More than my balance was upset yesterday at work, and after holding my tongue about the increasingly thickening and darkening atmosphere for longer than I could tolerate, I finally told one of my superiors about my concerns. I only meant to address the topics that were “safe” to talk about.
Pull one thread and unravel the entire cloth. She was surprised to hear me speak about microaggressions, casual racism, and how easy it is to gut a person with sweet sounding words. But she heard me out. She admitted she didn’t think that this office could hold such things. “But you aren’t one to say this lightly. What am I not seeing?”
I don’t know if the conversation that followed was a result of the shoal sigil’s intent of “Work Support”. But once the conversation was over, I made my peace with whatever happened and went on with the day.
“I know it’s hard for you to accept words of encouragement because they sound too much like empty platitudes. But would you trust data?”
I said I’d think about it.
She said to check my email this afternoon when my department’s reviews were released.
I was given my numerical score for my yearly review. (A sit down conversational review will follow later next month.)
It’s… high. Much higher than I would have given myself. I still wonder if it was an accident.
It’s also signed and confirmed by my boss’ boss. This isn’t the number he submitted to corporate. This is the number corporate confirmed and recorded.
Later she came back to me and closed the door. “I know things are hard because of the political climate. I know that things that I would take for granted, you have to reach for and demand. I didn’t know how difficult the office was becoming for you until you taught me phrases like ‘dog whistle’ and ‘microaggression’. I didn’t realize how much I had viewed your actions through racist stereotypes. And I’m sorry I have. You don’t have to be buddy-buddy with your coworkers, but you do have to be respected. And that is something we’ll work on.”
She left. I want to say that in the image of the closing door, I saw the shoal sigil, but I didn’t. I want to say that certain racist coworkers immediately got their collective act together, but they didn’t. I want to say that everything is going to be alright and smooth as butter now, but I know better.
Instead, I’ll say this is a viciously personal reminder of a usually vicious truth.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
If you don’t try, you don’t do.
If you don’t stand, you’ll never rise.
(I will say that after everything sunk in, damn right I called that shoal sigil as mighty and as powerful and as brilliant as I possibly could!)