I read the words: We are very pleased to announce, the successful candidate is ANNIKA WILSON. The name jumped out of the page and I gasped for air. It went on: We trust you will join us in offering heartiest congratulations to Ms. Wilson, who was an impressive and worthy candidate. We welcome her to her new position, and know she will be successful and prove a great asset to our department. And then to me: Thank you for participating. That was it.
The next day I was returned to the main office at my old position and pay level. I was back working with the women, not as their superior, but as their equal. The women subtly let me know they no longer felt the same towards me and rumors circulated that it was the general opinion in the office that I got a humbling and more than well deserved 'come-uppance' in the result of the competition. The outcome was considered just retribution for the trouble I had put the women through pretending that I was any kind of a supervisor. My leadership was thought of as a joke and they were more than pleased with the way it turned out in the end. Now I could stop pretending and get on with doing the same job at the same level as before. I was devastated to learn all this. I also came to realize, not surprisingly, that the women loved having Annika as their supervisor. She was firm but fair, knowledgeable, confident and decisive... everything you'd want in a leader they let it be known, and everything I was not. Much to the approval of the women, despite our former close relationship, Annika carefully treated me in exactly the same way she treated the others. No special favors or acknowledgement. She remained warm and friendly to me, and we talked privately now and then in the elevator or in the lunch room when we were alone. But it was not the same as before, and I understood, in her new position, she would not allow herself to appear to have any favorites in the office. She treated me the same as the others and kept a pleasant but rather cool distance from me, unless discussing my work. The women loved it..and loved her for it. As supervisor, she got the genuine respect and admiration that so alluded me in that position.
When my wife learned I didn't win the supervisor's job, she was lived and berated me for lack of effort, lack of confidence, lack of whatever she could come up with...and there was no shortage of that. She took a breath and demanded to know my side of it, although whatever I said she would have none of it, and continued to chastise me. When she finally calmed enough to ask who did win the job, and I told her Annika Wilson, she yelled, 'Who the heck is that? She insisted on knowing all about this Annika and was beside herself when she learned the details. She screamed, 'You mean to tell me you let a 22 year old college girl beat you out of that position when you've been working there for ten years. That is pathetic...truly! And I had such high expectations for once. What am I going to do with you? You're hopeless.' My attempts to say I'm sorry fell on deaf ears. She continued to fume until at last, she reached for her phone, and staring at me, said, 'I can't believe it. I'm calling Mother. Wait til she hears this. I can imagine what she'll have to say about you.' I had to sit and listen for the next hour and a half to the one way conversation between my wife and her mother discussing my failures.
After several months on the job, Annika was chosen to attend a four month course for top managers. One of the women in the office who had tried for the supervisor's position was appointed the acting supervisor during Annika's absence. I have to admit that I had been feeling defeated and a little depressed and my work suffered because of it. Annika had spoken to me several times and the women had complained to her about my lack of effort in the office. Annika sympathized but warned me she would have to do something if I didn't snap out of it and start to pull up my socks. She monitored my work as much as she could and gave me clever little hints to help me, but by the time she left for her course, I was still struggling. Once my co-worker took over as supervisor, she and a couple of the other women made a concerted effort have me dismissed from my position as being lazy, incompetent and a drain on office efficiency. They began to carefully document my every shortcoming, in their opinion, and press higher-ups for my dismissal. Eventually, much to the women's satisfaction, I was given a pending dismissal notice. But the process was very lengthy and by the time it came through, Annika was back. I was relieved as I hadn't yet told my wife and wasn't looking forward to it. I hoped that Annika could do something for me. As it turned out, before she left for her course Annika had made arrangements, although no one in the office knew about it, to create two new office assistants' positions at a subordinate and lower pay level. This was to help out the women and me, relieving us of some of the more mundane and repetitious of our duties such as photocopying, filing, sorting and delivering the mail, cleaning and maintaining the lunchroom, making the morning and afternoon coffee, and serving tea and coffee and snacks during office meetings. The women were delighted when they learned of the new assistants and it made them love Annika even more. Annika called me into her office and told me that even though I had begun to do slightly better in my work, unfortunately, she couldn't stop my dismissal as it had already been accepted before she got back. It could not be reversed, she lamented. I was devastated, I started to tremble and even began to cry. Annika came around her desk and sat beside me and gave me a hug to console me. I asked her what was I going to do without a job and what would I tell my wife? Annika smiled and wiped a tear from my cheek. She told me, while she couldn't get my old job back, there was already a woman from another office scheduled to fill my position next week and she was highly recommended, Annika beamed, however, she had the authority to appoint me to one of the two new junior positions she had created. She carefully explained that they were assistant positions and junior to my present job with substantially less salary and prestige to them. She said that was the best she could do...take it or leave it. What could I do, I took it. She smiled and hugged me again. I thanked her.
I was soon in my new position as an office assistant, with a much smaller desk in a tiny cubicle in an out of the way corner at the back of the office, much to the triumphant delight of my former colleagues, who were now my smug and demanding superiors. I shared my new duties with a bright and eager young girl just out of high school. I tried in vain to match her enthusiasm and confidence...she thought she was going places, and I didn't doubt that she soon would be.
I had to tell my wife of my demotion to a junior position as I knew she would soon notice my obvious drop in pay. She was again furious and wanted to know how it happened. I tried to explain and told her about Annika coming to my rescue with a new, albeit lesser, position. My wife was so beside herself that after she finished tearing a strip off me she lit into Annika, blaming her for my demotion, despite my protests to the contrary, and saying if that was in her department she would have been able to stop the dismissal notice. She forgot that Annika wasn't at my wife's level in her department. When she calmed down, she told me that despite her position, she couldn't interfere in another department's affairs and that I would have to make the best of the situation and try not to screw up this time. After learning about the duties of my new job and hearing me blurt out who I would be working with, she laughed, shook her head and said 'that's precious!', adding that 'hopefully, you've now reached your appropriate level of competence and you can finally do an adequate job at your new duties with your little school girl colleague. I'm sure you'll have fun together, she sneered. I wanted to cry, but I thanked her and told her I would do my best.
One day several weeks later, my wife came home and cheerfully informed me she had met Annika at a future aspiring executives conference for women. She said she was very impressed with her style, confidence, intelligence and assertive but friendly manner. She excelled over many of the other women at the mock competitions for executive positions. 'I was most impressed', she said, a young woman that reminded her of herself. There was a girl that was destined for high places, she predicted. After thinking for a moment, she added, now I understand why you lost that supervisory job to her. She chuckled, you didn't stand a chance. After I introduced myself as your wife, we went for a coffee, and we discussed you at length. She's quite fond of you despite what happened. I now know that she did the best for you and because of her efforts you still have a job, such as it is. I thanked her on your behalf and told her you finally seem happy with your work. She was pleased and said the young woman that you work with is a bit of a boss and despite your age difference, she took you under her wing when you appeared to be faltering with your new duties and now has you happily sorted out and back on the right track following her lead. 'That's wonderful' my wife told Annika. My wife then said to me, 'Annika is a beautiful and gracious young lady and I hope to see her again some time.' Actually, she thought for a moment, it would be sweet if we asked Annika over for a nice dinner to thank her again for all she's done for you. Yes, I would prepare the meal, and you could serve the wine and the food while Annika and I sit and get to know each other better. After that, when you're finished serving, you could join us for good wine, good food, and good conversation until it is time for you to don your best apron, you know the one my mother gave you, 'Oh, Annika will love seeing you in it?' and then you can clear the table and do the washing and cleaning up. In between your duties in the kitchen, you could serve us sherry and coffee and tasty delights in the living room while we girls chat. Then you when you're done your chores and everything's put away and spotless, you can come and join us in the conversation. Doesn't that sound delightful? Oh, I can't wait. Do be sure to ask her tomorrow for this Saturday evening. I hope she's free. I wonder if she has a boyfriend. A girl as pretty and smart as her surely does. Maybe she's already planned a date with the lucky man. Oh well, tell her I want to discuss some possible opportunities in my department with her. She's an ambitious young woman, that'll get her attention. Be sure to invite her, don't forget, or I'll be very angry.
It was then, imagining myself wearing my mother-in-law's apron serving Annika sherry in our living room, under the watchful eye of my wife, that I knew and could finally admit to myself ...I was truly inferior to a superior woman.
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|Re: Realization||Ms. Gertrude to Rhonae||10:02:33 04/07/16 Thu|