Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Jonah/Krystle: The Lady in Charge

Personnel management isn't really a big part of my job at the gym.  I make schedules, which mostly means keeping track of availability, noting vacations, and trying to balance shifts so that people don't feel like I'm playing favorites.  I've hired a couple people to make up for departures over the past year - we've actually got two women working the walls in addition to Chloe at the front desk now, and yeah, it's a bit weird to me that this matters to me aside from it just seeming like a generally good idea, but I guess I've dealt with enough sexism that it does - and discovered I hate interviewing in a different way they when I was applying for jobs:  I just feel like there aren't very many useful questions and watching the way people answer is like trying to grab smoke.

Today was the first time I had to fire someone, and boy, does that make that "impostor syndrome" stuff kick in.

There wasn't a whole lot of question that the guy had to go - he was regularly late for his shifts, seemed to think he'd have my job in a matter of months, and I suspected he was much more literally hands-on than this job requires before I got actual complaints.  It's easy to come up with excuses - it's a gym, folks sometimes need assistance, and the stretchy workout gear means there's no padding - but there was a pattern, and there are policies in place to make sure that the parent company doesn't get sued.  I needed documentation, and that was tricky because, much as there are a lot of nasty people out there, there are also a lot who don't want to be the reason someone loses their job, even if a guy boosts you up the wall by pushing at your groin with his hand.  Folks don't even want to write that down.

And I'm kind of one of them - who am I to take away someone's livelihood?  I hated the idea.  I try to be a good manager, and I think most of the staff will say that I am, but a lot of that's being "nice" as opposed to being some sort of hard-ass, and this is a hard-ass things to have to do.

So at the end of his shift, I called him into the office, told him that he'd received warnings about his tardiness, and there had been several complaints, and that I had to let him go.  It was company policy and my hands were tied, which was true.

It was at this point I realized that this guy with a bad attitude was six-foot-four and muscular.

I don't really worry about that sort of thing a lot.  Part of it is that, despite having been Krystle for as long as I have, there's a part of me that still thinks of myself as a guy, and my parents raised me to be wary of white people in terms of who can mess up your life if they feel they're not being catered to enough, but not so much guys.  I've been one of the guys a lot as a woman, and when I haven't, I've been able to rely on being pretty, pregnant, or having a kid with me.  Plus, I may not be tall like I used to be, but I'm not short, either, and folks can see I've got some definition to my arms in most outfits.  There's a lot of reasons to think twice about starting something.

But this dude was big, and mad.  He stood up, leaned over my desk, and demanded to know just who the fuck I was to tell him anything, with an "you fucking bitch" at the end.  If I had more Angela Bassett in me, I might have yelled in his face that I was the fucking bitch who...  Well, I don't know how that sentence was going to end.  Instead, I stood and said there were rules, he hadn't followed them, and I wasn't putting him on the schedule again.

He raised a hand, as if ready to slap me, and I admit, I flinched.  He smirked at that, and instead of hitting me, swatted some papers from my desk and knocked something Moira had made in art class off a shelf on his way out, slamming the door behind him.

I just sat there for a few minutes, trembling.  I've been scared as a woman before, and as a Black person, but usually out in some place where there aren't lines drawn or anything.  Not in my office where I'm supposed to be in charge.

I don't know how long it took me to compose myself; not long enough for anybody to need me.  I picked everything up, was glad Moira's project wasn't damaged, and made sure everybody else was leaving as I closed up.  Just another day of being a woman in America, I guess.  Sometimes it catches me off guard, even now.


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