Once upon a time, there was some drama at the office that consisted of three of my coworkers and me having what I’ll call here for the sake of propriety “communication issues.” Basically, one of the people was feeling picked on for screwing up something important, and although from my perspective it didn’t seem like anyone was being out of line in her opinion (we just wanted to acknowledge the mistake in hopes that it wouldn’t be made again in the future), the whole thing nevertheless turned into a bit of a low-grade bitchfight (to throw propriety aside), a devolution that I found completely ridiculous because (a) the initial problem had been addressed and solved and (b) I had bigger things to worry about so (c) LET’S MOVE ON.
The situation was complicated (as so many situations are) by the fact that the discussion was taking place over email, where tone can be easily (and is often readily) misinterpreted, even among people who have worked together for going on a decade. This whole kerfuffle also came at the end of what had been a really intense week for everyone, and I think we all know that sometimes the wrong word at the wrong time can just set someone off. It happens to all of us.
Because I work from home, one of my coworkers emailed me separately to fill me in on the mood in the office during all of this. (One of people involved in the discussion was crying.) I was advised to tread lightly because emotions were high: “K’s been sick and R has too many projects on her desk and you’re pregnant and hormonal and I’m about to start my period, so let’s all just chill out.”
Up to that point, I hadn’t been upset at all, but OH, you’re calling me a crazy hormonal pregnant woman now? Oh ho ho. Well. Ahem.
I wanted to argue—“I’m not hormonal and pregnant! And frankly it’s kind of insulting that you’d use that to dismiss my perspective on this issue, which, by the way, is completely neutral!”—but by then I was worked up enough that I didn’t think I could properly convey my breezy nonchalance about the original issue now that my RAGING HORMONAL PREGNANTNESS had been brought into the discussion and I could feel the indignance percolating in my fingertips. No use defending your calm when you’re seething.
All four of the people in this story are women, but I’m the only one of us who’s been pregnant, which I imagine had at least a little to do with my knee-jerk desire to set everyone straight, i.e., to tell them that growing a fetus does not render one irrational. Then again…if it’s easier for everyone to think I’m fragile and potentially volatile and perpetually thisclose to snapping if someone looks at me the wrong way, hey…why should I bother setting them straight? I’ve heard fear is a great motivator.
Hormones, man. They shouldn’t be an issue in the office, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t.