Friday, March 14, 2014

Theory 36: Men are easier to work with than women.

I admit it; I’ve been on a male-bashing kick through some of the other theories. Male readers, I love and appreciate you more than you know. I once heard a TV personality say that “Funny women aren't sexy.” If you don’t think I’m sexy, but you DO think I’m funny, I am honored. I already have Tall Child as my lover boy, so it’s okay. As an only child with only one marriage to date (unless you count Joe L. in Mississippi), I relate to male co-workers as brothers. I look to you men folks for guidance, camaraderie, expertise, and humor. I genuinely enjoy collegiate relationships with men. If you teach with me, I pray I earn some kudos for taking one on the proverbial chin to recognize your skills and call a spade a spade. Especially since Big Red is hit or miss and I may need a ride home at any point.

Ladies, I’m asking now for forgiveness and tolerance as you read Theory 36. This is your chance to “think outside the barn” – especially if you are a stubborn mule. Hang with me til the end, because 1) I do call a spade a spade, and 2) you are the spades today. Heck, one of you may even be the ace of spades in her office. And, the devil is in the details, right?

Bug's To-Do List

Tall Child's To-Do List

I’m not one of those women who doesn’t have female friends. I adore my best girlfriends and treasure every moment with them. Honestly, my life would be sad without them. I’m not a jock fly. I have nothing to contribute to sports talk with “the boys.” What I’m saying in this Theory is that I’ve noticed some major differences in the ways that women behave (as a group, not as individuals – chillllllllll) at work compared to the way men behave at work. Men are easier to work with than women.  

Shall we work our way up my not-too-impressive resume to explore this theory?

The Track: I handed out skee ball prizes in the noisy arcade, arranged tiny putters in the golf shack, and docked tourists into the bumper boat mini-marina a couple of summers at The Track in Pigeon Forge, TN. My female teen co-workers wined about the weather. They obsessed over neatness in the ice cream shop. They hated the uniforms. The boys worked on their tans as they drug entangled cars back on track. They flexed muscle as they rescued spinning fat tourons from the outer edges of the bumper boat pool. (FYI - Tourists always choke under pressure when it’s time to dock.) It was the late eighties, early nineties. The boys embraced the polo shirts and accessorized with thick gold chains and flipped collars.

IHOP/Assorted other restaurants:
I stacked plates, served up sausage, eggs, and pancakes, impatiently guided local and visiting weirdoes and hogs (cannibals!) through the menu, and performed miserable side work one summer at IHOP. Everyone should work in a restaurant. For the most part, the servers were female and the management and line cooks were male. The head waitress may just be the meanest job on Earth. I’ll call my head waitress “Leggs” because she raised cane when we showed up without our “stockings” on. Who doesn’t want to stand in a 100-degree kitchen in panty hose, an apron, a vest, and, of course, a bow tie. Nothing is more humiliating than a bow-tie when you are a nineteen-year-old girl in pantyhose and high top Reeboks (except mine were Kmart brand of Reeboks, whatever those were.) The chief line man, I’ll call him Fry Daddy because he was bad-A with a skillet, ya'll, was cool under fire. Waitress fights are the best fights because of three elements: 1) kitchen soap-opera style romance, 2) nicotine and coffee highs, and 3) the fact that while all the hysterics are playing out, the line cooks (the men who instigated the issue at hand) are wheezing with laughter as they stack cured bacon and the customers are waiting on their “Rooty Tooty Fresh-n-Fruity pancake platters. I was miserable when I was at IHOP because my father had just died. “Leggs” took no pity on me, but “Fry Daddy” snuck me special chocolate chip pancakes at the end of every shift.

The Bank:
From age twenty-five to thirty, I was a branch manager at a large regional bank branch. My staff consisted primarily of women, all older than I. Heck, they were even older than Delicious.  They were great workers, no doubt, but they argued over the most ridiculous things. I had to referee between sixty-something year-old women because Teller A didn’t get to take her fibromyalgia medicine with food because Teller B was three minutes late coming back from lunch. I was a great leader. A profound thinker. I sang “Eat it anyway” in Martina McBride “Pray it anyway” fashion. I coached, “Well, Teller A, why don’t you just eat something and take your medicine when it’s healthy to do so?”

She argued (of course), “Well, the employee handbooks says you can’t eat in your teller stall.” Stall. Appropriate for that one. She could be a real horse’s….

Teller B was problematic. In a confidential annual review, I congratulated her “Folks all over town know and love you as Mrs. H at the bank. You have a wonderful relationship with our clients and I appreciate that.” She marched, chin up, waistband really up, back to the teller line and said, “Manager Bug just told me that I am the best teller at this branch!”

Once, a co-worker said to me, “Bug, you kinda work like a man.”

“Thank you,” I said.

Last week (early March), two days after the spring forward miserable time change, a couple of female teachers at my school decided we needed to have a 7:45 a.m. (6:45 a.m. body clock time) meeting to discuss 9th Grade Awards Day, which will take place in mid-May.

I watched as the women brought up issue after issue and used words like “push back” and “feelings” and assorted questions like, “Should we give awards to one boy and one girl in each course or one girl and one boy in each class roster,” and “what about those kids who aren’t good students but are really nice and try hard.”  Sleep-deprived and honestly annoyed as the person who not only types up the awards, but also announces and hands them out on awards day, my workin’ man self kicked in. I said, “Ya’ll are Obama-ing this event all up. This is an elite school. Each teacher should pick his/her one top student by looking at the grade book. We need to George W. this. Pick ‘em up. Lay ‘em down. Recognize the absolutely smartest student in each course. Period.” I even borrowed some hand motions from my buddy Downton Gams and did a band director type motion saying, “Done. That’s it. Done. Finished. Done.”

I scanned the desks to measure response. The guys’ faces relaxed as if they’d seen the promised land of the meeting’s end. The women’s faces contorted with bulging, rolling eyes and cocked heads. Cocked and ready. For a fight? This will no doubt play out for the next two months. My bad.

I sat in a meeting with the Authors Guild of TN just yesterday. I observed as women writers tenacious tore up and revised our by-laws. Seriously, at one point, I saw two male writers scratch their heads at the same time.
 ~  ~ ~

As usual, I tested this theory with the future of America, also known as high school freshmen. Today’s teenagers are tolerant, open-minded, forgiving, and way more respectful than grown-ups realize. The girls are beyond feminism. To them, Roe V. Wade is a history text. The “glass-ceiling” is some sort of skylight. Equality in the work place means two days bagging groceries, two days stocking groceries, two days dragging shopping buggies from the parking lot.

I stood in front of my classroom and challenged them, “Okay boys and girls (they may be teenagers but they love to be called ‘boys and girls’), I want to know if you agree with this theory or not, and if you do, why. Tell the truth. This is a safe place.”  I stated, “Men are easier to work with than women.”

Hands flagged the stale classroom air. My bold pupils offered up the following statements to back my theory:

BOYS said:
Women nag.
Men can be persuaded.
Women want to do it perfectly. We just want to do it however we can get it done the fastest then go watch sports.
Women are more expensive, even at jobs.

GIRLS said:
Women like to argue.
Men are easy to control.
I like working with guys because they get out of the way and I can just do everything.

Attitude is Everything
~ ~ ~
I posted the same question to my Theories: Size 12 Facebook page. The responses poured in (secretly, of course).

One friend offered that her 10-year-old son made the following statement: “When girls are together, they fight about things that don’t matter and stay mad. Boys have an argument and they forget it about it five minutes later.”

I agree. I’m also pleased that this young boy notes that boys forget things. Hmmm. Maybe if all these boys would remember things these women wouldn’t be so touchy. Or, is it just our nature to be “on guard.” Let’s read what others had to say:

“Men gossip as much as women, but women are masters at backbiting then acting like they are your best friends. Men have no clue what's going on. Women know and then [complain as in female dog] about the men being clueless. Overall, I prefer working alone!”

“Absolutely men are easier! No PMS, no hormones raging. I've found men either fear me and we get along great, or they hate me and we still get along, or they don't understand women and just do as they are told!”
“Since the ripe old age of 21, I have worked in the same place in a managerial position. I love my job. I couldn't ask for a better boss. He is loyal and generous to his employees and provides a fair work environment, a kind ear, and sage advice to both the staff and clients. But, when my boss retires, I have vowed to never work in a managerial position again. The problem? The women I work with. Personally and individually, they are funny, and kind, but as a group, they are [female dog-gy}, back-biting, accusatory, snarky, and a ridiculous bunch of middle school girls, which is funny, in an ironic way, because they are all at least 10-30 years older than I am. What the? They whine, they gossip, and they blame each other for mistakes. They gang up on each other and break into teams against each other. Because my boss is loyal, sometimes to a fault, he does not allow anybody to be fired unless she is morally corrupt or criminal, so I am left to herd the [wild]cats. I spend half of my job smoothing ruffled [fur] and determining what really needs to be acted on and what is just snarkiness.... Most is just snarkiness. In my experience, men don't do this. Grudges aren't held, comments aren't remembered, and they don't cry to their bosses. Middle school girls are hard to live with, but middle-aged middle school girls make you want to hurt somebody.... Usually myself, with an ice pick through my ear drums.”

One of my buddies (for fluency with anonymity, I’ll nickname her for this post only as “Breaking Dam”) messaged me that at first she was stumped by my question, but then, as she started examining her own experiences, “the dam broke free.” She even tossed in some math, to which I added:

Breaking Dam:            Women + a Few Gay Men = DRAMA
Women + Straight Men = SUCCESS
Bug:                             Men + Men = Unsafe work environment, call OSHA
                                    Women + Women = No wonder we are all tired.

Breaking Dam also reminded me of the almost supernatural element that can cook anyone’s grits: hormones. We all know where testosterone points. Here, we are discussing the particular hormones that women battle to balance. Delicious swears that the Salem Witch trials were just a persecution of menopausal women. Oh, and God bless us, some women get testosterone injections. I took heavy doses of progesterone when trying to conceive. All that did was make me as mean as a striped snake. And fat. Fat just makes us meaner, too, by the way. Fat and jolly? That’s Santa Claus, not the head teller.

Breaking Dam tagged females as “estrogens” and males as “testosterones.” I quote and paraphrase. Students, forgive my lack of proper citations. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Here are Breaking Dam’s observations after numerous years in corporate and philanthropic endeavors:

Estrogens: The competition gets fierce and full of backstabbing and indecisive conversation. No team building, but lots of alliance-making. A woman on a mission is just plain dangerous.
Testosterones: Healthy competition. Men know who the chief is. They know their roles.

Estrogens: Want to know everyone’s business.
Testosterones: Get down to business.

Estrogens: A seemingly simple task/project/event snow balls into a cluster mess of needless extra rules and side work. Instead of just leading the committee, estrogens involve other estrogens in decisions, thus mucking up a process. Estrogens yack yack yack about where to put a tent.
Testosterones: Erect the tent.

~ ~ ~

I just remembered that I, Bug, have a medical condition that prevents me from taking female hormone therapy when I hit menopause. Watch your back, Tall Child!

Well, that’s your lesson for today ladies and gents. Ladies, I hope I didn't run you off! Cause I need readers, and I'm one of you. Readers, to test your new skills, I’ve prepared a  Common Core performance-based assessment for you (you should hear all the mama’s [female dog} about Common Core, ya’ll):

“Informational Text” – A Marital Case Study
One house contains two adults. One is male. One is female. There are two adult brains in the house. Each brain consists of two halves. Remember, students, there are never more than two halves of anything. The female person uses both halves of her brain in every decision she makes; she attaches emotion and consequence to each cerebral choice. The man uses the left side of his brain, primarily, until he’s in a pickle, or until he almost loses the female half of the house’s population. Typically, the male completes projects with little or no internal or external chatter. Eventually, anyway.

Prompt 1 – Literary analysis: What is the author’s claim? What evidence in your life and in this text supports the author’s claim?

Prompt 2 – Mathematical analysis: If the female uses both hemispheres of her brain and the male uses only one of the two hemispheres of his brain, can we conclude that the loud, busy, female is twice as smart as her calmer, quieter, more decisive coed? Hmmm.

You do the math.

~ ~ ~

Some philosopher, I forget his name (I think he was Greek), claimed that knowing oneself—particularly one’s own faults and limitations—is the highest form of wisdom. Readers, all the responses I listed came from women. Just sayin’.

Take a gander at Delicious as she stood in front of her Columbus, GA junior high classroom in 1972 and in Gatlinburg, TN in 1977.

A succinct, searing, deliberate glance from a young English teacher Delicious.

Delicious poses for her first yearbook photo in Gatlinburg. Cool teacher lady.

What a fierce beauty, ready for battle. Although, I assure you, she “worked like a man” and taught and teaches me constantly about how to navigate humanity. I have finally given up and given in to her abundant advice. Instead of fighting the natural current to becoming my mother, I now hop into the riptide. I embrace my Junior Delicious self. Which brings me to next week’s theory, Theory 37: Women become their mothers,whether they like it or not.

Next week’s theory maybe post week after next. I’m on spring break. Whooooooop! Don’t go burglarizing and ruining holidays for me, though, cause I’m home and armed with new security and a hot pink can of mace. Maybe I should take it to work, in case awards day gets out of hand.

See you next post! Until then, be kind to one another and think outside the barn.

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...