There are very few women in my workplace. In my specific research group, there are two researchers, plus me. Out of about 15 people. So we’re pretty darn outnumbered.
Now, in the last year, I’ve definitely learned that scientists are quiet people. Maybe it’s just chemists? (I hear physicists have quite the personalities.) But I have to say, the female scientists are the quietest of the bunch.
When I started my job last November, I thought I might get along with the ladies the best. Maybe because I am a lady,* or just because I’m used to working with ladies.
I was off to a really good start with one of the girls in particular. She and I would always stop in the hallway and say hi, have a little chat, all the usual stuff. She was quiet, but really nice, and I thought we might become work friends.
But then I did something stupid.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Andrea, you never do anything stupid at your job. (Not like I’ve ever locked myself in the stairwell or parked my car on the sidewalk or anything…) But this was a total accident – something I could have never seen coming.
I walked in on the lady scientist in the bathroom.
They’re private bathrooms – as in, a single room, not a room with multiple stalls or anything – and she hadn’t locked the door.
Here’s the thing: it could have been way worse. I didn’t see anything. She could have been buck naked or something,** but she wasn’t. She could have been having sex with someone. But she wasn’t! She was just sitting there, and as soon as I noticed, I apologized and shut the door.
That was at least six months ago. The girl still will not make eye contact with me. When we’re walking toward one another in the hallways, she keeps her eyes on the floor. She never says hi. She never talks to me. I’m fairly certain she actively avoids me. Hell, in the last six or whatever months, I think I’ve only seen her like, six or seven times. It’s insane.
Yesterday she needed something from me and she used as few words as possible to ask for it, again without making eye contact. I tried to start a friendly conversation and she basically ran away. And that was that.
Well, guys, lesson learned: I’ve always thought of myself as somewhat easy to embarrass, but BOY WAS I WRONG.
Will we ever rekindle our work friendship?
*Arguable, depending on how you define “lady.”
**One time, a lady walked in on me in a fitting room while I was pantsless and bending over to try on jeans. So there you go. An eyeful of Andrea’s underwear-ed bum, bent over, close-up. That’s much worse, but still not as bad as it could be, right?!