Wednesday, June 17, 2015
dennis: SERVING MS. BROWN, PART 5—JOAN STRIKES BACK
(Note From Mark Remond: This post can be read as a provocative sidebar to SERVING MS. BROWN, PART 4 – WEEKLY STAFF MEETING.)
Wanting to follow up on my suggestion for Carol to lunch with Joan, our HR director, I called her office, but only got her voicemail. This was unusual since Joan has an administrative assistant, brad, a bright young man, recently graduated from college. A few minutes later brad called me with instructions that “Ms. Smith (Joan) wants to see you in Her office right now.” Having conveyed that abrupt summons, brad promptly hanged up. When, perhaps a minute later, i show up at Joan’s office, brad was there to usher me immediately into his Boss’ office, then close the door. Long minutes passed, however, before Joan even acknowledged me, and then only to motion me to sit on a low chair adjacent to Her desk. Another few minutes passed before she gots up and walked over to my chair, the sound of Her heels further reinforcing Her Female authority. My low chair, Her high heels, plus Her 5’10” height all combined to have Her towering above me.
“What the hell happened in Carol’s meeting this morning?” Joan screamed, giving me a sharp shin kick for emphasis.
“Ma’am?” I responded sheepishly.
“Ma’am, my ass!” Joan yelled. “Listen bitch, I don’t like being left out to dry like that. You could have said something.”
“But I mentioned to Carol all that You do for us here,” I said, stammering for an excuse.
“Why bring up favorable things about me after the meeting? What the hell good does that do? Listen, bitch, you better realize that I can make a few calls, and you’d be history here, do you understand that? Trust me, I can find some reason to fire you and make it stick, and the same applies to your bitch buddy, tom – make sure he knows that. I’m sick and damn tired of not getting the respect I deserve around here.”
“Yes Ma’am,” i responded with a gulp.
But Joan wasn’t finished. “As a matter of fact, I think you’re partly to blame over this mobile applications thing, because you didn’t manage the head of the computer science department very well, at least that’s how I see it. How about you?”
“Yes, Ma’am, i guess I am partly to blame.”
“Partly?” Joan yelled. “If you’re implying that I have some culpability here, you’re sadly mistaken.”
“Oh, no, Ma’a, that’s not what i meant at all.”
Still obviously enraged, Joan went on to say that both tom and i were responsible since we were involved with the college computer science department. “I’m going to do an investigation of this mobile apps thing, and when i’m through, both you and tom are going to have some entries in your personnel files, and they may not be too flattering.”
But there was still more: “We have Women coming up who we’re going to be looking at to move into your positions—yours and tom’s—and it’s all that much easier when the incumbents are fucking up, do you understand that?”
“But you can redeem yourself by helping me confront the head of the computer science department at the college. That guy is my choice as poster boy for misogyny, that patriarchal son-of-a-bitch.”
“Maybe we could have a meeting with the college president to discuss this?” i suggested. “She’s always been supportive, and She’s a committed Feminist.
Joan agreed that we should definitely “take this to the top.” But she concluded our “discussion” with a final warning: “You’re not out of the woods for fucking up today, little man. You owe me and you’re going to start paying—now.”
Dipping into Her purse, She pulled out a receipt and a set of keys. “Have my car washed and the oil changed then pick up my dry cleaning.” She held out the dry cleaning receipt and car keys then, as I reached for them, dropped them on the floor. “Pick them up,” She ordered, “and this is out of your pocket.”
“Yes, Ma’am, my priviledge, Ma’am.”
“And one last thing.” Joan kicked Her pumps off in my direction, commanding me to “Shine these and make sure they’re back here by one o’clock.”
“Why, yes, Ma’am,” I said, trying to demonstrate my deference, “i can shine them right now. Where does brad keep his shoeshine supplies?”
“He doesn’t, at least not yet, so you’ll have to take them to your office.”
“That’s fine, Ma’am, do you have a tote bag?”
She didn’t, or perhaps She wanted to teach me some humility by having me openly carry her pumps through the long corridors and into the packed elevators. In any case, that’s exactly what I did, a male executive carrying heels through corporate headquarters.
Some of the Women i passed, having a real feel for their own power, bantered with me. “Nice heels,” one Woman called out, “but not your size.” i smiled and nodded in agreement. “Oh, are those yours?” asked another Woman as Her colleagues giggled.
Courtesy toward all Females being mandatory in our company, i responded candidly, explaining that a staff member needed them tended to. On hearing this, another commented, “Maybe when I get to staff level, I’ll have my shoes shined, too!”
i assured Her that She would, but suppressed a followup thought—“And i’ll be delighted to care for them for you.”
i returned to the office and immediately got busy caring for Joan’s shoes plus a pair of Carol’s for good measure.
he remainder of the morning was fairly routine. i tended to departmental issues as well as taking dictation from Carol and attending one of Her meetings where my shorthand skills were need. Plus i answered phones, took dictation and handled paperwork. i knew i would have plenty to keep me busy over lunch tending to personal tasks for Carol—and now Joan.