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Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem [As long as we are among humans, let us be humane. (Seneca)]
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Wednesday, September 08, 2004
  Not nice, Not big, Not clever. Just very nasty.

This is a log of events taking place at the premises of NTFS Limited it is currently 1111 hours (11:11am) 08 September 2004 which seems to me a suitable time to log the activities of today and the days leading up to today.

My Name is Matthew Brown an I am an independent consultant, programmer and freelance data expert. I have trained for four years studying with singular dedication to achieve the skills that generally are failing to earn me a penny.

As such I find abuse for being me while doing my job more than I am willing to take.

I work for the bulk of my weak in the damp basement of NTFS limited writing VBa code for database systems I have designed. The pay is piss poor but I am working and earning (I will earn on completing of Project A or C plus I will given an Althon XP Top end PC).

So you see the day-to-day work is fairly badly paid in that it does not pay.

I work at this job not because I couldn't gain more at MacDonalds serving burgers (I could PC included) but because the owner of NTFS is my friend. Further more I love what I do and that should be more than enough to keep me going. That is until yesterday.

Upstairs on the ground floor is the tiny shop front that Dave has chosen to have called "The Computer Shop". The girl who works there is Lisa she is barely a child with little to no qualifications and one of the many "care workers" this county has. Now however she is working for Dave (working for NTFS Limited) answering phones and "manning" the shop.

It should be pointed out that she spends more time down here doing God-alone-knows-what than she spends up there when Dave is absent. Still as she is the daughter of the "girl friend" / "Lover" / "shag piece" / "Female Pregnant by his seed" of Dave, owner of NTFS and as such should be expected to take more liberties than any other employee.

I have done my best to be not only nice but actually pleasant to this girl and to get along with her despite having exactly zero things in common with her and a general tendency towards feelings of intellectual superiority when around her. It is, however, not nice to imply or act as if someone is a lesser person, foolish, base or stupid just because you own ego might like to think that the case. She is competent in her job and far more suitable a worker than any of the others that have been her (with the possible exception of those that do book keeping / accounting).

When she started the girl was so out of her depth around technology that I pitied her plight and attempted to help. To this end I took into work with me a copy of Lemmings, a book on royal scandals, a pair of witty and interesting books on the birth of the IT industry as we know it & the birth of the internet; and a general guide to letter writing. However I underestimated the inclination of this girl to actually read and other than the letter writing guide that was used when composing business letters for Dave the bundle went unused.

Perhaps I pitched my answer to her need to high or maybe she felt insulted by the attempt who knows because just yesterday she stormed down the stairs (abandoning the shop again) and angrily ranted that the toilet seat should be "...LEFT DOWN!". As she (didn't) ask so nicely I felt compelled to do no such thing.

For the rest of the day I could not shake the unutterable anger at this total abuse. What right had she to shout at me like that? She is not the one who pays me, not the one who asked me to come, not the one who directs my work... she's a nothing in my scheme of things. Were I a member of the company I would out rank her by shear scale of pay if nothing else. If this were a lager company a disciplinary hearing would be held regarding this upstart till girl for speaking to a senior programmer and the company director like that. However, this is a tiny operation and no such thing will happen.

It's still abuse in the work place though.

So many thoughts rushed through my head. Don't I put up with enough smelling the stench of cigarette smoke in this unventilated tunnel? Don't I put up with enough having had the heavy hatch from the counter fall on my head on two separate occasions? Don't I put up with enough working in mess and chaos? Don't I put up with enough not asking for more money for what I do? I was angry. I had not been that angry in months, maybe even years. It stirred in my gut so that I could not settle to work. I was useless for programming all that day. Simple things alluded me like the shut down command for "Microsoft Access 2000 VBa" for example. I could not concentrate.

Further stirring my anger was what happened after that.

I set about connecting the PC I use to the network for internet access. To this end I sorted out three boxes of cables and tidied a table full of junk. The room was better for my efforts, clearer and less of a fire hazard.

Today however I felt a greater sense of calm. I am independent and can not be sacked for walking out. I hold many of the cards here. Further, I am an advocate for gender equality and a defender of the rights of men. Abused men need defenders too.

New thought filled my head today. I have a right to a peaceful work place. I have a right to be treated with respect by the employees of companies I work for. I have the right to stop working. I have just as much right to leave silly signs on the toilet.

I visited the web site Everything2 and looked at a funny article on the subject: http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=407688 it contains exactly one obscenity and that is in the title: "I will REMOVE the fucking toilet seat if you don't shut up". The article talks at length about the trails and stupidities of the toilet seat debate, something I had hitherto never encountered.

I knew of this article and had always felt the writer had a funny view of the world. Today I knew he had a clear view of the world.

I thought about the sign in the toilet that had appeared saying put the toilet seat down. I thought about the lack of grace, the lack of asking nicely and then I printed the article. I stuck said print-out over the sign. I deliberately put the seat up. I sat back down at my desk with full view of the only door to the toilet.

I will remove...

My stomach was a not of tension I could not even read the daily news emails I subscribe too, I just sat at my desk pretending to read. I was experiencing fear.


Fear in my work place.

What had I done? I had started a war. There would be shouting. I would have to get out.


I couldn't move. I could only imagine that I would be phoning an ambulance to come attended to me. I imagined that if my face was bleeding even a little I would call them just to "shit her up" for her violence. I imagined how this would spoil my day and I thought about the long walk home from A&E.

I imagined telling Dave: "I'm telling you as a friend..." no maybe "I'm sorry mate but as a friend you deserve to know..." and some ending like "...I will probably be suing you company as a matter of principle."

"I hope we can still be friends."

Then my heart started to beat faster she had come to rummage around in the boxes again. (what does she do with them?) Then she opened the door to the toilet. I forced a smile onto my face and my nerves abated temporarily.

No I could do nothing the fear gripped my body and froze me to my desk.

I felt so exposed. The violence was going to happen soon and I was going to not defend myself because "YOU MUST NOT HIT FEMALES".

I was petrified.

At last I typed into a notepad file:

"Violence, Silence or Shouting?

...as I typed "...0" it was like a portend of things to come: the toilet flushed and the door opened.

I sat fixed on the screen starting at the words I could not read commanding my body to look relaxed. I braced my self to be hit. "I can take it!" I told myself over and over. "I can take this I am a man!".

"Put the fucking toilet seat down!" she shouted. I barely heard the exactness of her words but he demanding, ordering and abusive tone was clear. I raised my middle finger to her and refused to look away from the monitor. My vision had tunnelled to utter blackness and I could effectively not see. I remember readying for a fight at school when I knew the bigger lad was going to try and beat me to the floor. This felt the same. It felt worse because you can hit boys and you only get a one hour detention if unlucky enough to be seen.

The she was gone, up the stairs and back to the shop.

I reach forward and typed "Fly by shouting." though in retrospect I think I meant "drive by shouting" like a drive by shooting in a gangster movie.

I trembled. I let the tension ebb away.

So that was blind rage then! Literally you become blind. Astounding!

Now in place of the tension came renewed anger. She could at least damn well ask me.

She should ask.

I will remove...

I could remove the seat from the toilet.

Then I got up I went to the toilet room and I turned on the light. The seat was down and my sign untouched.

My only thought was "The illiterate bitch didn't read my message" as I lifted the toilet seat up and departed the room.

I sat down at my desk again and tried to see the funny side of it. There is no funny side.

I hope Dave reads the sign and laughs. I hope he sees the funniness of the joke in the toilet room.

So that brings us to 1111 hours and me starting to type my account. It is 1211 to the minuet and the irony of the exactness is not lost on me. I doubt anyone who reads this will believe the times but they are gospel truth. This account has taken me an hour and I feel that I have expressed everything that has happened to the fullness of my skills.

I think back and my heart quickens, there is a flutter and a mild fear.

This is the face of work place abuse.

This is how women abuse men and get away with it.

What I might do now is print this out and pin it to the wall where I have worked in the office of NTFS limited and then I will leave for the very last time (screw them!). I will go and see the competitor two doors away. At one time they too were my friends. I will give them a copy to hold in a sealed envelope. I will go home and feel sad that I may never own that great PC. I will hope that Dave and I will continue to be friends.

Maybe I will continue to work on the projects that I started but if I do I will work from home.

If I can help it I will never work in an office I do not own again.

I might even take legal advice but on that score I just don't know.

whoa guy that is abuse. way to go with the sign and not giving into her demands though. It boggles the mind that in this age of equality a woman cant lower a toilet seat if she needs to. I guess she probably thinks you are a totally insensitive guy for doing that. total b.s.

memo to all women reading this blog and comment: you have hands you too can lower the toilet seat. if you know we are going to use the toilet next do you leave the seat up? No. ok well then. shut up and deal with it. It doesnt take a tremendous amount of calories to lower the seat.

Hang in there Matthew
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