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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

souvenirs and memory: Quebec monkeys

Monkeys in the office


I have a few in-jokes with my memories. One is that for a few years I only wore my see-hear-do no evil earrings to meetings where I knew I would have to work with an impossibly difficult colleague. The boss thought he was wonderful and didn't see, as several of us did, that he lied and cheated and generally made life difficult for several other people.

Monkeys native to Quebec

I bought the earrings at a little shop in Quebec a long time ago, before I had children. We had driven there from Boston, thinking it was not far (distance is relative) and it might be our only chance to see the city and province. We speak French with English accents that have Swiss tones to the them and to our astonishment several people in the province asked if we were Swiss. This was at a time of some tension with the U.S., and I started to find that it was easier to pretend to be Swiss than to claim to be American.

When I saw the monkey earrings I laughed, thinking I was a bit like them, trying to drift peacefully through a corner of Canada that seemed ready to pick a fight with me.

Later, the monkeys did the same trick for me at work, helping me focus on my job in order to get around the problem of the dishonest colleague and his ambitions. Oddly, when I finally decided the only solution was to leave, I lost one of the earrings. So now my Quebec monkey rarely gets to go out. People look at you oddly if you wear one earring or two mismatched ones.

I learned something by quitting that job: management gurus, MBA programs and newspapers like to speculate about why women managers don't go higher, but they rarely ask women at the moment when they can get a straight answer, the point at which a woman is walking out the door.

I got out of an unhealthy rat race and I haven't regretted it because I see and hear less evil, and I'm rarely tempted now to do any. May that other little monkey rest in peace.

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