It’s All About Work

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

January 10, 2013


Categories: Blogging Before SEO

My co-worker said she likes it when I write about work.


She likes it? What do I say? I have all these questions in my head, but I respond with, “Oh.” A sort of space between acknowledgement and a question. It’s really a question. Why does she like it when I write about work? I conclude she must be amused. What else could it be?

So, today, I’ll write about work.

“The most effective people are those who can “hold” their vision while remaining committed to seeing current reality clearly”
– Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization

Wednesday, I was errand girl. Errand Girl is my least favorite hat to wear at work. I will even complain about it – out loud, but not to the one who made me Errand Girl. How is that for Childish?!

So, I knew on Tuesday that I would have to play Errand Girl on Wednesday. I was thankful for the planning attached, however, it interrupted my morning and continues to put things that were not previously urgent on my plate, onto my plate with the label urgent. Co-workers having lunch, I am sorry to say, is not important to me. Me, having lunch, is important to me. But, playing Errand Girl to allow co-workers to have lunch isn’t about me. It’s about them.

Sure, I appreciate the courtesy. Paying for lunch so worker bees can eat and meet is a nice thing to do. If I were to take the proverbial high road (read some posts and you can see I am not on a track for that lately!) I would appreciate the chance to take a walk. I would appreciate the responsibility of handling monies for the company. I would appreciate the wonder of riding the streetcar. I would appreciate the relational experience of interacting with the nice woman who run the café.

And, I do appreciate all those things. However…

However, they are submerged under this cloud of playing servant girl.

Do you remember the movie Working Girl with Melanie Griffith? She had all these great ideas and couldn’t get them in front of her boss because she was forever viewed as just the secretary. Through the whole movie, she worked, she connived, she manipulated the system so that she is finally seen as what she is: a person with great ideas who happens to be a woman who happens to have a secretarial role. What do you suppose the first thing she did when she was promoted and assigned a secretary of her own?

She refused coffee. That’s right. Refused the coffee. Her new secretary asked, “Can I get you a cup?” (Or something similar.) Melanie’s character refused. Only get me coffee if you’re getting some yourself.

Okay, maybe I’m being a typical American here. Typically getting my ego into the mix and not being appreciative of the job I have. Thinking I’m too good for food service since I’ve long been out of it. Thinking I’m too good to be the organization’s housekeeper and hostess of all things.

But, it really burns my britches. I have been the only assistant because the organization had to make cutbacks. Then, the organization made changes that didn’t allow for full communication that showcased how I took on additional roles in order to help the organization. When did those extra roles because servant roles? [This is not be confused with servant leadership which does take the high road.]

I am forever constrained in Quadrant I and III – never getting into Quadrant II to make a planful difference. I don’t say no. I don’t ask for help. So, I further the cycle of being the Catch-All-Girl.

If they really wanted lunch, they should have made plans to get it themselves. If they wanted lunch to be catered, for $5/sandwich more, I’d be happy to coordinate delivery. If you want me to pick it up, why not offer to buy mine too?

I think part of feminism is getting out of these servant roles. It’s a recognition that we all have a choice to be here. So, man up, be responsible, and take care of your own needs. I’ll agree to getting your lunch for you, charging it on my own card, then having to ask for reimbursement, until I find a job that is more flexible. Then, you’ll have to hire a new Errand Girl. Maybe she’ll take the high road and be more open to all facets of servant leadership.

“In the presence of greatness, pettiness disappears. In the absence of a great dream, pettiness prevails.”
– Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization

I don’t think I’ve done enough to hammer the point that it’s those tasks, that are forced without asking, how it comes off as degrading. It’s hardly a way for me to play to my strengths or get the other necessary tasks done that I have. So, it’s degrading and inconsiderate. It continues the assumption that I’ll be here to clean up your mess and provide. Yet, at the same time, my wage hasn’t been remedied. My job role hasn’t been reviewed or audited. It really spirals this toxic environment in which we’ve subjected ourselves. And, that’s why I don’t like wearing the Errand Girl hat.


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