Thursday, May 22, 2003

People think I'm kidding when I tell them that I work in a sitcom. They just have no idea. I mean, look at the situation: I'm a 33 year old femmy female working in a company comprised almost entirely of retired military guys. The only other females in the office are the part-time contracts person and one of my drafters. I'm the only one in management.

These guys are old school, too. They call me honey, kid, sweetie, and a variety of other terms of endearment indicative of their generation. I can only imagine what they call me behind my back. And, I probably deserve it.

They rarely piss me off, though. My background has given me a thick skin. I was raised by a U.S. Marine who thought his kids should be as disciplined as his troops. And, I spent six years in the Air Force myself as an aircraft mechanic. There isn't much I haven't seen or heard when it comes to the nature of men. I actually prefer working with them - you always know exactly where you stand.

The cast of characters is about what you would expect. I've changed the names to protect the guilty.
"Charlie" is a gruff old retired Marine who still thinks he's stud enough to date me even though he's in his mid-50's. He struts around here with half a cigar in his face with his shirt open and gold jewelry showing. When I first got here he tried to be really intimidating to me and to come across as being super intelligent.

He chilled out after I embarrassed the shit out of him in a manager's meeting one day. It was one of my first meetings and he was trying to be ultra-delicate because there now was a female in the room. With obvious restraint, he proceded to describe a messed up situation using the metaphor, "A monkey at a football came." There was tense
silence. I looked at my boss - the president of the company - like 'what the hell is this guy's problem?' And then I loudly asked Charlie, "You mean a monkey fucking a football??" The whole room fell apart laughing. It's not pretty to see an old Marine blush.

In one of his efforts to appear more intelligent than he actually is, he sent me an email one day apologizing if he caused me any incontinence for missing an appointment we had. I assured him that he in no way caused me to shit myself.

"Len" resents me and my gender no matter what I do, but is smart enough to keep it diplomatically tucked away enough so that it's not too obvious. It comes out in other ways, though. Like the time he was talking to one of his colleagues on the phone with a group of us around him for technical input. He told his colleague how intelligent I am about avionics (for a girl) - and how surprised he is about it. My other colleagues just shook their heads. I secretly cried in the bathroom for about half an hour over that one. He's just an old school guy who doesn't see women as good for anything but ironing his shirts. Silly me for thinking I would be the exception. We're a helluva team when it comes to selling our services, though. He talks the contract stuff and I talk techie.

"Judd," on the other hand, thinks I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. He's in his 70's, retired in 1974 from the U.S. Marine Corps, and used to be an aircraft electrician. We sit around in the morning sometimes and swap stories over coffee. He likes the fact that I've been "in the trenches." Oh, he has stories about how they used to get things done in the "old days," and it usually involved booze and women.

... more later ...