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But is it harrassment?

Okay, I've been aware for some time that I'm not well-liked in my unit. At least two of the women in my unit actively hate me (or, at least, they cut me, ignore me, won't return smiles and perhaps grudgingly return a cheerful "Good morning"); most of the rest generally ignore me unless there's some reason to speak.

Mostly I'm alone, and as a result, I tend to stay in my cube and do more work. I finally had the gumption to broach the subject with my supervisor, who assured me that people didn't hate me, they were just intimidated by me because I am such a high producer. Okay. It is true as of last productivity report I produced almost half again as much as the next nearest person, and that's the combination of our office and the Colorado office. Well, if perhaps someone would treat me like a person, a part of a team, I'd actually get up and socialize. I used to try, but the freezing I'd get whenever I tried to join a conversation, game, or other activity made it harder and harder, and I finally just gave up. I have a hard enough time getting to know people and I tend to just try to fade into the wall when I don't feel welcome.

So it's not the warmest place to work.

Anyway, today I was working and I missed that it was 1:00, which was when an anniversary party was to start. Very often because of how isolated we are in our cubes, folks say, "Hey, it's time for the party/meeting/gathering/whatever, you coming?" But today it was 1:20 and if public affairs hadn't come by to drop off a complaint file, I would have completely missed it. Of course, the only person who acknowledged my late arrival was our supervisor, who is a very friendly person and the best thing about working here.

So I'm sitting there quietly snacking from the veggie tray which was the nosh of choice and listening to the amusing anecdotes about the various children of the rest of the unit. And one girl, the guest of honor, was talking about how her two-year-old son was fascinated by a pinup girl some friend of hers had on the wall, and no amount of trying to distract the child would stop him from staring at the girlie poster. She finished the tale with, "At least I know he's not gay!"

And I kinda heard the other shoe drop as everyone laughed.

I've always been out at work; it's nice to work in a place where it's not a big deal and they go on and on about diversity and all that. Certainly it was never important in Word Processing, where I was an accepted member of the team and I felt honestly appreciated for my work. I was also a very high producer in WP and no one there was too "intimidated" by my numbers to not want to talk to me, say good morning, or ask me questions.

Perhaps I'm just being paranoid, and there really wasn't anything to it--although they tell us to run to human resources whenever one is made to "feel uncomfortable" at work. Most of the subtle putdowns handled by the worst offender are simply too vague and could easily be written off as my overactive imagination and social awkwardness. Still, it doesn't stop it from hurting, and I keep wondering what I did to these people to cause this kind of treatment. This person is always laughing and talking with everyone--except me. The only time she talks to me is if I've done something she thinks is wrong, and she seems to delight in that. I'm the only person I've ever heard hollered at for actually helping out with the work and, well, getting it done.

The gals I hang out with at lunch are from Word Processing, and when I mentioned this, one simply dismissed her as having "an attitude." Perhaps so, but since she sits one row of cubes over from me, I have to listen to her chat amiably with everyone else in the unit while treating me like something she found on the bottom of her shoe.

I'll happily admit much of my problem does stem from my distressing lack of social skills, but I swear I'm not imagining at least some of it...


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 13th, 2004 05:40 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry your coworkers are so unpleasant. But don't be too quick to ascribe them unsavory motives- that comment the one woman made was most likely not meant to hurt you. It's the sort of thing that one might pop off without thinking.

I used to joke about Alex's predilection for Pink and for dolls. But the joking is just that- joking. It's not targeted. I think alot of people do it, and if it's not meant meanly, if there is no malice aforethought, then I don't think you need to feel hurt by it.

Anyway, I hate that those women are making you feel bad. It may have nothing to do with being gay, though, and more to do with not being "part of the group." I've never been part of the group, I've encountered that sort of thing a hundred times in my life. FWIW, women? in groups? Nasty, vile bitches. We're the meaner sex.

If I were there right now, though, I'd give you a hug and buy you a candy bar. :)
Sep. 14th, 2004 05:37 am (UTC)
I guess it's always easy to cry "bigotry!" when you can't see any other good reason for it. Still, I long for the day when saying "at least he's not gay" sounds just as bad as "at least he's not black" would now.

But thanks. I needed that. :)
Sep. 13th, 2004 10:10 pm (UTC)
I always end up like that, which is one of many reasons I only work freelance anymore. In my case, I just wasn't the sort of boring person they could relate to and since I don't have kids and worse yet, don't want them, I've gotten my share of being treated like a three headed monster. It's their fault for being close minded, not yours.

At least I was talking to a designer I did a quick job for who was telling me about how proud she was of the paper her thirteen year old did for school on why can't anyone who wants to get married.
Sep. 14th, 2004 05:40 am (UTC)
I admire you for having the gumption to get up to working freelance. I just lack in certain areas where I can't get myself to do the things I should/could do to get to that place. It's just easier to go to an office and get a paycheck than go out trying to sell myself.

I weigh it -- in many ways it's much better to be working for a supervisor I like with a unit I'm uncomfortable with than it was to work with a good team under a supervisor I didn't like.
Sep. 14th, 2004 04:14 pm (UTC)
If I had real gumption, I'd have a website up and be only selling my own designs! Really, I have no choice about being freelance, since I mentally can't stand being around people that many hours a week and there is no way I can get up early enough to make day people happy on a regular basis. The few jobs I've had that I had to go in to I was always on the verge of being fired for always being late, but my work was just too good. Major stress.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 14th, 2004 05:43 am (UTC)
The weird thing is, if this one gal hadn't decided she didn't like me, we could be friends; or, at least, friendly. She likes a lot of the same things I do, and when she first came to our unit, I thought she was pretty cool.

I've always spent more time than I probably ought to trying to figure out why people don't like me than just letting it go and realizing that sometimes it just happens that way.
Sep. 13th, 2004 11:28 pm (UTC)
There, There
Ah, workplace dynamics. Yes, they're probably being creeps. If the lady you mention is the head creep, and she isn't the boss of you, then the next time you want to help out after your work is done, ask your supervisor if it's okay (and tell him why in confidence). That way, if head creep says anything, you can kindly reassure her that she doesn't have to worry, because you checked with the supervisor and it's okay.

I know it's tough to relate to a crew like that. Probably they're too different from you, but...have you tried being nice to one of the gang when head creep isn't around? How do the others react then? Do you still bring in treats for the gang? Do they ignore that? (Keep the treats at your desk, so they have to say "hi" to you.) If you can get people to be nice to you when head creep isn't around, they may start feeling guilty when they aren't nice when she is around, and start acting better. Maybe. Possibly.

Then again, I've been in work situations where the social dyamics were hopeless, and the best you can do is to ignore the idiots and be unfailingly nice to them. Well, mostly nice. Or at least not too actively evil.

Always remember: Your day counts as a success if you manage to get home from work without choking anyone. ;-P
Sep. 14th, 2004 05:49 am (UTC)
Re: There, There
Oh, yes, I do all the nice things. And when she isn't there, it's much less stiff. As I said, usually the rest don't do more than ignore me most of the time, unless they HAVE to ask/tell me something, and MOST of them are nice when we happen to meet.

Head Bitch has manuevered herself into a real HEAD Bitch position--I'm not sure how she got to be the boss of me but she's buddy-buddy with the lead workers and almost all the rest of the unit turns to her for information/assistance/advice on everything, and when the two lead workers leave (they work early hours) she is apparently the defacto boss. Since our supervisor doesn't really supervise much (which is one reason I like him), this seems to be the accepted norm. I'm too shy/self-effacing to ask some questions about why, other than she's in-your-face and bossy where I ain't.

Often when I do have treats at my desk, they vanish when I'm not looking. Only the few people OUTSIDE my unit who stop by the desk actually say hi before taking. :/

Last week, though, she interviewed for another position. I'm heartily wishing the best for her.
Sep. 14th, 2004 04:09 pm (UTC)
Re: There, There
You could be really, really nice and VERY helful to her at all times and drive her up the wall. She'd be your special friend... ;)

It might make her do something you could call her on or report.
Sep. 14th, 2004 05:14 pm (UTC)
Re: There, There
Oh, I do the whole smile and do more work thing, but dang if she didn't bitch at me for getting MORE work done... =8O
Sep. 14th, 2004 06:40 pm (UTC)
Re: There, There
Bleah. I heartily hope that H.B. gets her promotion, too. May the gods bless and keep her...far away from you.
Sep. 14th, 2004 09:26 am (UTC)
I don't think that it's technically harassment, in that I'm not sure it rises to the level of hostile work environment. It sounds, to me, more like an unfriendly environment with one hostile person who knows what lines not to cross.

But I know how insidious and stressful it is to work with that. I'm really sorry.

It isn't much comfort, but the first thing I thought at the "at least he's not gay" line was, don't be so sure. She should have seen all the girlie posters and stuff I used to have when I was a teen ager. And I'm not, by any means, the only gay guy to have gone through that stage as a kid.

Sep. 14th, 2004 04:06 pm (UTC)
Or he could be bi. It confuses many people that I have a rather large collection of scantily clad female action figures. "No, those are mine. The GI Joes are Steve's."
Sep. 14th, 2004 05:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I just needed to get it off my chest, as it were.
Sep. 14th, 2004 06:42 pm (UTC)
After all, he might be envying the clothes.
Sep. 14th, 2004 10:32 am (UTC)
Probably whatserface wasn't trying to be deliberately insulting. But on the other hand, if no one ever calls her on it, she and everyone else are going to keep doing and saying things like that. Back at RSI I had to smack Paul down once when he and John Bass were making with the homophobic remarks, and it was not a fun experience because I really don't like confronting people. But if you don't confront them, things will never change. (And by confront, I just mean saying something like "You may not realize it, but that really hurts me.")

And if all else fails, tell 'em your mean dyke girlfriend will beat 'em up after school.
Sep. 14th, 2004 05:17 pm (UTC)
I can barely confront myself in the mirror in the morning.

If I had any cojones at all I'd speak to Mark about it, but as it is, I'll probably just keep it all bottled up until I explode in my LJ... :)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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