February 18, 2006

The Perils of Being Supergirl

I come in early. I leave late.

I know the different types of labels, the best (yet cheap) tab dividers, and the best excuses for callers they don't want to speak to. I maintain an endless stream of charts, tables, spreadsheets and databases just to monitor cases. I know all the cases by heart, even the most obscure and silly ones. I know how to fix paper jams in the printer, photocopier and fax machine; and how to print addresses on different sizes of envelopes. I create ways to improve my productivity at work. I am the go-to girl...the one with the answers...the one who keeps everything humming along in the office...the one whose absence renders the entire office at a standstill.

I am the gatekeeper. Or so they let me believe.

Day in, day out, I drag myself out of bed into the shower then off to the train for what?

"Your work is highly appreciated but we can't give you a high rating. Since we gave you a high rating last year, the higher-ups will not believe it if you scored a high rating again. They'd think we're easy to please, or worse, they'll be afraid. You see, consistent high ratings deserve a promotion in most instances," my supervisor tried to explain in a manner he deemed rational, "not that you don't deserve a promotion. You're just too young."

My jaws dropped upon hearing those words. When promotion is given based on seniority, not on merit or performance, and you know you bust your ass off every single day, hearing "you're just too young" to be promoted is the ultimate kiss of death.

"So it doesn't matter the number of hours I put in? The number of people I work for?" I asked in an unbelieving tone, "it doesn't count for something?"

"It's not that we don't appreciate you and the work you do." He paused. "We do. It's just...well...we're not allowed to give out high ratings to everybody." Another pause. "You DO understand, don't you?" I nodded mutely, not really understanding.

"Good girl. I assume there are no more questions?" And with that I was led out of the office.

What the bloody hell just happened? Somehow it felt like a set-up. Let's play Pretend. Let's pretend we're serious about evaluating you. Let's pretend to tell you the truth and tell you everything. Let's pretend, after a few minutes, that we really talked about things of great substance. Let's play make-believe.

But that's part of it, not the whole story.

They will downplay good performance just so they can get away with giving an okay rating.

What's worse, these people won't admit they're pushing you, oh no! They will skirt the issue; reframe it, essentially reframing your whole reality. They flatter; they wheedle and whine for things to go their ways. These people are just that – oversized, overgrown tantrum-filled babies.

You work for two or three people. If they see you survive, they'll add one more. And another. All of a sudden, without you noticing it, you're working for six! Yet they still claim you're not busy. Looking the other way just so they don't have to see you're overworked and underpaid. Overextended and unappreciated.

At their beck and call, at their mercy or at their whim, it's not easy. Sometimes you don't know if they're still thinking.

"Can you please fax this document to our Geneva office?"
"To whom should I send it to?"
"Ummm...I don't know. Just send it. It will get there anyway."

They give me a document to fax to another country. No recipient's name, no fax number. Who am I sending the document to? A phantom? Sending a fax to a phantom recipient = not a smart thing to do.

"Can you at least give me the name of the office? Any name?"
"Hmmm...I don't know. Just send it."

Off to the fax machine I go high-dee-ho. Sorry if it goes nowhere and everywhere all at once.

They thank you for everything – every single thing – the kind of thank you that makes you suspicious. You're a dear, a darling, an angel and a sweetheart – all sweet nothings that are exactly that, nothing. When it's crunch time, when it really counts, they give you nothing.

"Ooooh! Look at those pants! I do need a new pair!"

A silent voice in your head urges you, "buy it! You deserve it. You've worked hard all week. Some of them didn't even treat you nicely. Be nice to yourself. You deserve it. BUY IT."

My closet is stuffed to the brim with skirts, suits, shoes, bags, dresses, pants, bags and belts of all sizes and color for different occasions. Its contents are directly proportional to the lack of appreciation I feel. At the end of a workday, clothes become the reward.

If they are not appreciating me, I'll appreciate myself then.
Saturday, February 18, 2006Cecilia1 comment


Paige said...

Try to save that money for a cruise or vacation. While your on vacation send the office a post card. Not the usual "wish you here" but "glad I'm here" kind.