Sunday, August 08, 2004

NDAWNIS -paula's day job

If I said that I met my new boss at the urinal -would you believe me?
I got a new job. Please note this is not a woman's job. But the phone company is recognizing that there is a fat law suit coming around the corner if they do not begin to integrate qualified women into all areas of the workplace. And this was the beginning of the digital era of computer and satellite networks.
Arriving at work just up the incline from the Banker's Heart on California Street, I enter the building, and take the elevator up, but cannot find an entrance to the work area. The main door has been welded shut, a side door is locked and the break room door leads just there. I hang around -there is one other door, but its for the men's room. Finally someone gets off the elevator and I ask directions. He points to the men's room door -its OK, just make a right as soon as you pass the threshold. I do. And just inside is a row of urinals -one is in use. Fellow turns, hand in motion, very unexpected look on face -quickly readjusting clothing, Can I help you ?
I mention the name of my new boss.
"That's me, you must be Paula."
"Yes, Uhm, I actually thought I might be in the wrong place."
"No, we can go through that door to your right —never expected any women to work on this floor, so the entrance is through here. Let me introduce you to the other techs. Its early, everybody's still having coffee, they should all be close by."

We walk through the equipment and come to a circle of desks.Someone chuckles over the loudspeaker, “come see what they brought us to fuck.” Within minutes two dozen men have stopped what they were doing to come closer and take a look.
Every wall had naked pin-ups. The telephones had rotary dials, and each finger hole had a cutout of some part of a woman's anatomy. . . a breast, a face, a labia. I would come to share a desk with a man who would sit every morning with the latest copy of his favorite girlie magazine. Licking his index finger he would point to an area of some girl's body, asking, if I didn't just dream to look like that.
I did filing for the longest time, it would be several months before they would begin to train me. All the training materials were set up for men's eyes only -they seemed somewhat embarrassed and would not let the women see any of it. The management had never thought about hiring women. Every company poster or equipment room numeric chart was covered with girly pictures. For the moment it was the way it was.

It was considered normal. It took six months to clean the pictures off all the equipment throughout the seventeen floors but the men still had their pin-ups hanging over their desks. They thought nothing of them.
A year later one of the new employees, a woman, a lesbian no less, would bring in the first Playgirl spread of Burt Reynolds. There was nothing to see, he had his hat across his lower torso, but when the young woman pinned up the poster over her desk just inside the entrance to the office the men went crazy.
Are you interested in men, too?
Their comment basically centered around ---you can't put that here.
She looked at them, “what's the matter, there are pictures of naked women all over the office?”
We thought you liked that.

She looked at them quizzically, but none of the pictures are of men,
-we need equality, we need to have some pictures of naked men.
The men couldn't stand it, and a complaint was made to the district manager.
One of the managers intervened the next morning, bringing coffee and doughnuts for the office. Standing in front of the new pin-up poster of Burt Reynolds, laughing, he advised the office that the time had come for the removal of all the pin-up pictures. Yes, all of them... it was like watching a mayoral candidate as he walked around the office shaking hands with all the male technicians.

It took one afternoon to rid the office of what was left.


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