An Installation Aberration

, , , , , | Working | December 3, 2018

(I’m an IT technician in a factory, the only female on the team. I’m heavily pregnant with twins; it’s my first pregnancy. I’ve been quite ill, with aches and pains, dizziness, and so on. I’ve also been suffering quite badly from hyperemesis gravidarum — vomiting during pregnancy. My hormones are going crazy, and I have been quite emotional. My boss, a massive bear of a man with a heart of gold, has been wonderful, allowing me to work from home or just take a rest day if I feel too ill to work. I’ve been trying to come in as much as possible, though, in spite of how I’ve been feeling. I’m on light duties, forbidden to go into the factory or do anything more strenuous than walking to an office to plug in a mouse. One day I’m at my desk, fixing a few things using remote support, and updating the asset database. I’m alone in the office. One of my colleagues, who is currently working on one of our other sites, sends me a message over our internal messaging software.)

Colleague: “Hey, [My Name], what you working on now?”

Me: “Not much. Fixed a few things, and now I’m looking at updating the asset register.”

Colleague: “There’s four new PCs to go into finance. Today. Can you sort it, please?”

(This is part of a project he’s supposed to have finished by the end of the week; clearly he’s missed his target.)

Me: “But… I’m on light duties. I’m pregnant, in case you’d forgotten?”

Colleague: “Don’t be stupid; it’s not hard to install four PCs.”

Me: “So, ask someone else?”

Colleague: “I’m asking you.”

Me: “…”

Colleague: “Look. Just do it. Why do you women always have to be awkward?”

(He then signed out of the messenger, something we IT technicians aren’t supposed to do unless we’re going off site or going home. I have a rare medical condition called Craniocervical Instability, which means my neck can’t support my head properly. I’m fine if I wear a neck brace; otherwise, I get excruciating pain in my head and neck after a while. I’d had my neck brace off for a few minutes, but now I put it back on. I got up from my desk and waddled to the IT store. I located the four PCs and monitors, which I loaded onto a trolley and slowly dragged to the finance department. The only person in Finance was a young intern, so I asked him where the computers needed to go. He showed me. I cleared a desk, set up the first computer, and knelt on the floor to connect up the cables. By now I was exhausted. I was sweating, my back, neck, and shoulders hurt, and I felt dizzy. Suddenly, I got an attack of nausea and vomited all over the floor and down the front of my blouse. The intern, embarrassed, jumped to his feet and asked me if I was okay. He sat me down and got me a drink of water, then started clearing up the mess. At this point the chief accountant walked in to see me sitting in a chair, crying my eyes out, and her intern on the floor cleaning up my vomit. She asked if I was all right, and when she learned what had happened she called my boss, demanding to know why he was sending a heavily pregnant and clearly uncomfortable woman out to do such a big job on her own. My boss, it turns out, knew nothing about it! My boss apologised to the chief accountant, and to me. He sent me home early to rest. I later found out from one of the other technicians that when my colleague came back on site, my boss called him into his office and started screaming at him. Yes, screaming. Apparently, it was so loud they could hear every word! He no longer works for us. He quit that afternoon.)

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