Thursday, September 23, 2004

war of the roses

I like my co-workers at EC, expat and Korean. I also like my students (on the whole). But as I and several of my colleagues agree, the office dynamic contains a good measure of dysfunctionality, as is true of any office anywhere in the world.

Case in point: yesterday evening, a co-worker had a cold and I felt like I might have been developing a fever. According to policy, we have to ask permission to leave the office, so I strolled by the front desk and asked if I could step out for a bit to hunt down some medicine. Miss Midriff (I mentioned her here) barked, "No!", then laughed. I took this in stride, and half-jokingly promised her and her fellow receptionist a rose upon my return as a bribe in exchange for temporary liberty.

So I left the building and went looking for some meds at the local pharmacy. While on my way back, I decided: Hell, why not? --and bought two pink roses for the receptionists. Totally spur of the moment. And not a big deal: I chose pink, not red.

So I got back up to EC and whipped the roses out in front for the receptionists. Another teacher, K, was there. The receptionists squealed with delight when they saw the roses, and I explained to K what I just explained to you. A few seconds later, Our Boss stepped out and wondered what the commotion was. She saw the flowers and asked where they came from. My ladies chirped, "Kevin got them for us!" Our Boss said to me, "But where's mine?"

I smiled and played it off as best I could, but to be honest, I thought Our Boss was being a bit peevish. She still had a smile on her face, so I pretended she had been joking and explained to her the same thing I explained to K and to you, Dear Reader. More jokes were exchanged; I thought that was the end of the matter.

A few minutes later, as I was lounging, Jabba-like, in the staff room, K came over and said the boss was very disappointed not to have received a rose of her own. I had little sympathy for that: I'm not keen on selling my soul to management, considering they've already asked me to work three full Saturdays in October. If she wants a damn rose, she can get one of her own.

I spoke with my evening co-teacher, who also goes by the initial J, and her feeling was that the whole incident isn't a big deal. I sure as hell hope it isn't, but I can't help thinking that either Our Boss or K (or both) has a tendency to complicate things. It was a simple, spontaneous gesture, immediately pissed on by the hairy donkey dick of catty office politics. I'll be curious to see what happens in the next two days. I confirmed with my male co-workers that I shouldn't budge (they gave their stoic grunts and nods of approval), so I'm officially in No Flowers for Our Boss mode. J's also told me that Our Boss has gotten flowers from an as-yet-unnamed source, perhaps a secret admirer. Surely this must be someone who doesn't know her well.

Vulcan society, as any fan of Star Trek knows, is an enlightened matriarchy. An anthropologist visiting EC will immediately descry superficial similarities between Vulcan and our office: at EC, the women rule. But within five minutes he'll also notice that our matriarchy is governed less by logic and more by the psychedelic vagaries of human estrogen. The EC situation might make for an interesting Trek scenario: imagine the crew of the Enterprise trapped far underground in some cave ruled by a gigantic, maleficent ovary.


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