Thursday, 5 March 2015

Is it just me?

Sometimes I get a little annoyed at work. No, really I do. I know that may seem hard to believe, but it's true. Last week, for example the following three interactions took place, all in one day:


S - The Boss
M - Electronics Engineer. Joined the company when I went on maternity leave, as a permanent member. Took over many of my job functions.
C - Bolshy Engineer

 Scene 1, a project meeting:

Background: before M joined the company, I did a large proportion of the electronics, including design, test, debug and repair. 
Me: If M is over-loaded, I could have a look at that repair job, since I've got some spare time.
S: It is electronics you know.
Me: Yes, I know, I may not be an electronics designer, but rumour has it I used to be more or less competent to debug things 
S: But it's electronics you know.
Me: <snarkily> I'll just go back to typing the minutes shall I? I'm good at typing after all.

Scene 2, the same project meeting:

Background: before M joined the company, I was responsible for all detector testing. I trained M in how to do it. Recently, the company purchased a new oscilloscope. I helped specify and choose the new oscilloscope.
Me: Since M is still over-loaded, I'll test those detectors 
M: Remember it's a new oscilloscope
Me: <full-blown snark> Yes, I know. But if I can't cope, I can always use the old one.

Scene 3, later that day

S: I need someone strong to help me move this table
Me: I'll help
S: I need someone strong.
Me: <something really quite rude>

Scene 4, later that day, I'm testing a detector

M: If you can't remember where to set the voltages, you can just come and ask me
Me: <gobsmacked silence>...
Me: <suppressing snark> It's OK thanks, I think I can remember what I'm doing

I mean really, am I completely bloody useless? Am I only here to type up the minutes during the project meetings because nobody else in the damn place can spell or type without staring at the keyboard and wondering where they left the 'd'? Is it because I'm "only" a girl? Or because I took a year of maternity leave and therefore lost all right to be treated as though I have a brain? Or because I now work 3 days a week instead of 5 and am therefore only 60% of a functioning person?

Then this week, something similar occurred, with a change of cast.

Scene 5, the laboratory

C: The reactor stack is ready for PhysicsBear to test tomorrow
M: I could test it now if you like?
C: There are some alignment subtleties to it you know
M: I know, I tested the last one
C: It's quite subtle, I think PhysicsBear should test it.
M: ...

And then I remembered all the other times that S has questioned, erm, well, pretty much everybody's ability to do anything whatsoever. And all the times M has reminded people of things they already know. And all the times nobody has listened when I've suggested what the problem might be. And all the times one or other of us has essentially been told "make sure you do your job properly and don't screw up won't you?" And all the times I've told C he's a lunk-head.

So I conclude that I just work with a bunch of insensitive muppets who don't actually have the faintest idea they're being insulting. And I have to count myself as one of those muppets. There's a reason outsiders look at us with bewilderment when they see us at work. There's a reason my colleague's daughter refers to us as a dysfunctional family. There's a reason C's wife, a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, shakes her head and points out that we're all "on the spectrum". There's a reason I get irate at work. And it's just possible they're all the same reason. And it's just possible it's the reason we're actually pretty good at doing things that nobody else in the world is stupid enough to try.

It's not just me.

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