Week 10: Fault Lines
Like most wars, this one is about real estate.
Yesterday morning, a company put a large computer screen and various peripherals onto a corner table that my favorite ex-VC guy co-opted as his own.
I asked the company who was moving in? They were bringing on a consultant and got permission to expand. Everything was above board.
A few hours later, ex-VC guy strolled into the office. He saw the equipment and immediately began pouting over who took his table. I did my best to explain the situation, then welcomed him to join the table I was sitting at.
Eventually another fellow arrived and asked why he wasn’t sitting in his usual spot. In response, ex-VC guy exhorted, “She let them do this. She didn’t defend my table. It’s all her fault.” All while waving his hands dismissively in my direction.
Of course, I understood this as some sort of joke.
The other guy just stood by nervously laughing, not sure whether to take him seriously either. And, in my corporate cultural training, all I could do was smile and fake aghast, “Whaaat? When did this become my fault?”
Without missing a beat, he said with a stone cold face, “It’s always your fault.”
The aggressive commentary weighed on me in quiet moments throughout the day. I replayed the exchange in my head, instead saying, “Thankfully, I don’t work for you!”
Perhaps the lesson is not to try to explain things when you have nothing to gain. Perhaps I should have let him flounder. After being in each other’s orbit for ten weeks, I knew he wasn’t the type to appreciate an explanation or even say thank you. I tried to help anyway. And he didn’t.
The balance between taking a joke and calling out sexist behavior is a fine line in the office, any office. My hope in building edittress is to connect more like-minded women (and men!) across experience levels to help each other handle such seemingly innocuous situations that have eluded us for too long.
“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”