So when I was at work on Saturday (Jersey Mike Subs) I started out feeling all happy and energetic. But Hilary – newly promoted to shift supervisor – must have decided that she needed to test out her power over the rest of us. Especially me.
The shift was emptying down – and there were no customers… But you’re still supposed to find something to do and look busy while you’re doing it. I decided to restock the soda machine….
Right in the middle, Hilary said, “Can you get some tomatoes from the walk-in freezer…?”
“Yes,” I said. “When I finish stocking the soda machine…” (But I was thinking to myself… why can’t she get them? Can’t she see I’m busy!? And look at old Brian in the back, playing with his turtleneck. Why didn’t she ask HIM?”
And she did ask Brian… but she couldn’t let it drop.
Next she got my name deliberately wrong. Then she used this patronizing tone to me in front of other people. Finally, she said, “Can you put this in the back?” Then she slid a heavy box across the floor right into my foot.
Well, this time, I had to call her on attitude… “Please don’t patronize me. If you want to do something, you can at least ask nicely.” And I was only getting started, thinking why if you’re the boss, do you need to be so bossy? Especially since our real supervisor Mervyn was in the backroom sneaking a cigarette.
Drama. It’s not what you expect to find at work. I much prefer to encounter it on my laptop. Thanks to Netflix, a whole new world recently opened up to me – K-drama, Korean soaps, where I have become hooked on such shows as별에서 온 그대- [Love from Another Star] and 닥터 이방인- [Dr. Stranger] and 악마를 보았다 – [I Saw the Devil] a horror picture that deals in revenge. I love that with the help of subtitles and technology I get to experience universal stories within a completely different culture with its own unique style. But mostly I like knowing that there is juicy drama everywhere.
Since I wanted to keep my job, when I cooled down, here’s what I figured out. There were two languages being spoken during Hilary’s and my exchange at work. There was the language of the ‘hood when you can tell that the person you’re dealing with has an attitude, a chip on her shoulder, is spoiling for a fight, which in the hood leaves you with just two choices: stand your ground and fight back or slink away like a loser— which reflexively, threw me (temporarily) into ‘hood mode too.
But in the workplace and the wider world you need to learn to speak a different language. Sometimes the only way to win is to secretly embrace the inner satisfaction of noting that your boss has overstepped while outwardly acting like the team player you would be if only they’d asked nicely. If you continually find you can’t do that without a confrontation, you can always quit and find another job. You always have options but sinking to another person’s level isn’t ever one of them. Things have been better between us since I worked that out and she’s eased into her role. As for ‘hood fights, long ago I learned how to see them coming and how to head them off.
In the future I want to be a nurse and help people or be a pediatrician because I love babies. But I’ve watched enough soaps – American and Korean – to know that there will be drama everywhere, especially hospitals!– sometimes with subtitles, usually not. Luckily, thanks to K-Drama, I now know I’ll always know to stop and translate what always going on beneath the surface.