Times they are a changing.
Although I confess – I thought they changed a long time ago.
I stepped into the little kitchenette in my department this morning to grab a cup of office coffee.
No time to stop at Tim Horton's to grab my usual extra large double-double – office coffee would have to do.
A poster hung on the kitchen cupboard – above the microwave oven – the most prized advertising spot in the entire department.
You could announce anything and get a huge response by hanging your poster in this location – literally trapping every poor soul in the department to have to stand there and read it while the microwave slowly heats last night's left over supper comprised of stuff you didn't eat last night.
The poster was for a women's economic conference – to allow women to share insights as to how to be more successful.
"I want to be more successful too", I thought to myself as I read this poster.
At the bottom of the poster – disguised in a feminine fancy script so as not to be easily visible to the male eye – was written the single qualifying condition …
Exclusively for women!
That can't be? We are now supposed to be equals, aren't we? Ever since Billy Jean King beat the snot out of that nerdy cross-dressing Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match back in the 70's? Ever since Margret Thatcher became Prime Minister of England, and Geraldine Feraldo ran for Vice President of the United States? Ever since Hillary Rodham Clinton ran for President only to get beaten by the first black man ever to run for office (bad timing or what?).
Ever since women's World Cup soccer?
Ever since Yoko Ono? And let's not forget Sarah Palin!
We were supposed to have transcended both race and gender prejudices by now. Right? The twenty first century and all that it brings?
That's why we now have metro-sexual men. Right?
I looked all over the cabinets in that tiny little kitchen for a second poster – the one for men – the one that held the date and time for the big Men's Only How To Be Successful seminar.
I couldn't find one.
I still had time waiting for the coffee to brew, and I stood there looking at the poster for women only to read. I hoped nobody would catch me – there might be a hint as to how to be successful in that poster somewhere.
Nope, I guess you have to go to the conference.
Then I started imagining what would happen if I showed up – with the twenty five dollar entrance fee – and tried to get in. Would they usher me out? Would they deny me access – access to these great keys of success that I am certain were to be delivered just the other side of that conference room door?
Would the cops come, and usher me away – take me down town? Call my wife?
I would likely have to dress in drag – a pant's suit – with reasonable shoes – something that would sing 'successful business woman'. And I could use my daughter's Hannah Montana blond Halloween wig.
But then I remembered I have a mustache and a beard now. I grow a beard most every November – and the mustache hides the scar on my upper lip – so I'm not shaving that off!
So much for going in drag.
What would they talk about?
It must be pretty juicy stuff if men aren't allowed in to hear it! I'll bet they are going to talk about how to get around the old-boy-business-networking that my dad and my dad's dad and his dad too worked so hard to set up for the last couple of millenniums. They will probably advise each other to start playing golf – and how to gain the edge in meetings by showing more cleavage – thus leaving the men in the department to babble and state wrong information – only to jump in with the right answers. They will talk about networking – and workshops – and sharing their feelings. All the while balancing teacups on their knees and munching delicately on little finger foods – and chocolates.
It's just not fair?
Then – only because our office coffee maker is nearly as slow as the elevator in our three story head office building – I started thinking about another angle. If there is no seminar for men only … then I should host one.
I could host the event in my garage. I could set my laptop on my workbench – and borrow one of those LCD projectors to shine a power point presentation up on the other wall – between the rakes, the hose wheel and the stack of old apartment size air conditioners we have moved several times but will likely never use again.
"Welcome to the Men's Only Workshop On How To Succeed More than Women" I will say, and I will show images of important women and motivate these men in my garage to believe these women are the enemy.
I will warn the men that now it is more important than ever to not be accused of sexual harassment in the workplace – because that will only play right into their hands! No dirty jokes – no off color humor. And I would suggest that from now on we refer to every female colleague as Miss.
"Why Miss Samantha – that is a very professional looking blouse you are wearing – but could you please button up the top two buttons – you are distracting me", I would say for an example.
And we would the share our feelings. "How did you feel about the Lions play last Sunday?" or "Didn't you think A-Rod had a great post season?".
After that, we would break, and retire down to my family room – where my family is not allowed – and we would play pool and shoot darts over a couple of beers – and see who could make the loudest noise come out of their body parts.
You have to play hardball these days. You can't just sit around doing a good job and think someone will notice and move you ahead in life. These women aren't sitting around. And apparently some of them in my office are looking to beat me out of the next promotion!
But imagine – if I followed through with this brilliant counter-strike of a plan – and I made up a poster to hang on the kitchen cupboard right next to the microwave – imagine the horrific complaints of a male only event being held that women could not attend – to help us men gain an advantage on those power-wielding ladies of the corporate world of today.
They would have me in front of the Manager of Human Resources explaining myself. And I would have to take some kind of a gender-sensitivity training course – probably on Sunday afternoons.
That's no good.
And it's not fair.
Finally the coffee maker had completed its task – and I poured myself a fresh cup mixed it with extra cream and sugar – when Madeline walked around the corner.
I mean Miss Madeline.
"How's the coffee, I just made it a few minutes ago?" asked Miss Madeline , with all the buttons on her blouse done up all the way.
"Pretty good!" I replied. I wasn't lying. It was actually a good cup of office coffee.
And I realized, I got it pretty good the way things are, and if I hung that poster I was dreaming up, I might not get coffee like that at the office ever again.