I started thinking about this after spending three hours total in the kitchen cooking, eating and cleaning up from dinner. I first thought of the last job I had, because it gives me anxiety to think about working until 5:30, then coming home to spend three hours on my feet (save for the time I spend eating), plus a little more time to prep lunch for the next day.
Thinking about that reminded me of a double standard situation at that last job and then that reminded me a weird double standard at another job years ago when I was pretty young.
The last job I had was at an executive suite. I worked in a dry windowless room answering phones. There were three other women who did what I did and one would cover the front desk.
One woman worked until 4:30, another worked until 5:00 and I worked until 5:30. The three of us were all full time. And there was a part timer.
Whenever any of these women’s quitting times rolled around, none of them could get to their coats and bags fast enough. When it was quitting time, they were not asked to stay longer and no one said anything about them being too eager to get outta dodge.
But after I’d been there a couple weeks, that is exactly what happened to me. My manager approached me after I’d gotten up to get my stuff and set out to the elevator to get out of the stuffy building. She said to me, “We need someone who isn’t in such a hurry to leave at the end of the day. Someone who is more dedicated and thinks more about the job than just coming in, doing the minimum and leaving.” (Or something along those lines). It’s been a decade since I was let go from that hell and I don’t remember her exact words. But that was the message for sure.)
How is it the boss didn’t have a problem with the employees making a run for it the moment the minute hand struck the end of their work day, but I’m supposed to worship the fucking place and hang out longer.
Being there until 5:30 already made it so I was lucky to make it home by 6. By 5:30 I hadn’t eaten since noon and I was ready for dinner. But I still had to get home and cook it. Then since I had to relive the torture, I’d also need to prep my lunch for the next day.
I had the double standard imposed on me at another job years before that too.
I was working for a company that printed out multi-page litigation reports and sent them out to a number of subscribers. This was long before the internet and email. There was a master report printed out and usually there would be smudges on the pages, so we’d have to go through the papers manually and white out the smudges, let them dry and then make multi-copies of each report.
We used a gigantic copy machine that would make many copies at once. Then we’d have to gather all the pages to each report and staple each report together. It was a long, tedious process. But it wasn’t that bad of a job. We worked in a huge room…it had to be to fit that monster copy machine. It was on the first floor and it had windows!
When we were finished with the first master copy of the report, we’d send it upstairs for one of the lawyers to proof-read. A handful of attorneys worked there and did the proofing. Most of them were pretty quick and had the report back to us within an hour. But there was this one lawyer who would take a really long time. We’d be held up sometimes because he was taking so long and we had no choice but to wait for him.
I asked once, “What takes him so long.”
The woman who I worked directly with, the person in charge of all that copying and getting the reports off in the mail, answered me with, “He’s just really thorough.”
It wasn’t like I could say much anyway, so I was just like, “Um, okay.”
Well, I wan’t there for much longer than a month when I was let go.
Reason: I was too slow.
One person’s slowness is thoroughness, the other person’s slowness is seen as negative. Thing is, I was only there a short time and was still learning.
I was crushed. I didn’t have a car at that time so I called my mother and told her I’d been let go and asked if she could pick me up.
She did and when I got in the car I told her the whole story and the look of disappointment knocked the wind out of me. I had been crying. I was already disappointed in myself enough, besides being confused as to how I was seen as ‘slow’ while slow poke lawyer was called ‘thorough.’
I was maybe 21.
I needed my mother to say something comforting. What exactly I don’t know. But something along the lines of “I’m sorry that happened” would’ve worked pretty well.
I’m not proofing this. It was painful enough to write it out and work through it the first time.
In addition, I’m also grappling with some new found realization that my mother is likely a sociopath. Figuring out she’s a narcissist was painful enough. But to figure out I was raised by a sociopath, is a lot to process.