Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Unpacking is not so bad.

So, we moved and are almost settled in. And it may be a miracle that I am not in a mental ward, really. Not from moving so much as from work, though.

I recently started working with another group within my department on another project. That’s how it works around here. You go where the money (i.e. project with money) is. I actually requested to work on this particular project because it was working with LabVIEW , one of my favorites (maybe not anymore, but we will get to that).

So, new project, new people. I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess I expected to have a pleasant experience. I knew I liked LabVIEW and was fairly good at it. And I figured I would get along with the people pretty well. I really had no reason to expect otherwise. I always had good working relationships with all of my co-workers. Maybe it’s because I work mainly with men.

The project started out pretty well. I expressed to them that I really wanted detailed specifications about exactly what they wanted me to do and when they expected it. The project director told me they really do not have any detailed specifications and because of that they won’t hold me accountable for any.

Without getting into the technical details that will probably bore you to tears, I will just say that they did have specifications and they most certainly held me to them. Furthermore, when I didn’t deliver what they expected, they put a co-op (a student worker) above me, claiming he’s way superior to the norm. What’s worse, they talk about other employees behind their backs (me included, I’m sure).

This snotty-nose superior co-op 'accidentally' wrote over some of my work when I was out of town, claiming my code didn’t work anyway. Even if my code didn’t work (which actually, it did), he should have been more careful.

I vented to one of my (cool, almost retired, so doesn't care about sharing information) co-workers about it and asked for advice. Usually, if I am having a problem that he thinks is silly, he will tell me to "Stop crying". Then I know not to raise a fuss about it. Anyway, when I told him the story, he was livid. He told me that I should get all up in the kid’s face and tell him: “Don’t TOUCH my STUFF”.

I explained to Bob, that as a black female, I am more likely to get a bad reputation for being a drama queen and having an ‘Attitude Problem’. But he insisted that BECAUSE I am a black girl, I can get away with it. “Really?”, I was thinking. Can I really express myself unabashedly, and get away with it? No. I actually did tell the co-op not to touch my stuff in no uncertain terms (without getting all up in his face – even though he so deserved it!) and we ended up arguing about my code not working and the instrument being flakey. Others were around.

Next thing I know, the project director is calling me in his office along with the lab manager telling me that “We don’t handle things like that around here.” And “No one is above anyone.” I tried to explain to him that I don’t usually handle things like that, either. I have never gotten into any kind of argument with anyone at work. Then I asked him if he was going to talk to the co-op. He looked at me blankly, and replied: “If you think I should.” What? If no one is above anyone, and you don’t handle things around here like that, why are you only talking to me about it???

They definitely think I am some kind of drama queen. An incompetent drama queen at that. This is more than a little discouraging.

To make matters worse, the project director took it upon himself to sit with me one afternoon and try to figure out some of the stuff I was tasked to do. Well, one particular issue with putting the software into source control was taking a while for even him to figure out (and at several years during his career, he solely worked with LabVIEW). He told me to give him a few minutes and I left to work on something else. Once he figured it out, I proceeded to write down the steps that he took. He started acting as if something was bothering him. I tried to ignore the little voice in my head that was telling me it was ME annoying him. Until, out of the blue, he was like: “Frankly, it’s bothering me that you have to write down every single step.” He said something like he wants me to be able to think – and not just mindlessly write steps down.

I don’t think I need to explain how ridiculous that statement is. But I will just in case. First of all, writing down steps does not mean I don't understand or that I don't get it. It may mean that I want the steps for future reference. Furthermore, had HE written it down long time ago, he would have remembered himself and not wasted all that time figuring it out again. But let's just say that I didn't get it. Maybe writing it down will allow me to go over it in my own time so that I will get it!

As you can see, his complaints are invalid on many levels. However, at the time I considered it a valid complaint. I was thinking: “Man, why DO I have to write it down? Why can’t I just remember? Better yet, why didn’t I know how to do it in the first place?” I cried silently.

Anyway, it’s gotten slightly better. One reason is probably because they took me off of the LabVIEW assignment and put me on a more well defined task. They put that co-op on LabVIEW. I would check his current work and see if he is delivering – but it would be terrible for my ego if he is doing a great job.


Steph said...

girl, whatever!!! you better be glad you got away from those clowns. they were just punking you because you are a young, black female. you should write a letter to the manager and let him/her know how unwelcomed you felt and that they're losers!

Ayana said...

I am not really 'away' from them. I am just working on a different assignment on the same project. This assignment allows me to mainly work in my office. But I will be done soon and will have to go back into the lab :(.

Michael Aivaliotis said...

That's too bad. LabVIEW is a great fun language with lot's of room to grow. I would try to get back into the programming. It's great for your career.