Thursday, August 28, 2008

This is going to take some adjustment.

It's been about a week since my last update, so let me fill you in on the move.  Germany looks remarkably like Lackawanna County in Pennsylvania.  There are a lot of trees and gentle mountains and the little living areas are very spaced out.  Lots of farmland and wilderness too.  My coworker told me this area is known as the "Black Forest."  Yes, of Frau Totenkinder fame.  I like the climate, it's cold and rainy.  Haven't dealt with too many Germans yet--potential landladies excluded--but I can see my work's cut out with me in the new office with all the other transplanted Americans.

I am the only woman in the shop, which isn't too surprising.  Depressingly few women go for my career field, I'm only accidentally in it myself.   I'm actually one of four women in the building, which is a tad bit disconcerting.  That my shop hasn't had a female technician assigned to it for almost three years prior to my arrival is downright infuriating.  Something needs to be done about the lack of women in technical career fields.

In the meantime, a shop that is very set in its ways tries to adjust to mixed company.   The ground rules about profanity have been laid, but two incidents display the difficulty that still exists here. Last week I found myself without anything to do and so I tried to sort a particularly annoying pile of junk.  The boss was quickly disturbed by this and insisted that disorder and chaos were the proper way of the world.  For my part I fell into the stereotypical role of the only woman in a small group and continued to arrange things as I saw fit.  The rest of the shop was very amused, and started taking bets on what week I'd lose my sanity.

Today in the office they were rearranging the notices and bulletin boards on the wall to accommodate a very large whiteboard.  The men were asking each other if it might fit the spot on the wall they'd cleared for it.  Now, everyone in this shop carries personal tools attached to their belt depending on what they need the most so this was a perfectly logical thought on my part.  I asked if any of them were carrying a tape measure so that we could see before they lifted the heavy thing up.

My boss turned to me and said--and don't get me wrong here, he said it with good humor--"We're GUYS!"  because to him maleness implies a lack of logic, organizational skill and good sense.  Personally, I think they're using sexism as a excuse not to do their jobs correctly.  This was a problem in my last office, but getting put in charge of the shift let me teach some of them not to give in to antimasculine stereotypes and just do the fucking job.  I don't have that luxury here, it's the boss who needs the training.

On top of that, they insulted my technical abilities.  The rest of the shop joked that I'd be telling them to read the directions next.    How on earth did they get the idea that using the proper tool to make their job easier was on the same level as consulting the idiot manual?

That aside, I do like the people there.  Very relaxed and full of joking, like a good maintenance shop should be.

And I may have found a place to live.  It has a balcony, a landlady who can't pronounce my name, and the option of DSL so the comics community won't be rid of me just because I'm in German Appalachia now.


  1. Our career field was full of women- 40% female. That said there needs to be an encouragement of women into technical fields in general.

    You still get to do tech work though? I thought you ranked out of that, or is that not until Master? It took Senior in ours to get out of shift work. Then again, I wouldn't have ever wanted to get out.

    Hopefully you'll set everything straight, rock the socks off everyone, and maybe find a Lantern fan in there. ^_^

  2. Whether or not you rank out of it depends on the composition of the shop, silly.

  3. Remember to be true to the American credo: "If you can't speak the language, GET THE FUCK OUT."

  4. Wait...using a tape measure is unmanly? On WHAT planet? Curse you and your womanly logic!

    It does sound pretty though...and a balcony is always nice.

  5. Anon -- I'm not sure what that means. Personally I've always been for multilingual options because I had such trouble learning Spanish as a teenager it seemed unreasonable to expect every immigrant to learn English.

    You're not suggesting every American is a bigot, are you? Or do you just not want me in Germany?

  6. Working in a dis-organized manner is the biggest waste of the most important resource---time.

    There were times at work where someone had to spend an hour or two walking from cabinet to cabinet looking for the right part.