May 27, 2013

You Don't Say

As some of you may know, I recently started at a new job.  Yes, that's right, I've moved out of the world of the frazzled auditor and into that of the in-house accountant.  My new coworkers are very nice, and I get to be part of some process analysis and revisions which are very exciting to my inner dweeb.  But the best aspect so far?  I leave every day before 5:30!!!  That's right, I'm bragging:)  (Ok yes there will be critical times when I have to stay 'late' but that's part of the biz, and late here will mean 6-7ish.  Holy mackerel.)

I've come into the team as a Senior Accountant, commensurate with my experience and the need to complete my CPA (yeah...that didn't die).  The same day I started, another new hire from a different Big 4 firm came in as an Accounting Manager (he had been a manager at his former firm).  I think we need a nickname for's call him New Dude, Too (NDT for short).  NDT and I have found that it was beneficial to start together because we can relate to each other's backgrounds and help each other transition to our new worlds.  None of our direct peers and few of our extended coworkers come from a similar background, making our connection that much more valuable.

There are aspects of the transition to a new role that I anticipated, such as learning to express myself in ways my new team understands and establishing my reputation anew.  Naturally, there are also things I couldn't prepare myself for, like the different approach a small company has to onboarding and training.  Figuring out how to more autonomously structure my days based on the combination of ongoing tasks and special projects on my plate is a surprising though welcome learning curve.  I realize these types of challenges are familiar to most people, but this is my first job change as an "experienced" hire so I find myself marveling at the experience itself!

NDT and I find ourselves on the same page about most things so far.  We like the same people, we note the same peculiarities with others, and ask ourselves the same questions as we learn how the company functions.  Since we are at different levels, we have been asked to take on different tasks, but we've leveraged that too. He's been working on projects related to mapping accounts which he explains to me, and I've been learning the nitty gritty things like how to work parts of the accounting system which I show to him.

I'm aware that as we're each establishing our images with the rest of the company, we are also developing our understandings of each other.  Maybe I'm not supposed to say this, but men at the Big 4 just tend to be more traditionally polite; some might say chivalrous.  They offer to carry things, volunteer for errands, and there are some you will never see walk through a door before a woman.  My observation is a combination of my personal experiences as well as discussions I've had with countless coworkers of both genders.  Perhaps it stems from the emphasis these companies place on classic manners such as which silverware to use for which course and email etiquette   As a pair of X chromosomes, I have to say that this is pretty nice.  It simply makes someone feel good to have someone else take a little extra effort to make their day a bit easier.  And as a clutz with occasional physical challenges, this kind of treatment can really come in handy.  However it's always been my opinion that men don't necessarily OWE this to women, and certainly that women can and SHOULD return the favors from time to time.  I'm just as capable of holding the door for a man or taking a package from an overloaded coworker.  Sometimes it just seems right to take care of my own task or get something for myself, even if it's just for the sake of taking turns.

I suppose this is why NDT made an interesting observation the other day.  It was a particularly nice, warm day and our company has a few tables outside for employees to use as well as a small walking track, and NDT and I like to use our newfound energy and time to make use of these amenities.  On this particular day, we had grabbed our lunches and headed out to one of the tables.  On the way, I offered to hold a door and press the elevator button, but NDT wouldn't let me.  During the ride downstairs he observed "you're a very ... [pause] independent [pause] person.  Like the other day when you wouldn't let me get the chair".

Me?  Independent?  Perhaps to the point of stubbornness?  Tosh.
...Well.  I don't know I'd use the word 'independent'.  Maybe 'empowered' or 'capable'.
...Ok, independent.  But that's a good thing!
...Ok yeah I see your point.
Fr. Anthony Messah describes what's it like to be an "independent-aholic" with this graphic, here.
So I tend to be a bit strong-willed, empowered, enabled, what?

We could go with an old-fashioned childhood experience psychology here if we wanted.  I have strong, distinct memories from elementary school of teachers asking for a boy in the class to carry a heavy box.  The funny thing was, I was larger and actually stronger than most boys in my class at that age.  I was simply more capable of carrying the box than they were, but the teacher only asked for boys.  I usually challenged the teacher (yes, at the tender age of, oh, 6 or 7 until 11); some would acquiesce and ask for any student capable of carrying the box, but others would still insist to my face that they wanted a boy to do it because it was really heavy or a girl might get hurt.  It wasn't until well into my 20's that my strength began to fade.  I may have always been a clutz and accident prone, but I was also particularly strong in my younger life.  And those memories stayed with me.

But we could also acknowledge the effect of a chronic diagnosis on my will.  My strength as a child was sometimes dismissed, but on top of that it was threatened by chronic diagnoses as a teenager.  It's well established (in my mind) that this was the point when I developed the mindset that I don't know how long I can do any given thing, so I'm going to do anything I can as soon as I can, because I don't know how long that opportunity will last.  Maybe this same mindset led to this "independence".

Or you could ask my parents, who would say I was born that way.  There's a legendary story in my family about the L&D nurse who observed during my first bath that I had a "worried, worried look" and my innate perspective for simultaneously respecting and questioning authority.  I never took any explanation at face value, though I wouldn't exactly violate it until I was sure it was flawed.  It is said I was born middle-aged, with an independent questioning mind and a will that considered other people but didn't automatically agree with them.

And so between a natural inclination, a childhood perception, and an adolescent encounter, I stand before you today, "independent".  This is one of the first traits a new coworker noticed and went so far as to comment on to me directly.  Well, you don't say ;)

1 comment:

  1. It was I, with the nurse' help, gave you your first bath and bottle. Loved every minute of it too.


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