Thursday, March 01, 2012

Be Nice

Well, I'm starting month three of the new job. If I had to pick one word I'd have to go with "Fantastic."

I spent the first week or so basically just finding my way around. I don't mean "learn where the bathroom is" although I did that too. I mean learning my way around the systems. There were a lot of white-board drawings and handwritten stuff documenting how a lot of the systems around here are configured. Since I needed to learn them I transferred them to an electronic format that I could distribute to everyone. It worked out well, I learned a lot, they replied to me with corrections to my drawings and I learned even more.

I wasn't too busy though, and I was starting to feel conspicuously "not busy." All that came to and end when word got out that if you had a problem with the system I support, send an instant message, an email or just call "this guy." I was "this guy" and boy were people looking for someone to call. I got pushed overboard into very deep water and luckily I learned to swim very quickly.

But even the calls and messages coming from all directions were of a type that I'm not accustomed to. They were nice. When I responded and tried to help, they were grateful. Even if I wasn't helping, they seemed grateful that someone was actually trying to help. At first it seemed like all these people were neglected and just grateful to have some attention. But it's a lot more than that.

All my work experience in IT thus for has been in industrial settings. This means 98% male. And you can pretty much throw in the 2% females too, since they always seemed to be trying to prove they were tough enough for the all-male environment of industrial manufacturing. When guys call for help they usually do it begrudgingly. They don't like that they need to call, they don't like you if your system is broken and they aren't usually very grateful if you fix it. Support calls were often just a series of grunts.

Now at least 80% of my interactions are with women. Mostly doctors and nurses or clinical receptionists. Health care is a profession dominated by women, and in almost every interaction the women are nicer. They sound happy to have someone to talk to about their problem. They seem grateful that you care about their issue. They make jokes and laugh at your jokes. They call you sweetie and honey and say "I love you!" when you fix their problem. I never had a single person tell me they loved me at the car plant. Well, maybe the security guard, but that was during a particularly invasive strip search and I think he was just trying to make me feel better.

It's very disconcerting for me to deal with nice people all the time. I try to be as nice as I possibly can and I always have because you never know when you're going to be asking these people for a favor later. Especially for patience when you screw up something, which I tend to do. A Lot.

I told my boss I was not accustomed to people being so nice because of my manufacturing background, and he said he could take care of it by calling some folks and telling them to be mean to me. I told him I'd appreciate that.

1 comment:

JT88Keys said...

I'm picturing you at your old job like this: