Thursday, June 02, 2005

Don't Judge a Man Unless You've Walked a Mile in His Pumps

When I was used to make video games, I never gave much thought to what it must have been like to be a female working in a male dominated industry. Video Game companies are the ultimate expression of a work environment where the boys never had to grow up and give up their toys. Now I work in the Romance publishing business, and it's clear that the high heel is on the other foot. Our customer base is predominately female, and the makeup of the workforce reflects this.

Let me give you an example. When we had a company meeting at Origin, we would roll in a keg of beer and finish up the meeting by dropping pumpkins off a roof, watching them explode. How do we end a company meeting in my new job? By knitting blankets for kids with cancer. One may debate the relative virtue of charity vs. produce destruction, but at least with alcohol fueled vandalism, a man knows where he stands.

After an overview of company performance, one of the companies more well known authors introduced a winner of a public service award, which recognizes women who make a positive difference in the world. After hearing the tragic tale of her daughter's fight with cancer, and how she turned the tragedy into an opportunity to do good, we retired to the cafeteria where we were given yarn and some needles. For reasons beyond my knuckle dragging male comprehension, we were given the opportunity to make squares of a blanket that would be donated to a teenager with a deadly disease.

On the bright side I managed not to poke my eye out on the darn things.

Like many of the male employees, I sat there dumbfounded as the process of knitting was explained. Like listening to a magician explain how his slight of hand is performed, the theory makes sense but the practice of the theory is where it all breaks down. Having failed miserably at my first attempt, I decided to pick up a knitting manual that had been brought in. The instructions made computer manuals look like Dr. Suess. The first row failed as I tied it together too tightly. Look, if you're going to tie a grill on to the top of a car, you make sure the knots are nice and tight. Tying something together loosely just feels wrong. By the time I got to the second row, I began to have fantasies of hiring some cheap Malaysian workers to finish the job for me.

The knitting project now sits on the computer desk, it's unfinished state taunting me.

I work for a company that is caring and sensitive to the needs and well-being of it's employees. A company where people ask questions about each other's personal lives, and show interest in the families of their coworkers. It's a company where people are considerate, honest and hard working. It gives me the creeps and makes me feel downright uncomfortable. For a bitter, chain smoking cynic it's a bit odd at times.

Give me booze and explosives any day. I may have to go buy a pumpkin just to feel more balanced.


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Hope this helps others.


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