It took less than 5 months into transition at work before it finally happened. After 11 years of being asked to do nothing of the sort, I have been put in charge of my boss’s going away to include party, gift, and memorabilia. The upside of this of course is that the company clearly sees me as female, and I have no complaints at all with that. The downside is that I absolutely suck at this.
Let me take a moment to justify that last statement with an anecdote from my troublesome past. In my last year in the Air Force, a group of us who were pretty tight took to having some final outings before we all went our separate ways. In May my best friend planned a camping excursion to a volleyball tournament. She pulled it off flawlessly. Everyone was given instructions on what to do and what to bring, she secured the perfect camping spot with proximity to electricity and the bathrooms, and we had all the food and beer we needed, which was a lot. Flawless. Apparently Tiff got tired pulling my weight and demanded I plan the next big thing, a trip down to the Outer Banks.
We worked all night (most of us were on the overnight shift) and planned to launch from my apartment at dawn. Tiff and I got into a tiff because I neglected to pick up any food, necessitating a hurried run to the store for anything that would fill the cooler. I did get directions, and we drove down in a fleet of cars and met at a rendezvous point down there. Flawless! Every single one of us made it there. My friend Bryan asked, standing under the big fish, “OK, so where do we go from here?” My answer was one of the least popular things I’ve ever said. “I don’t know, wherever everyone wants to, I guess.” People who have worked all night and drove all morning really and truly hate being told their sleeping accommodations were never even an afterthought. In my mind, I was tasked to get us down to OBX, and I did that. Mission accomplished. Yeah… things were just a teeny bit tense for a while until we dumb-lucked into a rent free beach spot to squat on.
Coming back to the present, I look back on my success rate since then and it’s not good. My M.O. is clearly procrastinate, put little or no thought into it, hope someone else is doing something in the background, and see what happens. The funny thing is, I don’t work like that at all. As soon as a paycheck is involved, I’m full of proactive, risk reducing, contingency planning, schedule assuring efficiency. Ask me to plan a holiday party though, and risk is high that I’ll be hitting an ATM and passing out dollars so everyone can make a selection from the vending machine. More than one trick-or-treater has walked away from my door with a can of Cream of Celery weighing down their bag. No one buys my typical potluck story that I “accidentally left my dish on the roof and drove away” after showing up with Doritos and a two liter of half flat diet Fanta.
When the email came in from my boss’s boss, to head this up, I was initially thrilled. He sees me as a leader within the group! A little later it dawned on me. He sees me as a woman within the group! Ugh. The pressure was on. I had to nail this, and for more than one reason. For starters, I didn’t want to fuck up the very first direct assignment given. A close second, my boss has been really cool and sweet about my transition and there is no way I was going to have this turn out to be a dud. Working for a great boss for 11 years builds up a whole load of gratitude. Finally, I need the girl cred. A disaster, or even a half baked showing is likely to have people thinking, “Typical. Leave it to a man make something special and this is what happens.” We all agree that we can’t have that.
In those reasons, I found my answer and motivation. I wanted to get this right because I care. It’s not about people being mad at me, or sucking up, but because this is the right and nice thing to do for someone to make them feel appreciated. Maybe I’ve always had this in me and was repressing it. Maybe the hormones finally knocked something loose in my skull. Either way, I think I got my girl cred. Don’t worry, I’ve got this and it’s going to be great.