I’m an emotional person.
But up until now, the emotions I’ve actively displayed in the office have managed to stay in the range of crying to extreme frustration.
Even when we didn’t get the profit share bonus we’ve received every other year and they didn’t tell us till the last minute, like we were kids at a birthday party anxiously awaiting to jump out and yell surprise, only to find out the guest of honor wasn’t coming–even then, I kept the anger level in check. What was the point of getting publicly worked up over something about which I had no control?
Even when we didn’t even get cost-of-living raises, after having been asked to submit recommendations for our employees’ salary increases, like we were rats in a cage and they just wanted to see what else they could make us do when we had the expectation of a reward–even then, I seethed in relative silence. Why make a scene when it wouldn’t change the outcome?
So I don’t know if it was the combination of these and other frustrations building up over time, or if it was purely the perceived injustice of yesterday’s situation, but when I learned a male coworker was getting a new laptop after requesting one the previous week, while I had requested one more than 6 months earlier, and just this week had been told I would finally be getting one, and then the IT guy told me there were no more, I couldn’t handle it.
“Really?” I said, the volume rising with unmistakable anger.
“I requested it a week ago,” the coworker said, and though I couldn’t tell whether he was bragging about the request having been fulfilled so quickly, or if he thought he was justifying it because he’d put in the request so long ago, I lost it.
“Well I requested it 6 months ago!” I said. Maybe I didn’t say it. Maybe it was closer to a mild shriek. I know it was the closest to rage any of my coworkers have ever seen me get within the office building’s walls.
I didn’t wait for the coworker’s response before stomping back to my desk. I wasn’t really stomping, because as mad as I was, I was still an adult in a professional environment, but I felt like stomping. I felt like crying, as I typically do when I’m enraged, and I felt like screaming. I felt like shouting at anyone who would listen:
Did you hear what just happened? The man who asked for a computer from the all-male IT team just got one even though mine has been dying for half a year and I was just told this week I’d get a new one. They gave away my computer to another person because I didn’t make a big enough fuss. So now I’m making a fuss!
But I didn’t shout. I told the woman next to me who regularly shows rage at work, and she vicariously felt the same rage.
I’m an emotional person. But I usually keep it in check because women aren’t supposed to show emotion at work. If only I could be an even-keeled man who doesn’t get emotional at work because he gets whatever he requests as soon as he asks for it.