Today I was in a major company’s chemical plant in Decatur, AL. I was there to procure some by-product that requires some technical exchange between our company and theirs, so we had our crew of chemists and chemical engineers, and they had theirs. We were asked, at the security entrance, to sit through a banal 15 minute video that was supposedly to keep us safe, ok whatever, fair enough. We badged through every door and signed many documents and finally arrived at a conference room. There, we were greeting by the folks we were meeting with, 3 men and 2 women, as well as one more women who was a superintendent that was to Shepard our experience on their site.
Our day would ultimately include a trip into the plant where we would observe some waste treatment ponds and drying beds, far from all production units. So this superintendent sort of grabbed control of the meeting from the get go, using the leverage afforded her by the word SAFETY. She grew noticeably animated as she asked her colleagues if they had arranged for our hard hats, glasses, “FPC’s” (fore proof cloths) and shoes. Hard hats and glasses were already arranged, but she was stern in demeanor, and began asking our shoe sizes. Her colleagues were noticeably irritated as she glowed with the power that SAFETY afforded her. The other women made a phone call and hung up saying “we wont need FPCs or steel toed shoes where we are taking them”. She was absolutely crest fallen, her time had come and gone.
But she lit up, her face beamed as a new thought crossed her mind. She looked gravely at the group, her coworkers and us and asked, “have we done the safety moment?”. Her colleagues didn’t react, my colleagues looked confused, and she went on to say something about if an alarm rang they would tell us what to do.
The moment passed, but I’d caught “the moment”.
After 30 years in the petrochemical industry I am very accustomed to safety procedures and briefings, but I had forgotten the lunacy of these major companies.
In the early 1990’s one of my friends went to work for Amoco in Chicago. He called me one day to tell me that his first big meeting had shocked and dismayed him. The group sat in a stately conference room, then with dress codes requiring ties for the men, and sensible business cloths on the women, and the chair of the meeting held a gavel. The guy started the meeting saying now, we will have our safety moment. My friend conveyed that this was a (required) time of reflection on safety, which was prompted by an assigned employee who had to share a safety anecdote from their work days. They would say things like “yesterday I banged my shin on an open file drawer so lets keep those closed”. Others could chime in, or not.
But it got worse. Next came the diversity moment. HUH? The chair explained (which he/she did at every meeting) that the diversity moment was a time for everyone to reflect on the benefits of diversity. The gavel would be passed, and people were encouraged to speak their hearts, not only about racial or gender diversity, but about the uniqueness and diversity of the individuals in the room and how together they were stronger than alone. A key point was that the diversity moment was to in no way be interrupted or called short. If it took hours and someone felt the need, they would reconvene the next day even and allow it to continue waiting for that to clear before addressing the business at hand. My friend described himself looking from face to face seeking any recognition that another person felt this tripe was as much BS as him, and to his horror, all he saw was furrowed brows of seriousness, and grave looks of intense faux empathy. He was utterly alone on common sense island with a group of automaton zombies. He left the company as soon as he could.
Here I was some 20 years later, in a factory owned by BP (who had acquired Amoco) listening as a woman grabbed the reigns of power to foist upon our group her sense of self importance because she had the full weight of the corporate giants HR manual standing behind her. Go girl, Go?!
Women are controlling. Given a tool (oh, say, the bible for instance) like a corporate make work program, and add an appeal to emotion and empathy to go along with the power it gives those who adhere with religiosity, and see that women have not only crowded out men in the workplace, they have crowded out any sense of what work is, and why its performed. In her world this is her biggest job, and it took her just “a moment”. She looked weary and bored the rest of the day except for brief perk ups when we needed to use our badges, buckle the seat belts in the van, or explain that if I took a photo with my phone she would gladly take it and have it approved to be carried off site.
This ties in to the feminization of our country into a pathetic shape. Its made even more pathetic when men stand and lap it up, either willfully, or quietly tolerant of the madness.
These rules and programs fit the female psyche perfectly. They give power, control, and a perverse sense of nurturing all at the same time. Give her rules and dadgummit she can follow them and make dern sure everyone else does too. In a real catastrophe, while men were digging each other out of rubble, rolling people in blankets to extinguish flames, and organizing groups to evacuate, she’d be blubbering about section 3 article A says we need to calmly walk out gate 37 and congregate across the road and she will read aloud the roster and make sure everyone is accounted for. She has a checklist dang it, everyone stop what you are doing and get back here! Hey!!!!
Abstract thinking doesn’t come natural. The control room (her favorite place no doubt, where can she buy the home version) has a list of steps for each upset in the reaction taking place in the hot violent metal vessels outside. There are corrective steps prescribed for any slippage. As long as that is what happens she will be fine.
But when real fecal matter hits a rotating blade, all the diversity and safety moments combined may serve as post traumatic therapy for injured women, meanwhile the men get busy rebuilding the place where they subsequently allow themselves to be micromanaged…..but just for a moment.