March 21, 2018

stromboli

Some say it's easier now for women in the tech field than it once was.  That is, to quote Douglas Adams, so much cross-eyed badger spit.  Absolute bollocks.  We're here, mind you, but it's touch and go sometimes.

One of my zig-zag career moves meant taking the lowliest position available in our tech department here.  I was designated to clean up "The Cage".  The Cage was the storage area for computer parts, old power cords, tangles of network cables, and whatever anyone felt like putting back on any old shelf.  Years of disorganization and haphazard tossing of objects had created the ultimate Rubik's cube of inventory.

It took four full months of moving, sorting, hauling, ladder-climbing, learning about network equipment, and cataloging, but The Cage was sparkling when I finished, and anyone who came looking for a gonculator or double-edged franistan could walk right up to it and find it, instead of undertaking a half-day's digging and poking about.  It felt good.

Afterward, I was moved into The Shop, where the other (male) technicians had their messy desks covered in various cords, empty Mountain Dew bottles, and "just in case" laptop parts.  It was heaven.  I was tasked with managing printer toner dispatches and helping "the guys" with their computer repairs when they got overwhelmed.  No more hiding my penchant in file cabinet drawers.

I'd go out with them to remote sites sometimes, help carry ladders, insist on pulling my weight.  I worked harder than they did, on purpose.  They tried to make it easy on me and I wouldn't let them.  Sometimes they looked worried when I was wielding a simple screwdriver.  I ended up as more of a sidekick than a technician.

Back at base, I was a female, in their Shop.  My presence was a cork stoppering their banter and sense of ease, probably because they liked to let swearing fly and even make the occasional misogynistic joke.  They wanted to crank up the radio and play "I Got Ninety-Nine Problems and a Bitch Ain't One".  You could feel it in the air.  I was harshing their buzz.  I needed, desperately wanted, to be one of them, just one of the guys.  Even being openly gay did nothing.  Their mamas had taught them what to do in the presence of a lady.  Behave yourself.  Sit up straight.  I had to show them I was no lady.

Enter the stromboli, stage left.  I had a rapport with the technician who had served my former office location, and he was a lifeline for me.  He would walk into the office and just say, "Bitches," and keep walking.  Banter.  He knew I fit there, but the others did not.  And he found out I had just begun eating low-carb.  So one day, he and a few of the other guys were at lunch at an Italian joint in a strip mall, and he ordered a beautiful steak stromboli.  And snapped a photo of it, because I couldn't have it, and texted it to me with the statement, "Stromboli, bitches."

His phone had a good camera.

I looked at the glistening work of art, strips of dough baked over juicy beef, and replied, "You suck the greasy, smoking, festering, boil-covered, nit-crawling cock of Satan."

He showed this to the others at the table.  Their eyes got big.  They looked at each other.

Word got around.  And after that, I was one of the guys.

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