Me? Submissive? OK, if you say so …

I was talking to our security guard at work the other day — a man who’s had a rich life and who’s doing this just for giggles now — and he suggested that when I find a man I want to keep, I should “be submissive.”

That’s the great meaning of life that’s been eluding me? Being submissive to a man?

You know, I was up half the night last night with my favorite person, just talking. And we must have ranted for a half-hour alone on how submissive we have to be in life, in general, either to get ahead or to not be considered a loose cannon or as someone who doesn’t seem loyal to the greater cause.

I have a few things on my mind (we all do) and I just keep them either to myself or away from the people who could actually do something about them. And when I do that, I feel like I’m being disloyal to myself. I always try very hard to determine whether I feel the way I feel about something or someone is rooted in how I feel personally before actually opening my trap and making an issue out of it.

And even when it’s driving me insane, I force myself to blow things off. I guess too many years of having people try to force me to prioritize their problems has taught me the value of not making everyone my emotional tampon on a heavy-flow day — of saving the theoretical therapist’s couch for a day when I really need it.

Controlling my, ah, flow helps me to blow off a lot of things, big and small, but one wonders whether those of us who *are* brave enough to speak up (but then we don’t) are doing a disservice to the people who show their dissatisfaction in other ways … like quitting and not saying a word about what *really* made them unhappy.

A friend of mine was asked to work late at her job last week at a major accounting firm, where overnights are normal. No big deal; she’s used to it. But she got really fired up when the employees with kids got to skip out before she did. It happens all the time, but I guess she just finally snapped. She wants to be a good sport and pick up the slack, because that’s just what you have to DO in order for the team to be successful. But on the other hand, when does she ever get to sneak out and live her life? As a single, childless person, is her time less valuable? She doesn’t feel that it is, but she also doesn’t feel like she’s in a position to stand up for it.

Incidentally, “Office Space” was on last night. That movie is such a cult favorite for a reason!

I took this question to a friend with kids, and she said she’s probably one of the rare ones who neither demands nor wants special treatment because she’s a parent. She remembers similar days of being chained to the desk, night after night, watching people go home to their dopey little families. And it’s not that the parents aren’t working hard when they’re with their kids — they are, and she knows it — but it stings a little bit more when everyone’s off the clock yet shit still needs to get done and somebody’s gotta do it.

The friend who posed the question wondered whether she should say anything about it — that her personal time was no less valuable, not that anyone asked. I pretty much told her my theory: Shove a sock in it. And go have a kid, or adopt one. Everyone’s doing it!

Actually, my theory is simpler, and I try to perpetuate it to the next generation (even though I fail consistently to practice what I preach). Step one is to build loyalty with your immediate team. Step two is to use that loyalty when you need a safety net. Step three: carve out time in which you refuse to be disturbed, and hold it sacred. Stay late during the week, for example, but weekends are yours. Period, end of story.

Here’s the deal: Nobody wants to be loyal to the people they don’t feel deserve it — meaning, if people are consistently using the kid thing to skip out, then they don’t deserve your help. Fuck them — they spread their legs and wanted that particular career; they can figure it out.

But if your “me” time is being sacrificed by everyone else’s wants and needs, then you need to piss a circle around your boundaries so that the sacrifice doesn’t always feel like it has to be yours. If people want to play the “get out of work free” card, then they’d better either get their shit done before they go or they’re going to hang themselves when the deadlines aren’t met. Personally, nothing frosts my ass more than people who wait all day to turn their shit in (while you’re sitting there twiddling your thumbs) and then they skip out, leaving you to finish things up. You do it because it’s your job, but it’s sort of frustrating when deadlines are interdependent.

Of course, my group of friends and I are all the same — they don’t want to go home without everything being done. At least, if the immediate stuff is done, they can deal with the pile of less-time-sensitive crap later. But as you know, once you push off a project or 10, you never get back to it. And that makes you feel horrible, like there’s stress and pressure on you because you’re not able to pull your own load because you’re sharing everyone else’s.

But that’s what teams do — they know that if the urgent goals are being met (together), then there’s success together. Tiff had a great post on how loyalty between employees and corporations is pretty precarious at best, but loyalty among team members is the relationship that counts.

My friend and I always go back to how our last company shit on every last ounce of revenue, media attention and imagination we brought to the table. But let’s clap for the committee of seven idiots who put the logo in white on a black T-shirt for the company. Big freaking deal. We got no recognition for doing something great, but let’s clap for the mediocre effort everyone else put forth. Don’t let the stars take a moment to shine — just pat everyone on the back for accomplishing something that week, even though the work was clearly of varying calibers.

*kick* That still makes me so freaking mad.

But back to Tiff’s point, she’d said something that got my mind churning:

“While we’re working for these faceless ‘companies,’ however, we’re working with real people, and establishing relationships that naturally have an emotional component. Loyalty in that context is critically important to the success of not only the team, but of the future careers of everyone on that team.”

I assure you, the idiots who put the logo on the T-shirt got a 4% raise because the CEO didn’t feel like doing performance evaluations and just gave them raises across the board. But my friend and I put in 60- to 70-hour weeks and accomplished magic, IMHO, with limited resources and I only got a 2.5% cost of living increase because my then-boss acted like raises came from her personal bank account and just didn’t give them.


I don’t know. I guess my friend wondered whether she should bring it up that she’s feeling slighted or whether she should just quietly plug away because she really needs that job. Or should she just find another? That’s the interesting part of all of this, I think — people don’t voice their opinions, but they sure do demonstrate them. And by the time the employer gets the hint, it’s too late to save them. And then when their replacement is hired and the employer is “smart” enough to realize the mistakes it made in the past, the other employees are left to wonder why they didn’t get special treatment — why the changes were only effected now, as if to retain the new person, when the culture has been established otherwise.

I don’t know. It’s frustrating. Like I told my friend, live and learn and write a book about it someday! That’s probably what I’ll end up doing. … 😉

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