Friday, November 21, 2014

The working life with engineers: Having my cake and eating it too

Have I told you guys I have a new job? Well I do and oh man it is like night and day from the old job. Until you have worked with either a really bad boss or with a horrible CEO, you have no idea. I expect it's like people who have horrible in-laws but nobody believes the stories because their own in-laws are so nice. "Nobody has in-laws that get drunk every single day and call their own son a 'Bad Son!'" they chuckle. "That's not how people act."

But then your best friend, whom you have known for years and whose judgment you trust completely, tells you that her in-laws are crazy drunks and you have to re-think things.

Same thing with the job. If you have never had a bad boss or a bad CEO - and I don't mean just incompetent, I mean vindictive, mean, sarcastic, vicious - then you have no idea. None.

I didn't. Not until my most recent job. I have had moderately incompetent bosses before but they were always nice. They were always people whom I would be happy to have as next-door neighbors. They just were not good bosses. I would probably be a crummy boss. I hate dealing with people issues. I would be a good boss of good people, but I would be a crummy boss of bad people because I hate dealing with other people's incompetence.

So I had never had a truly bad boss until my most recent job and then I learned how awful work can be. I learned that you can dread going to work and that you spend every minute of free time looking for a new job and that you apply for over 100 jobs in a few months just to get three phone interviews, two in-person interviews, and, finally, one job offer.

It is hard work indeed to look for a job and I don't wish that task on anyone. Almost anyone. There are a few nasty people I have known who deserve that kind of stress, but only two or three. I won't name names because - well, because it doesn't seem like a good idea.

So I got a new job and I have been there a little while and can I tell you it is sooooo great. I mean, I don't take the bus to work any more and I hate that part. I hate driving and I especially hate driving after dark because glare gives me a headache.  I wonder what has happened with Goth Girl and Goth Boy. Did they find happy ever after? We will never know because I will probably never see them again.

And I don't like my new workspace. I used to have a window office overlooking the river downtown, but that was going to go away because the awful CEO had decided that people work better on open plan and he remodeled the offices so that nobody has a private office any more except him because of course a CEO cannot possibly work better in open plan. So even if I had stayed, I would now be in an awful workspace.

What I like the most about my new job is that I have a good boss whom I respect because he is not incompetent and I work with smart people. I work with almost all engineers who are, kind of by definition, smart.

They are smart and they are logical and there are no games and there is no drama.

They are smart and logical and when there is a potluck, they do it right.

There was a potluck last week. I took Julie's marzipan polenta cake, which is one of the few non-chocolate desserts SH doesn't heave deep, disappointed sighs about. It is delicious. He wanted to cut a slice of it before I took it to work.

I was appalled. "I can't take a partial cake to a work potluck!" I said.

"But why not?" he asked. "You'll bring some home to me if there are leftovers, right?"

"Yes," I admitted.

"This is just making sure there are leftovers."

I shook my head. "It's tacky."

He disagreed, so I put the question to facebook and of course everyone agreed with me.

Well. I went back and checked. Two of my friends agreed; a third said, "Aren't the coworkers engineers? They'd appreciate the efficiency of polenta cake separation."

I took the whole cake to the potluck, as was proper. But I was curious to get an engineer's perspective on the question - a disinterested engineer. So I asked. I asked several engineers. What would they have thought about an incomplete cake at a potluck?

They all shrugged. They all wanted to know why it would have been a big deal. An incomplete cake would not have bothered them, they said.

And then one of the few female engineers said, "I would rather keep my husband happy than keep my co-workers happy."



Cleo from Jersey said...

Well, I, too, have had a couple of really mean, nasty, sabotaging bosses. I am sad to say they were all women. I've had some bad, male bosses, but they were never mean....just not very efficient because they always trusted the word of "not so great" employees. Now, I work for myself; not terrific, but much less drama. Angela Muller

Teen! said...

Yes! To all of the tech specifications.
I've always worked in a bse+ based world, but this newgig is all perhaps/maybes/let's see. Can you imagine my daily (hourly) frustrations? Btw, management is nice, but I won't be able to survive much longer. Wish me luck. I'm headed back out there.