I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you about our mean streaks. I think everyone has given a not-so-nice nickname to his or her co-workers. It’s the rare event, however, when you get called on it.
The Monsanto Electronics plant employed a friendly lot of engineers and technicians who had transferred to South Carolina from other company locales and from outside of the company. The locals who worked there were retrained textile workers, and solid South Carolinians, accent and all.
One of our engineers was a woman who was short of stature. Remember in the movie ‘Shrek’ when the comment is made about the king that he is trying to compensate regarding his huge castle? This woman had the same issue. Of course it was all in her head.
We were a diverse group, we just didn’t use that term back then. Men, women, black, white, we all got along together, our work was respected, our backgrounds were respected, there just wasn’t a lot of back stabbing and bickering. (The result of sound management, but that’s another story.)
Anyway, this woman, I think her name was Chris, had a chip on her shoulder and always thought questioning her decisions was more of a slam to her small stature than to the fact that her work may need some tweaking. So after a few months of the getting to know Chris stage, we had had enough. OK, so it might have been me, but soon she had a nickname.
Spike. We used the term behind her back, like most cowards would. She reminded me of a small bulldog or Chihuahua, small but mighty, barking and chewing ankles all the time. During lunches taken away from the plant, we had a chance to spew the venom of the morning’s encounters with Spike. These noontime therapy sessions prepared us for the rest of our workday and galvanized us in the off chance that we had an encounter with Spike.
A few months later, a technician and I were working together when he mentioned, “I thought Spike knew we called her that.” Suddenly terrified, I asked why he said that. He explained that he was working with her and said something to the effect “come on, Spike, this is how it’s done.” He said she looked at him with curiosity. He was able to back out of the situation.
Now why would you call someone like that “Spike” and think that it was OK to say it to her face? He’s lucky she didn’t gnaw his ankles to the bone. But I digress…