My dad retired earlier this year, and spent all summer gardening, to his apparent very great enjoyment. But prior to that, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, we spent several years carpooling to work since we were just across the parking lot from each other. And once he told me something that I thought I had documented right away… I wanted to read about it again today, and couldn’t find it either on my site or in my email. So here I lay it out:

During the course of our normal, casual talk about what we expected from our different work days, he mentioned in mild annoyance that he had to go flip burgers later at a picnic. I’d always known how my workaholic dad felt about what he called ‘mandatory fun’ — work parties and things that took him away from actual work — plus he was a high-ranking manager who often took unnecessary burdens upon himself instead of delegating (because he could perform them best), so I chuckled as I asked him how he got landed with that task. His answer was unexpected.

At the time, he had a group of employees working for him on what we’ll call Project B, though they technically actually worked for Subcompany A and were only temporarily under his jurisdiction. That day’s picnic was a Subcompany A picnic, and in truth had nothing to do with him (though as the temporary boss of this group of employees, he was perfectly welcome). Somebody from Subcompany A, who didn’t know any of Project B very well personally, had sent dad a memo to let him know which members of the group they were requisitioning to plan and set up this picnic.

“And every time someone does this,” said my dad in further annoyance — “every time, no matter what part of the company they’re from, whether they’re local or based in California or Washington or wherever, whether they’re choosing from a list of subcontractors or regular employees, as soon as they need to choose someone to plan a party or a picnic, they just happen to pick women’s names. These women have Masters Degrees and PhD’s and they have real work to do with real schedules — highly skilled work with government clearance — but as soon as there’s something someone a little higher up perceives as a kind of a woman’s job, those are the people they go for to take time out of their day to buy hamburger buns and set up a barbecue. This time, actually, they chose one woman and one man, but the man’s first name happens to be Kim, so you can see they did the same thing all over again. So I’m going to put on an apron and go take my turn.”

What can I add other than that I’m actively proud of him?


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