Today, at a rare slow moment in the store, three of us grocery workers were kibbitzing at the front desk. I had actually missed the first part of the conversation, but as I came up one of the workers who I really admire was saying, “The company may treat us like shit, but we love each other.”
I sometimes think it’s a good company and sometimes less so, but it is clear to me that my co-worker relationships make my experience what it is. My customer relationships too, but the co-workers is the real base. And, blessedly, in our store we mostly love each other.
The obvious topic here is “Power to the People” – and I will go into that in some depth in another post – but here I want to follow up on my last post about men and women to look at men and women working together.
My friend Tom Kilby likes to talk about “creepy old guys”, which we agree we both are, him 60 and me 70 working with a lot of attractive young women. Each of us has horniness, each of us is susceptible to sexual thoughts and feelings about co-workers – and here we are working in close proximity to each other, bumping into each other, exchanging sometimes extended hugs. What to do with all this? What keeps it from crossing into a toxic zone?
Four things I have learned from Tom:
- He sees women’s inner beauty. He has described women as beautiful that I would not have thought of this way – but I then started to after he said it.
- He loves to use the word “brilliant” to describe a person or something they did or something that happened. He frequently will describe a female co-worker as brilliant. He affirms them. He sees their intelligence. He admires them.
- He wants to know more about them – he craves opportunities to learn more about them. He soaks up everything he can in little two-minute encounters in the grocery aisles. He will leap at any opportunity to go watch them perform (many of our co-workers are poets or musicians or dancers or artists).
- He is the least homophobic straight guy I know. The creep factor is kept tamped down because he is as interested in guys as women. He wants to know about us, wants to play as we work together, wants to support our art.
Oh, there’s so much more to learn about us working together, men and women. I don’t want to stop writing about this yet, but I think it actually is a good place to stop. I love Sherri Lynn and Pierce and Kelly and Sepi and so many more. I think there will probably be several more blog posts about this.
Oh now, working and being friends with transgender colleagues – of which we have several at work, just the ones I know about…there’s a learning edge for me. Let’s save a blog post for that :).