I am slowly coming to be familiar with the practices and customs of the modern workplace. I know where to park my car, who to avoid in the mornings, and when to just listen during meetings (That last one could enjoy a little more popularity among employees in my opinion). I also like to think I know the line between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. For example, saying “That is a nice color on you” would be what I deem to be an innocuous, appropriate, socially relevant comment. For some reason, one of my co-workers, a professional with a terminal degree, insists on making sexual comments. She is a female, not stunningly attractive, but constantly alludes to what I consider to be subjects which should be off-limits in the work place. My first experience with this situation was during a conversation about how she is unhappy with her husband’s dressing habits. Apparently he wears extremely baggy jeans and she stated (vociferously) that she likes to see a “little ass on her men” then described in detail how she is an “ass woman”. Personally, I am neither offended nor made uncomfortable by these comments. What I am is stunned that she would make them in a professional environment. Having given you a bit of background perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised by what happened recently.
I was in the laboratory when she came in, ostensibly to ask me to e-mail her a few needed files. She started off the conversation by telling me how hungry she was. As it was 2:30 I asked why she hadn’t eaten lunch. It was then that she told me that she had had a “waxing appointment. Upon hearing that I immediately scanned her face for evidence of recently sculpted eyebrows, or even a red mark where a mustache used to be but there was nothing. Knowing where the conversation could be leading I said absolutely nothing. She, of course, wouldn’t let that go. She went on to tell me that unfortunately her “regular” wasn’t there so she couldn’t actually get anything done. This brought a glimmer of hope, perhaps she had back hair? Why would she need to go to one particular woman for grooming anything else? I responded with an “Oh, you have one particular woman that you like?” Bad move, it was just the in she was waiting for and replied “Oh no, the other women aren’t qualified to do Brazilians.”
How the hell am I supposed to respond to that? I almost laughed at the ridiculousness of the forced statement. The only thing I could come up with was “Wow, you need to be certified to do that? Does that come with a diploma you hang on your wall? What type of training does that entail?” When in doubt, immediately go into logistics, that way you can avoid any emotional content. She had no answer (fortunately) and left. I would complain if it wasn’t hilarious. Of course, if the comments become directed I will have to say something. What, I have no idea. I just have to wonder though, what goes through someone’s mind when they decide to say things like that? Were they brought up by parents who owned chains of porn shops? Were they so sheltered they feel they need to react to their prior constraints? In any case, the next time you are going for an “All Out” bikini wax make sure you search for the diploma on the wall. Apparently they are required.