To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - One of Ronald Reagan's favorite sayings.

F is on spring break. I took her to lunch today and, as usual, talked her ears off. She's very indulgent. I don't know whether she's interested or just very respectful, which is appropriate, I suppose, for a well-mannered young lady.

Besides the babysitting that I had to do that I mentioned here, wherein I had to put in a lot of (unpaid) overtime making sure one of my coworkers got his work done, there was another episode with a different coworker in which I had to do virtually the same thing. He had to use purge-and-trap technology, which he was familiar with and at that time I was not, together with a Hall detector which neither of us had any experience with, and the data collection software was the package I was using for my humble pesticides rather than what he was familiar with for GC/MS. This coworker had more get-up-and-go than the other one and neither of us understood why I had to be there, except that I had more familiarity with the software and perhaps the boss thought he had a tendency to give up too easily. We did have a lot of problems with the detector, getting a decent baseline, and so on. One evening I was working late on his dadgum project; he was there, and the boss was there, and I had bronchitis and was so tired that I kept coughing until I lost my breath. I wondered what kind of idiot I was, to risk pneumonia like that. Both of these men were paid considerably more than me, as was the boss, naturally.

But later, when that boss left and I was promoted to a supervisory spot (another story) one of those men's pay was cut and both of them had salary freezes for several years because the big boss thought they were overpaid. Meanwhile I had nice increases every year until I caught up and passed them.

So what I told F is that sometimes you have to pay your dues and not worry too much about getting credit for all your hard work in the immediate future.

THE PROBLEM COMES IN when you have a boss who is very willing to let you work your butt off and has no intention of ever paying you what you're really worth. Sad to say, this probably happens a lot more often with black people and women. Some folks have it in the back of their minds (or even at the front) that black people and women ought not to expect to be paid like white men. Even some black people and women think that and won't stand up for their rights. Plenty of white men are overworked and underpaid too, of course. It's an individual decision that a person has to make, what he or she is willing to put up with and how long to wait to see if things are going to be made right. If you demand too much up front you tick people off. Bosses want to see consistent effort over a period of time. But if you hang around too long not getting paid enough, not only are you not getting money, but it looks bad on your resume. From my experience, mom-and-pops, meaning any really small company with only one or two owners, are the worst. They'll tell you how wonderful you are and how much they love you and couldn't do without you, but as long as your last name isn't theirs, you will never, ever get anywhere. A person might decide to work for a mom-and-pop for a short period of time, say 2 or 3 years, if doing so will allow him to gain some skills and experience that make him more marketable. Longer than that is probably a bad idea.


F said...

you call me respectful and well mannered. that makes me giggle.

I saw your post on Muttawa... I was agreeing with everything you said and then I got to the end and saw your name and was like DUH.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Poor Mr. Rahman. We'll pray for him and for his adversaries.