The Psychology of Unicorns and Professional Lines in the Workplace: Mythical Entities?

Dear Diary,

Yesterday was as loopy as the day before and probably just as loopy as today promises to be.  It is amazing that people are always talking about not crossing a certain line, but they then find their own line they feel comfortable crossing to the dismay of all those around them.  Is there a line anymore? Is it like pornography that we know when we see it?  Are you familiar with “Internet Rule 34”?  It says that if you can think of a particular kind of porn or strange fetish, there is a website specializing in it (no matter how twisted).  We should have a “Non-Profit Rule 34” that says if there is a line you can conceive of crossing, someone will cross it.  That mythical line is certainly becoming the stuff of legend,  like a unicorn.  Incidentally, unicorns are cute but also very creepy.   But I digress. Now where was I? Wait, I still can’t get over the unicorn thing. Does it not seem that there are people (ostensibly adults) that have unicorn figurines in their living rooms?  I may just get one, come to think of it, to place on my office desk so I can always be reminded there are even more improbable things in life than the zaniness of people’s workplace behaviors and actions.  Ok, now truly where was I?  Yes, that line. The professional line. Not too sure where it ends and where it begins anymore. How do people “draw lines” when they so closely merge the personal with the professional? In the non-profit world, the personal is political and the political is personal. You can’t do this type of work, for long hours on end and low pay, without internalizing the work, the mission and the work product. Mind you, I am not saying that everyone who works in non-profits is a saint and takes the work to heart, thus are great workers. No, I am not anywhere near saying that. But for many, the workplace is their life. It is their network of friends.  It is their point of self-reference and identity.  Anyway, all this to say I never know what to expect when I go to work. It’s a crapshoot, really. So, I am writing to you dear diary while riding the train into work with some trepidation as to what the day will bring. Already, the day has been zany. The train came on the opposite side of the tracks and we all had to run in our business attire, slipping and sliding on the ice from the snow that fell overnight. Does it have to keep snowing each night? I need a reprieve. Why, I am actually getting such a reprieve supposedly when I head out to Puerto Rico this weekend. But business travel in Puerto Rico can at times be the equivalent of banging my head up against the wall. Will they complain about the food we serve? Will they complain because we used a “Mexican” word instead of a Puerto Rican word (habichuelas vs. frijoles) and then get into a long tangential debate about translation and whether Puerto Rico should become a state. No, they don’t want to be a state because the Spanish language will be eroded.  Really, you are worrying about that now?  While in Puerto Rico I won’t enjoy the beach. Not that I ever do. Not a beach person.  The only time I have ever gone to the beach in Puerto Rico was when my mom died and I took my son to touch sand for the first time.  I know I am an odd Hispanic (or Latina, take your pick). Well, thanks for bearing with me, dear diary, as I let my stream of consciousness take over.   It’s actually almost time to get off the train. So, I will write to you some more when I head back home.

610 PM: Dear Diary. I’m back. Yes, the day was as loopy as it had promised to be. I started off at the United Nations this morning and that was an exercise in the management of incomprehensible bureaucratic inertia.  I finally made it out with the badge that I needed, but I must say that paperwork is so last century.  So, I ran to work, literally, a bit pumped up by the cool air to only have to deal with 6 meetings in a row that kind of took the wind out of me. There were times that I thought of the scene from “The Following” where the woman put the ice pick through her eyes.  Then I went to my happy place of fantasizing about Hawaii with a work colleague. I accidentally pre-purchased Hawaii tickets and I am so distraught by that. Not really.  The big question for me today was why would people assume that because I am a woman I would want to get together with all the other women in my office and bound with them and create a woman’s agenda?  Believe t or not, that’s not my area of interest or research. There are so many assumptions based on gender and sexual orientation in the workplace, especially in non-profits where the personal is work and work is personal. I am wondering if I should go around with a sign that says “I am woman hear me roar but don’t assume I am going to roar with other women just because I am a woman.”    In one of my meetings we did come up with a cool idea of putting on each staff members door their recent accomplishments-somewhat akin to a review –for all to see. Instead of a Scarlet “A” people can wear their accomplishments (or lack of accomplishments) proudly/shamefully.  It would be a way to hold people accountable to each other, the consumer and the tax payer, no? This all came, remember, from my recent visit to a wonderful community based organization in the south that puts in poster size right at the front of the reception area their mission and their vision. They hold themselves accountable to a greater public and I thought that was beautiful.  So, what do you think dear diary? Do that to individual staff as well?

Oh great, we are nearing my home station and the train is still arriving at the opposite train track. It’s been loopy, opposite day. People who should know better didn’t, and people who need a rest, ended up not getting one. Ahem. What will happen tomorrow? I am getting home now, but work doesn’t stop. I red-flagged like a hundred emails that I now have to read and answer with a chipper, enthusiastic voice that I don’t really feel, but you dear diary allow me to sound off here so that I can be that chipper, always smiling team player.

Leave on the opposite train track and arrive on the opposite train track. Toodles and good night.


3 replies »

  1. Thank you, Mimi, for your refreshing post!
    You are so right about non-profits: work is personal, personal is work. I am living at working at a non-profit retreat center. Living in community, personal life and work is mingled together – it’s beautiful and strenuous at times. Where is the line? Our great challenge is to explore and establish our boundaries.


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