18 March 2012

Broken Legs

I was volunteering at the local access TV station Saturday, as is my general custom, and was setting up the audio board in the control room when I heard this exchange between the new girl and the station manager (SM):

Her (noticing the SM’s mug of coffee):  You should get me some coffee.

SM (with a look of concern on his face):  Are you alright?  (He then walks over to her swivel chair and spins her around.)  Oh good, your legs aren’t broken.  Get your own coffee.

Her: *laughter.*

And that, gentlemen, is how you pass a fitness test with flying colors.  She then tried to immediately try it on me:

Her (sulking):  I’m the only girl in this office. [In case the subtext doesn’t come through, she was very much implying that someone should fetch her coffee because she’s a girl.]

Me (with a smirk):  Well, it sounds to me like you’re the one best qualified for fetching coffee.

Her (with an I-can’t-believe-you-just-went-there look on her face):  a brief shocked silence followed by laughter.

I spent the rest of the day teasing her mercilessly.  She asked for my number (for professional reasons, of course).  I gave it to her.


  1. Hmmm, lucky you are a volunteer. A comment like that at a corporate job could result in a sexual harassment complaint.

  2. What's really sad, is that there are someone women who are actually worth talking to, and Cable Access Girl is obscuring that.

    Another thing that is really sad, is that there are some men who actually like being generous with their time, and coöperative, and listening to people. Some men like building little "alliances of effort" and hoping that some will flower into lasting friendships. Those men are continuously spat upon by the culture of promiscuity.

    We may kind of be sad when they're gone, or rather they stop acting like that. At least in practice; some may keep up detailed fantasies of an alternate world where you could be spontaneously and generous to your new friends without constantly being vomited on, because of course vomiting on people is such a great strategy.

    Sorry I'm bitter but that girl really hit an old nerve.

  3. Well-played, Simon. Teasing and negging are indispensable when interacting with girls today.

  4. Putting aside the "tease and neg" part of this exchange, the part I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is this:

    OK, so, wait -- this "new girl" just sat there and actually demanded that the station manager (presumably the head of the operation, no?) fetch her some coffee? And then insisted that you do it?

    I mean, I've been in a wide variety of workplaces for a quarter of a century, and I've never witnessed anything like this. I'm not doubting your story, by any means, I'm just having trouble wrangling the dynamic on display here.

  5. I think if I were in this situation I would most likely have the following reaction:
    deja vu -> bitterness -> stony silence -> walking away -> ignoring new girl as much as possible until she did something to please me (i.e. forever).

    But if I were in a better mood, I'd like to think I'd neither neg-and-game nor get her a cup of coffee. Instead I'd just say aloud what is going on:

    "Oh, you want me to get you a cup of coffee to prove that I am inferior, so you can use that as an excuse to ignore me in a social sense and eventually in a professional sense as well, performing tasks that I need you to do incorrectly and blaming it on me having explained what I needed wrong, etc.

    "Since that would prove irritating to our customers and costly to our employer, I'd rather not."

    Never mind the mostly-irrelevant sexual aspect--I've had a dozen of what could have been decent workplace relationships ruined by my willingness to help the people who got paychecks from my employers (i.e. my "coworkers"). Now I have to be careful to be properly inattentive, foot-dragging, inefficient--passive aggressive--with everyone I work with. I'm easily the most popular male in my unit (admittedly one with few males), but passive aggression doesn't come natural to me.

    Acting in this unnatural manager is fatiguing. It does make me a better father, in a strange way, since my baby son is the only person I can be myself around without constant fear of getting punished for good deeds.

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  7. @Carnivore- it's a good thing all the women that work there just adore me.

    @DW- And teasing girls is always enjoyable, to boot.

    @Display Name- The interaction was a little bit more subtle than that (and my apologies for not being clearer). The SM had said he was going back to the break room to fill up, and that he was then going to handle some paperwork at his desk (recall that we are in one of the studios, in the corner opposite his office.) She was basically requesting that he fill up a mug for her and bring it back, which is not the world's most unreasonable request. And she said it with a smile, not condescendingly, so she wasn't getting all entitled princess on him. And she didn't insist that I get her coffee as much as she implied that girls should be treated specially (I blame one of her coworkers for that--he's basically a nice guy who has treated her like a princess because he thinks she's cute; he'll definitely be friend-zoned). I would have ignored her, but I thought i would be fun to see how much sexist crap she would take before she found it intolerable.

    Also, it helps to know that the local access station only has 8 people on staff, which makes it a relatively flat hierarchy. (There are nearly one hundred volunteers though). Everyone who works there is some shade of liberal, and most of them are pretty left-field. As such, all people on staff buy into the idea of equality, so that's why the relationships are more casual (and why the women are not as likely to be called on their crap). I find it to be quite fun to be down there because I get along well with everyone, and all the women like me enough to put up with my general assholery.

    @Olave- I actually find cable access girl to quite attractive. I'm more amused than annoyed by fitness tests at this point, because I find it amusing to mess with girls whenever they try to pull stuff on me. She's rather young, too, and easily the most attractive girl in the place, so I can't fault her for acting the way she does, especially since she's new and is obviously trying to get a feel for how everyone will treat her and what they'll let her get away with. In fact, her behavior is quite rational. I'm pretty glad they hired her, because she replaced the only 6+ female they had in the place (who I also hit on relentlessly). It makes my weekends less boring.

    I don't like calling attention to what girls are trying to do because that tends to spook them, and they stay uptight for forever. Some guys see this as a plus, obviously, but I don't because I'd rather just mess with them and tease them. It's more fun for me.