Jumping Jeebus on pogo stick, you wouldn’t think it’d be so hard to be nice to somebody. My team at work got a new manager. Half of my team is in Boulder. Half is in Utrecht (The Netherlands). And my new manager is in … California. (Which is an improvement over my last manager’s time zone: London.) The new manager seems like a decent guy and is trying to build a sense of comraderie and trust with us. (We underlings have been working together for some time and so already know each other fairly decently.) So, he’s coming to the Boulder office for starters.
We have a huge building here, built in the late 90’s when the company thought that they were going to grow this office into a major tech support center. We never even filled out the 3rd floor. And now most of the 1st and 2nd are cubical graveyards because, every time someone leaves, we hire someone in India or China to replace them. Just walk into the building and you can feel how stagnant the energy is. Occasionally, some tries to liven it up and bit by posting some sudokus on the bulletin board. But then there are some days when it’s so deathly quiet that I start to wonder if I’m the last human on earth until I look outside and see people enjoying themselves on the bike path out in the sun. To top it off, the cubicle walls are grey. (OK, I can’t completely dis it because I have a window cube that looks out onto wetlands and a bike path.)
Needless to say, it’s not a particularly warm and friendly environment. But we’ve got the new manager coming and I, for one, need to feel like I’ve got a decent personal connection with guy if I’m going to trust him. Corporate is making the investment to fly him out here and put him up in a hotel for two days. So, you’d think that they’d want to make the most of the opportunity (especially since they are usually such tight wads about travel) and give the new guy a cube or office near his people so that we could all actually get to know each other just by being around each other and not having to have a formal meeting every time we want to have a short, friendly conversation. But noooOOOOOoooo.
Facilities informs me that we only have a limited number of phones and so we can’t be moving one around willy nilly every time a visitor comes to town. So, there are only a handful of pre-wired places for the visitor to sit. And all of them are inhospitable (like right on the hallway at the top of the stairs by the bathrooms) or so far away that he’d have to pack a lunch when he was ready to venture out and drop in on his new minions. But no exceptions will be made.
And this is one thing I hate about working in corporate, archetypally masculine, minutiae grubbing environments: Relationships and quality attention to interactions and spaces are treated as frivolous and unworthy of consideration. I wonder if my new manager feels as slighted as I do by being stuffed in some out of the way hole. I can say, for me, the company’s response to me trying to make someone feel valued and welcome makes me feel unvalued and unwelcome. That we may be on a tight budget during hard times, I could understand. But our CEO makes about $2 million a year and we keep buying up small companies. So, it’s not a matter of no coins in the coffee can, it’s a matter of values. And, secondly, I probably wouldn’t be all off on a rant here if my request had been met with an acknowledgement of the worth of what I was trying to do and some statement of regret that we couldn’t handle that the best way we’d like to. That part is just inexcusable. To me, it’s like inviting someone to visit and then not picking them up at the airport, not making them dinner, not freshening up their room. You just throw them the keys to the house, point at the refridgerator, and grunt that you’ll be back later some time. It’s just rude.
Lately, things have been going a wee bit better for me at my job. I’ve been a more engaged with the work and the team and less depressed and burnt out. But this has renewed my cynicsm. If I stay in this kind of environment, I will be a bitter curmudgeon by the time I’m forty. I’m drowning here.