There’s a Reason You Can’t Have 2 Alphas. No One Likes to Clean Up Blood.
For the past 5 years, the closest I’ve ever come to a hostile working environment is the time, only a couple of months ago, that I went all Office Space on my home printer and accidentally-on-purpose dropped it in a childish fit of frustration at its apparent refusal to do its job.
We haven’t spoken since.
Looking back, I realize I’ve been very fortunate. Aside from one boss of questionable moral character and another with questionable people skills whatsoever, I’ve had some pretty fantastic co-workers throughout my adult working life. (I say “adult working life” because we can’t even begin to explore the smorgasbord of bona fide taxed jobs I’ve carried since I was 15-years-old and literally flipping burgers at an ever-classy A&W Root Beer/gas station combo.)
Not the exact one where I worked, but you get the idea.
It started with my first “real” post-college job doing GIS (i.e. “making maps”) for engineers in an environmental consulting company, complete with the extra-private, 6-foot cubicle walls to ensure maximum productivity with minimum person-to-person interaction and an hour and 20 minute commute each way, and then continued when I moved on to working in GIS and then sustainability programs for the U.S. Army in an office full of mostly women — amazing women and one guy — surrounded by a world full of men and politics and acronyms and things that exploded and made the walls shake. It even continued when I reverted back to waitressing in a bar where I worked only for shoddy tips and the occasional bounced paycheck and where I mopped floors for free.
Throughout the history of these endeavors, my co-workers have always made the job, no matter how mundane, interesting and worthwhile. They understood the fact that we were all in this together. They joked, they laughed, and they didn’t mind when I launched the random stress ball over opaque and foreboding cubicle fortress walls.
They were good times.
But apparently, times are a-changin’.
At the risk of someone discovering me and subsequently finding myself dooced, I have to say — things at my new job are not so easygoing. Imagine 3 women working together in a 6′ x 6′ closet, trying to be productive and answering phone calls and pretending to be tech savvy, all while the big boss is away for an extended stint in the Reserves. Then imagine that 2 of those women can’t stand each other, and the third — that would be me — was only just brought in as extra help and currently feels like the knotted sock her dogs like to pull taut between them with clamped and barred teeth.
Only more uncomfortable.
On the one hand, we have the fiercely strong and independent Alpha Female, who territorially stands her forged piece of ground, the boarders carved deep into the earth with her constant pacing and panting and paranoia. Judge her as we might, the pack can’t help but admire the Alpha for her undying loyalty and self-assurance.
Drawing by: Beeju
On the other hand, we have the timid-yet-determined Under Dog, the one who knows she was brought in to be the boss, knows she has to strategically yet tactfully put the Alpha in her place, and knows that in any good plot line, the underdog wins. The pack likes the Under Dog. We know she can bring good things to us. But we’re afraid to show our faltering faith in the Alpha.
Drawing by: Beeju
And then there’s me. What role do I play in this little saga?
So far, all I can figure is I’m just the one who cleans up their shit.
And for right now, I’m thinking that’s the best place to be.
Sounds like your job is “interesting” at the moment! Is it permanent or temporary? Maybe you should be the underdog’s underdog who steathily comes in, steals the show, wows the real boss from a distance and gets promoted to your own closet, I mean office…
Knowing me, most likely temporary. :) Hopefully it will work out and I’ll be able to stick around for a while (as long as I don’t get caught writing about them on the internet, that is). Tempting thought about getting behind the underdog, although choosing sides is always a risk because, in the end, it’s going to come down to who the boss man respects more. And since I only worked with him for 1 day before he skipped town, I’m just going to do my best to make both ladies happy and hope for the best. :)
Not getting involved sounds best. I didn’t mean take sides – I just meant rising from the bottom to the top in a neutral, but spectacular kind of way… Hope it goes well for now :)
Haha, I hear ya – and that would be… spectacular. ;)
Dogs? An office full of women is a den of vipers. Let’s forget that I am one for a moment, but women are mean and horrible and nasty. I suspect that you’re a lot like me in that you’re a guy’s girl. I’ve worked in both mostly male workspaces, and mostly femal workspaces, and the absolute worst work environment is the office of women. Lucky for you, there’s just 2. I have no advice, but to just keep picking up their shtuff.
You know, until a few years ago I definitely considered myself a guy’s girl. But when I had the (what I’m now realizing was a super fortunate experience) of working in an office full of interesting and fun women (and some really great women I met back in college as well), I can definitely be a girl’s girl, too. I just never “got” girls who are catty or superficial, and apparently I’ve managed to avoid this type of situation for the most part. Until now. Yay. :)
Well at least your office life is not …boring. Doesn’t sound like the most..ummmm…. Utopian work environment to say the least……………but if you think of it as temporary a stepping stone you have some great quality to you an I am sure you will be able to make it work until you get to the next stone
Sometimes it’s boring. Though I try my best to not let that happen. :)
“the knotted sock her dogs like to pull taut between them with clamped and barred teeth”
Great word picture…but Ouch!
This is why my friends in school were guys and I much prefer working in a guy environment. It’s tough to say, and I do know some GREAT women, but the workplace just draws a certain crowd and creates a certain environment where one or two can really wreak havoc. (OK, it’s only takes one or two guy jerks to do the same.) And when there are only 2 others, that’s a definite challenge!
Be sure to leave the spit at the office… ;-)
You’re absolutely right — I honestly didn’t know how lucky I was working in that office of women who actually got along! Now I’m seeing that was the exception, not the rule. It’s sad because women could totally rule the world if we weren’t hell bent on being horrible to each other. ;)
I say just stay out of it as much as you can! Don’t pick sides and if either tries to gossip to you about the other, just say that you are new there and aren’t really comfortable with judging them when you hardly know them. You don’t need the stress of drama at work to add to your already busy schedule! :)
Done, and done. I’m trying to stay out of it… Luckily, they seem to be avoiding each other and are rarely in the office at the same time. :)