It’s a woman’s world to me
From the time I entered Corporate America nearly six years ago, I have worked almost exclusively with women in my direct group. The person who hired me and to whom I first reported was a woman. When she left, my next manager was a woman. So was the Vice President above her. With the exception of three freelancers, the people I personally managed were all been women. For three years, I have been the only male in my work group of nine. That’s eight smart, attractive women surrounding me five days a week. All of them younger than me, some of them by more than 15 years.
Sounds like a heterosexual’s dream job, right?
Here’s the thing – being the only bit of testosterone in the room can be trying. Every day I get up, go to work and find my place on the Island of Women, like some stranded, salaried Robinson Crusoe. All alone with no one to chat with about last night’s hockey game or playoff race. No one to do things with after work or on a weekend. Why? Because it is just not what you normally do with co-workers of the opposite sex when you are living with someone.
The truth is, in nearly six years of employment, I’ve never even discussed the ratio of women to me when I go home from work. I don’t see that conversation going well at all. I’ve already been very, very, very wrongly accused of having a romantic connection with one of my co-workers. I can only imagine what would happen if the first paragraph to this column were to be closely scrutinized.
“You only work closely with women? And they’re younger? And you think they are attractive? How attractive?”
Yeah. No thanks. So I keep that part of my life to myself, which only isolates me further. I go home and I’m Tom Hanks looking for a volleyball.
“Nope. Not a thing.”
Well, at least the last part is true. It has been the same way for years. On the upside, my opportunities to get into trouble are few and far between. After all, work provides me no real partners in crime. There’s no one to go out with after hours and have a couple of beers. Or go to a game. Or go on a ride. A bike ride, that is.
They did hire another fellow a few months ago, but we don’t have much in common. More importantly, his interpersonal conduct isn’t getting glowing reviews from the women, so I keep my distance to avoid getting his taint on me. After six years here, if I’m going to labeled a miscreant it’s going to be of my own doing and not by association with some newbie.
But it’s a big company, you say. True. But one doesn’t exactly wander the halls of a Fortune 100 company looking for buddies. Networking opportunities are few and far between in a corporate silo. And to be honest, I’d rather deal with a bit of isolation than look like some puppy dog trying to find a playmate. Everyone has a job to do, including me. It’s just that when I stand up and look over the walls of my cubicle all I see are women, women and more women.
And when they aren’t busy doing their work? They often share pictures of pets and children and post things that are not of much interest to me. Again, don’t misinterpret my observations. There’s nothing wrong with their interests and I don’t expect the world to suit my needs. I really like the women I work with and I am relatively sure they like me.
I’ve done nothing to draw their ire. I care if they have problems. God knows I’m not some isolationist nation. But it is awkward to go to birthday lunches and be the only guy at a table of nine. After a while, there just isn’t anything to talk about at those meals and I don’t expect them to cater to my whims. Frankly, I’ve just stopped going because I’d rather not sit and hear the girl-talk anymore and being the single male voice is tiring time after time after time. Sometimes I do wonder what any of them would do if the tables were turned. It’s just a thought. Not a wish.
Bottom line? A little manly water-cooler banter would be nice once every six years. Funny. What some people see as trivial and insipid, I view as a potential rescue ship on the horizon.
I don’t want this to sound like a pity party. Last year I made a vow to complain less and look for the best more and I have done a fine job at it. I do have a great job and the women I work with are great people. I admire and respect them. But even with all the positives, I catch myself wishing there was a guy to talk to. The LA Kings are fighting for a playoff spot and no one around me cares!
I guess if there is any one overriding positive, it’s that I get to have an intimate comprehension of how a lot of working women feel when they say they must endure in a man’s world. I understand the isolation and awkwardness they describe. Of course, I do not understand the sexual innuendo and abuse many of them have to suffer. But on my own level, I know fully what it means to feel out of place, even if it is unintentional.
Oh well. We all have our things. Guess I’ll go look for some coconuts. Go Kings.