The shit, so to speak, has been hitting the fan at work for a few months now. It’s no secret I work for a homebuilder. And, it’s no secret that homebuilding is suffering a horrible miserable downslide due to the assholes of Greenspan & Company. Again people, you can’t fuck with a self-correcting economy without lube for too long before it snaps back and bites you square on your unemployed ass.

Well, not my ass. Not yet anyway. I’ve survived another round. And learned a new definition of irony: Being asked to witness and notarize the termination letter of a man who has hated me from his first day at work…a man who tried to make me his secretary, who was sadly mistaken to think I, yes, I, would be filing his papers and filling out his Fed Ex labels. I know what you’re thinking, “Why Velvet! You didn’t get an MBA to be someone’s secretary!” Okay, maybe you weren’t thinking it. But if you were, I would say to you, “Don’t forget I got a FOUR POINT OH OH OH!! So I definitely don’t want to be that bitch’s secretary.” But unfortch, in this industry, they see a woman coming and they see tits and someone they can make take dictation. Or just dick. Depends which builder you work for.

My company now is blissfully, and I mean blissfully with the times. Our Headquarters is in a pretty metropolitan area in a non-redneck part of the country. This is key my friends. Pay attention to where your company’s Headquarters is located - it determines a lot about your corporate culture. My old company (hereinafter referred to as Old Company,) had a headquarters in yeeeeee hawwwww, Cletus, the middle of fucking nowhere. Why were they there? Because they chose to be cheap, over having a bit of a sophisticated presence. Old Company made no bones about how cheap they were, and encouraged it from the top down to the lowest levels of the company.

Anyway, the President of Old Company had this ranch out in the middle of bumfuck Texas, that was literally 3 HOURS from a cell tower. It was so fucking far from anything relevant that even the tornadoes won’t go there. Every year they pegged a couple of suckers from each division to go “out to the ranch.” It was supposedly an honor to be asked. You would be flown to Dallas, then to some smaller city west of Dallas (no, don’t say Ft. Worth and no I don’t remember where it was,) then driven 3 hours in ATV’s to the ranch. Events that occurred at this ranch included hunting, killing things, shooting anything that ran and skinning various animals.

When they asked me, a long time member of PETA, a vegetarian, a woman and other labels of “all things that seemed to not belong at this ranch,” I said no. The Division President (hereinafter referred to as the Weasel) said, “You shouldn’t say no.” I said, “You want me to share a room and eek, a bathroom with someone I don’t know, in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone, no computer, and no TV, watching guys hunt and kill things that I would be likely to leash and name Scruffie? I’m saying no.” Needless to say, it didn’t go over very well. But that was to be expected. I had already helped blow the whistle on their rampant sexual harassment. They didn’t like me very much. And I thought they were trying to get me out to that ranch so they could kill me. There was no way in fucking hell I was going to go.

I always say now to my friends who worked there with me and read this blog (Kiki, MellyMel, FreakyN) that I wish I had a blog when we worked there. My parents said they were glued to the phone every night at 6:00 waiting for my update call of what happened at work that day. It was their nightly entertainment. And in the first phone call, my dad gave me some invaluable advice: Document everything. So I did.

Strap on your seatbelts. Fun story of a top national homebuilder (and I mean TOP) and shady goings-on coming in installments, but startinnnnng NOW!

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Just as a first relationship shapes you for future relationships, your first job seems to operate in a similar manner. My first job was working for Nine West, as a Production Buyer. In my division, and in the whole company, there were endless examples of intelligent, talented, sophisticated women in Management. Retail proved to be all gay men and bitchy women, but the example that these women set was what I thought I would encounter for the rest of my career. How wrong I was. After three years at Nine West, I moved to Atlanta for the ill-fated relocation to live with my then boyfriend, AtlantaBoy. I got a job in the buying office of the now defunct Rich’s Department Stores. What a hellhole that place was. But still, tons of intelligent women, whose opinions were coveted, roamed the halls of Rich’s Corporate Offices. And a few rednecks. It was, after all, Atlanta.

When I left Atlanta, I left retail behind for good and moved to Maryland for grad school. Through a couple hurdles, I got a job working for a Land Developer. As nutty and sometimes shady as this man was, I learned a lot and he let me manage a lot. When someone else in our office balked at a project that involved going out to see a suspected murderer’s mail order bride and strong arm her into signing away her property, he said to him, “Fine, I’ll put the pit bull on it.” Guess who the pit bull was? Yeah. I learned my work ethic from all those tough, smart, strong women through the years who took no shit from anyone, always knew their stuff, and looked great while doing it. I learned to not underestimate the value some expensive clothes can buy you in terms of impressions. But working in Land Development? More a jeans and sweater kind of job. Some days you get to wear boots and trek through the mud. It was a nice dichotomy for me actually. I liked not having to be so buttoned up.

So I continued working for the Developer, and when I graduated school and left the ‘burbs behind for DC, I got two job offers, both with top builders. One was in Orlando, the other, local in Maryland. I opted not to move, though I wonder what my life would have turned out like if I went to the land of all things Disney.

Three months into my time with OldBuilder, the Controller up and quit. The Weasel (remember, the Division President) freaked out to my boss, the second in command, saying, “What are we going to do?” My boss said, “I don’t know what YOU’RE going to do, but if I was you, I would figure out who in this office is qualified to be a Controller, and ask them if they want the job.” The Weasel looked at him with a blank stare. I know now he was probably only considering the men in the office, not any of the women. My boss cut off his daydreamy gaze and said, “VELVET! Ask VELVET! She’s the only one in here with an advanced degree for Christsakes.”

So after much hemming and hawing, mostly because a girl could never be so smart to work a calculator and stuff, the Weasel asks me to take this “quiz.” It’s a personality and aptitude test. Having just come off the runway from grad school, and having completed a very useful Leadership major, I buzzed through the test with ease. It had a bunch of different parts and covered a completely wide range of areas. One part had questions like, “I’d rather spend the day a) fixing my car or b) making a collage.” Then there was the math section, the verbal section, and then a couple sections with questions like, “I think most people, when left alone, can be trusted – true / false.” It was really an odd test, I did what I thought was right and submitted it.

Monday morning my boss came in my office and shut the door. My heart dropped into my stomach for a split second until he bust out laughing. He said, “The Weasel called me Saturday morning and said he got your test back. Apparently no one has ever scored as high as you did. You were like a 99% match for the job, with a 0% error, meaning, you weren’t trying to lie or fudge your answers.” I was in shock. My boss went on to tell me that they were going to offer me the job, and I should be ready with my answer. I already had the answer – being a Controller is a more of a later step in a career. And numbers and finance jobs are always easy to get. I liked what I was doing, and I wanted to stay in Development. That is what I told everyone, they agreed and then hired a man I’m going to call Opie. During Opie’s interviews, he asked if there were any other candidates for the job. My boss said there was someone internally but it didn’t look like “she” was going to accept it.

Shortly after Opie’s arrival, he determined by process of elimination, that I was the only possible candidate, and from that moment on, he had it in for me. When I tell you what this man did to me and to the rest of the women in the office, you may be shocked. Or you may not. But it was diabolical, and twisted, and as someone told me the other day when his name came up in conversation, “There’s just something wrong with him.”

Part II coming next.