You Want Sugar With That?

Frequent readers of my blog remember I purchased thirty cups of coffee through the Cup of Joe for a Joe program. I’m still receiving notes of thanks from the soldiers who have received the gift of a great coffee.  They are so appreciative and it warms my heart.

I’m reminded of a time when I was a young engineer, working in a construction assignment in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I had only been out of school a couple of years and I was still learning the ropes.  This assignment was definitely a man’s world. I’m sure I was the first and only female engineer they had ever experienced. The adaptation, though, was quick and soon I blended in just fine, or so I thought.

We had visitors come to the site. Corporate engineers and managers came out to make sure we knew what we were doing, as they often do, and we were crammed into a small conference room on the site. The daylong meeting held very little interest for me and it seemed like it would never end.

One of the ‘suits’ was seated near me. I hadn’t paid too much attention to him. Most of the construction engineers were there to hear and not speak. This suit was talking quite a bit. All of a sudden he says, “Would you get me a cup of coffee?” I realized fairly quickly he was talking to me, mostly when I turned to see him looking straight at me, holding his empty cup.

No one said a word. The room fell quiet. Nowadays I’d have told him where he could put that coffee cup. Back then, I was a work in progress, a shy work in progress with an anger that boiled behind my smiling face.  I couldn’t believe this guy.

I quietly got up and left the room with his cup. Outside the conference room, I related to our secretary the audacity of this out-of-towner. “Are you going back in?” she asked. “Um, no.” There was no way I was going to bring that ass his coffee. Of course I did ponder the satisfaction I might get from spiking his coffee. I decided I could really get in trouble with that, so I just never returned to the meeting.

He never apologized, which told me he just didn’t get it. Hopefully by now he has. I’d love to have the chance to fill his mug again. I’m just not saying what it would be full of.


About stemzandroses

I'm an engineer and writer with a built-in need to share my nearly 40 years of experience working in a male-dominated field with the rest of the world.
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2 Responses to You Want Sugar With That?

  1. I happened to be on my second cup of coffee at the time I read this.

    To me, the story sort of hammers home the whole “traditionally under-represented groups” concept I was FINALLY getting my head around while wrapping up my CompSci degree in the early ’90s.

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