After a decade in corporate workplaces (*shivers*) I know that they aren’t for me (well…I knew right away, but hey, bills still had to be paid, *sigh*) and it’s a fundamental issue. Something at its core doesn’t work for me. It won’t matter if I hopscotch from company to company; it’s the corporate culture at its core that’s the problem. Corporate America hates me as much as I hate it because:
I don’t gossip about people at the water cooler/in the break room or take smoke breaks (I don’t smoke) while skipping lunch to “prove” that I am a “hard worker. ” I don’t pretend to be an extrovert no matter how overvalued they are while I as an introvert am undervalued. I don’t agree with the insults from extroverts that I must “not do any work” since they don’t understand my work and to them work is only sales and nothing that comes before or after a sale. I don’t pretend to do work when I run out of work to do since the work is always easy to complete in the first place since I am a Black woman and never offered any truly challenging work. I don’t do work just to applaud others getting the credit for my work.
I hate cubicles. An aerial view makes humans look like rats in a maze. I don’t keep my desk messy to create the illusion of busyness. I don’t keep my door (when I have one; it’s usually been cubicles) open to convey that I want people to “mingle” with me. I don’t like being forced to stay late or work holidays just because I am single. I don’t like the subtle social and overt penalties people face for taking care of their health by taking off for sick time or vacation time. I don’t want to be micromanaged. I don’t want to deal with ridiculous people who think that if they don’t physically see you do a task, you didn’t do it. I don’t want to be endlessly bothered by anxious and irritating people who cannot handle that for four minutes and thirty seconds, they won’t be the center of my attention as I’m listening to a song on my iPod while I work. I don’t want to be in an atmosphere where a smile or quiet laugh is perceived as laziness and lack of focus, as happiness is deemed not appropriate for the work environment.
I don’t want to go to happy hour. I don’t want to attend 99% of after-work activities, despite being aware of how people are penalized (not getting raises, promotions or insider information) for not being after-work extroverts. I don’t want to discuss my weekend every Monday morning. I did the same thing I did last weekend—tried to forget the job exists. I don’t like meetings. I rather a Novocaine-free root canal with a pair of rusty pliers. I don’t like companies with “do what we say as a ‘team player’ or get out of the way” mentality towards employees. It’s demoralizing and gross. I don’t refer to the company as “we” when discussing it with someone else. I don’t want to be called an “associate” as I own no part of said company. I don’t view coworkers as my “family.” I have a real family that’s ride or die for me.
I don’t like being expected to be the Spokesperson For Every Black Person on Earth, Inc. at any job with more than one White person. I don’t want anyone touching my hair or trying to discuss my hair with me. I don’t want any White women trying to set me up with every Black man that delivers a package or repairs something. I don’t want to hear about all the Black men they’ve slept with or want to sleep with. I don’t want to discuss who I am or am not sleeping with, with them. We aren’t friends.
I don’t laugh at racist/sexist/homophobic jokes or ignore them to “prove” that I am a “team player.” I don’t want to navigate the hideous and racist/sexist world of job interviews where employers think I “tricked” them if they weren’t able to figure out that I am Black prior to the interview. I don’t want to train less qualified, less educated and less experienced Whites who then take a higher paid, more prestigious position once the training is over. I don’t want to have to ignore the fact that at times I will be paid half of what White men are paid for doing the same work. I don’t want to be told “at least” I should be happy for exploitation since the alternative is unemployment, when I’ve been unemployed, underemployed, or employed but exploited my entire adult life. Most of all, I don’t want to endure endless microaggressions and racial/sexual harassment. (I have been harassed at every single job I have ever had in the last 15 years, with the exception of one bookstore job in college.)
In conclusion, I don’t want to play the game of corporate America—because it is that—a game.
I really thought that I could follow the basic rules, do what is required, exceed expectations at times, work quietly with minimal distractions, gather my biweekly paycheck and go the fuck home at a reasonable time daily. Corporate America isn’t designed for this though…at all.