Send Him Back Some Materials On Misogyny

, , , , , | Working | January 29, 2020

(I work at a small engineering company. It is a wonderful place, everyone is really friendly, and we all hang out together off work and know each other’s families. I am the only female engineer there. The company is growing fast, so they hire a new office assistant. The guy is kind of incompetent, which we initially justify as having little experience, and often says things that come out sexist or racist. We pass that off as him being socially awkward or trying too hard to fit in. I guess we are so used to our great work environment, it doesn’t occur to most of us he is just an a**hole. Then, this happens. The company is to have a stand in a large conference overseas, and this guy fails to send some of the conference material – pamphlets, trinkets, etc. – in time. I am the last one to leave for the conference, by a few days, so the CEO asks me to bring some of it with my luggage. No problem, I think.)

Assistant: “So, this is what you’ll need to take to the conference.”

Me: *eyeing the large, heavy box* “All right. I was only taking one bag, anyway, so we’re okay on luggage count, but this will probably be overweight. How will I get compensated for that?”

Assistant: “It’s your responsibility to pack your bags to the airline standards. I know girls like to carry their houses in their bags, but you can live lean for a week!”

Me: *ignoring his comment* “I can probably rearrange this box between two bags and pack my things around it, so it should still be okay. Worst case, I can talk to [CEO] when I get there, I guess. And my cab to the airport is arranged already, so I just need a cab to get me home with this stuff.”

Assistant: “Don’t be silly. Transportation to and from work is on you; you know that.”

Me: “Sure, normally. But I take the subway, and I can’t take this big box in it.”

Assistant: “So, get your own cab. Just like a woman to want to make the most of a man’s money.” *laughs*

Me: *getting annoyed* “I’m certainly not spending my money on doing what should be your job. I’m doing this as a favor to [CEO] and the company.”

Assistant: “Look here, little girl. Just because you think you’re so smart and [CEO] lets you play at doing a man’s job, that doesn’t mean you can be this disrespectful. Now, you will take this material and get it to the conference, since that’s your only use for going in the first place.”

Me: “Yeah, no. I’m 24 with a Master’s degree in [specific engineering field], so I don’t have to think I’m smart. I was specifically invited to speak at this conference, so I’d be going even if there was no company stand there. And there probably won’t be, because I’m definitely not taking any of this crap with me.”

Assistant: “You’ll see what happens when [CEO] hears about this!”

(I left the material and went to the conference. When I got there and told [CEO] of this conversation, he was FURIOUS. Seems he’d told the assistant to go to the airport himself with the box, so it wouldn’t inconvenience me, and to pay all extra luggage fees as needed on the company card. The guy might have still only gotten a warning — that’s how lenient this place was — but, as it turns out, he mouthed off to the CEO, told him he should put the “girl” in her place, as everyone knew she was only there to “see to his needs,” just like the one he used at lunch. That would be the CEO’s wife, who sometimes went by the office so they could have lunch together. So, yeah, he was very much fired after that!)

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Engineered Himself Out Of A Bad Situation

, , , , , | Working | January 21, 2020

(This is one of my dad’s many stories. In the late 80s and early 90s, he was a very highly skilled network engineer, which at the time was just an emerging field. As a result, he jetted around a lot to help clients with installs and training on the new technology. In this case, he was sent to Argentina. My understanding is that it has cleaned up a lot in the last 30 or 40 years, but back then, it was not a great place. While at the hotel, his primary client contact insists that he should go to the club district while he is in town. My dad, not knowing any better, agrees, and picks a bar at random. The entrance to the bar is a steep set of metal stairs, which will be relevant later. He sits at the bar and orders a drink, but he starts getting a bad feeling about the place pretty quickly and decides he should go elsewhere, so he asks for the tab shortly after.)

Bartender: “Four hundred dollar.”

Dad: “What?”

Bartender: “Your bill. Four hundred dollar.”

(Bad feeling confirmed. My dad takes out all the money he has — a little over $100 — and places it on the counter, backing away slowly.)

Dad: “Look, this is all I’ve got. You can have it. I’m just going to leave.”

Bartender: “Four. Hundred. Dollar.”

Dad: “I don’t ha—”

(He is cut off by a blow to the front of his head from the billy club the bartender produced out of nowhere. Due to sheer bull-headed stubbornness — okay, and probably some adrenaline — he doesn’t black out, but manages to stumble towards the exit. Just as he gets there, he feels one of the bartender’s friends grab him by the shoulder. He very quickly decides on a course of action, and grabs the guy’s arm and yanks him down the stairs with him, doing his best to make sure that the other guy hits as many of the metal steps as possible on the way down. At the bottom, my dad gets up; the other guy does not. This is apparently enough to make my dad “not worth it” and he stumbles out onto the street. He tries to flag down a passing Policia, but the guy seems to develop a curious case of blindness at the bleeding American crossing his path. In the end, a hotel concierge manages to catch him before he stumbles deliriously into an even worse part of town, and after refusing a ride in an ambulance — 80s Argentinian hospital = NO — the gash in his head is super-glued shut and he is sent on his way. He actually finishes the job, with a huge knot on his forehead, and when he gets home to his workplace…)

Boss: “Whoa. What happened to you?”

Dad: “I got mugged.”

Boss: “…”

Dad: “In Argentina.”

Boss: “…”

Dad: “After the guy you sent me to work with told me to visit the club district.”

Boss: “Huh. Well, that sucks. Did the job get done?”

Dad: “Yes.”

Boss: “Great! Anyway, next month we have another trip lined up for you…”

(Yeah, my dad didn’t stay with that company too much longer.)

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Clean Water, Not Dirty Bombs

, , , , , , | Right | January 19, 2020

Some classmates and I were on a month-long expedition through northern Argentina. Prior to our journey, we were equipped with iodine to purify our drinking water from taps and streams, which came in dropper bottles. We were in the Buenos Aires airport ready to go back home to see our families.

After successfully going through airport security, we filled our Nalgenes with water from the restroom tap, gathered in the boarding area, and began passing around the iodine to drop into our bottles.

Not ten minutes later, airport security evacuated everyone from the gate to go through the checkpoint they had just set up again. We had to dump out our freshly-purified water.

After going through the checkpoint again, we realized why they might have set up additional security. Thirteen foreigners suspiciously putting unknown chemicals into water bottles doesn’t look good. We brought the iodine into the bathroom for the next round of purification, which still looked odd to the bystander, but was a little more discreet.

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Christmas Closures Will Be Ignored  

, , , , , | Right | December 24, 2019

I am celebrating December 24th with my boss and peers — a motley crew of different South American backgrounds. My boss, a forty-something Peruvian, closes the door and hangs the “I’ll be back in five minutes” sign up while his wife pops a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

The sign is completely futile, and my boss has to remind every other persistent passerby trying to pry open the door with their bare hands in the presence of the sign, in the next five minutes, that we’re closed.

This leads me to the conclusion that if you do this, you’re either too stupid or you do it on purpose.

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A Membership To The Humanity Club

, , , , , | Friendly | October 7, 2019

When I was in my last year of high school, my family got into huge economic problems and I couldn’t afford any kind of luxuries. I had to walk everywhere because even bus fare was beyond our means. I loved to read, but buying any new books was completely out of the question, and I grew tired of re-reading the ones I had at home.

There was only one library within walking distance to my school or home, but I couldn’t afford the very small amount of money needed to become a proper member, so I would hurry there to grab a book and read inside the building for the half-hour between the time I left school and the time the library closed. I would memorize the page I had reached and grab the same book to continue reading the following day. I had managed to read a couple of books after a few weeks of doing the same thing when the librarian called me over one day. To my great surprise, she told me that she had noticed me coming in every day and how enthralled I was in my reading, and offered to let me take out books with her membership, since I couldn’t afford one of my own.

Thanks to her, I was able to take out as many books as I liked during a very hard time in my life and have something new to read comfortably at home whenever I wanted. My family moved cities after that year and I never saw that librarian again, but to this day, I can’t forget her and her act of kindness that brightened my days in a very dark time.

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