DailyAfirmation (dailyafirmation) wrote,

Lame Lost & Found, and the MPIT Thanks email

First thing this morning, I called the Lost & Found office at the airport. I had a very frustrating conversation with the lady who answered the phone that went something like this:

"Hello, I either left my keys in my trunk or lost them somewhere in the airport some time between last Sunday and yesterday."

"Just a minute, let me get all the keys we have... Okay, I have everything that's been turned in since Sunday."

"Okay, my key ring is a two-part ring that you can push a little lever on, and they separate into 2 rings. On the one side are two keys, a big office key, and a small mailbox key. On the other ring are all the other keys, maybe about 8 of them. There is a gold medallion with the letter 'M' etched into it on it, too."

"All right. This is what I'm going to do. I'll go through each set of keys I have and you tell me if they're yours. I have a set with two Volvo keys and a house key on it."

"Nope. That's not it."

"I have a set with three business keys on it."


"All right, a set with a Nascar emblem on it..."

[interrupting...] "No, that's not it. My keyset is two rings that come apart, with two keys on one side, and a bunch on the other with that gold medallion with the 'M' etched on it."

"Okay, next I have two keys on a ring with a..."

I wanted to scream. She droned on through the rest of the list not ever describing anything close to mine. How frustrating.

I only had one meeting today at work, and that was the "GLBT Modular" (please!) meeting. It actually went well with no tension between Allan and me. In fact, we stayed on the line afterwards, and I shared my impressions of the MPIT conference with him, and he asked me about my coming out experience.

I left work late, at 7:05, and was supposed to meet Steven at Carmichael at 7:30. I called him to tell him I was running behind, but to go ahead, and I'd be there by 7:45, unless he could wait and just meet me there. He returned my call, but I had my radio loud, and by the time I noticed the lit keypad on my phone, it said, "Missed Call." I called him back but it was busy, he was leaving me a voicemail. After all was said and done, his message said that he'd meet me at 7:45.

I got home, put a Lean Cuisine in, and changed real quick while it was cooking. I ate, and rushed to the gym.

Steven and I were pulling up at the exact same time, gawked at the exact same men ont he basketball court and on the way to our machines, and had our 30 minute workout. We then did our (one-mile) walk. It was good to catch up with him. He burned off more calories than me, but I'm not competitive. :-)

Once home, I had an ice cream sandwich, and worked on my e-mail to the conference organizer and my line management all the way up to my 5th line manager, and IBM VP.


Thanks to you and your team for a high-caliber conference this year! I would also like to thank my management team for the opportunity to attend as a member of the Software Group.

As a first time participant, and a member of the GLBT constituency, which was invited for the first time this year, I wanted to take just a moment to share my impressions, and offer a couple of suggestions to make future conferences even better.

On being a white, GLBT participant...

It was very interesting having these attributes at this conference. Due to the makeup of the invitation list, it was pretty much assumed that if you were a white guy there, you were gay. What this did was let me experience what it's like to be a "visible" minority for a change. It also let me experience being assumed to be gay, while in "real life" I'm assumed to be straight 99% of the time, at least until a conversation is started or until a relationship is established . How refreshingly wonderful to be assumed to be the person I really am. This must be what it's like for straight people to be assumed straight all the time.

I have no recommendation on this; I simply thank you for the opportunity to experience it.

On the "Table Talk" session names...

The names of the roundtable sessions with the executives were named either, "Up Close and Personal with [insert hosting executives names here]," or "Man to Man with...," or "Woman to Woman with...." I found the choice of the "Man to Man with..." and the "Woman to Woman with.." names a little jarring.

First, it seemed to encourage men and women to attend different sessions, which at a diversity conference doesn't feel right. But more than that, with the invitation of transgender people to the conference, I think it could cause some anxiety in choosing one over the other.

And finally, these choices reinforce society's obsession with gender being a "binary switch." I understand that IBM is working to add a third gender marker, which is great. The hard part will be incorporating that notion for our consideration in future decisions not unlike this one.

Recommendation: I know the intent was probably to allow women to discuss "women's issues" and the men, "men's issues," but that can probably be accomplished in a different way, such as naming the sessions around the issues. That way, for example, with changing societal roles, any person could attend a session about balancing their job with being a parent, without any pressure around being a man or a woman.

On getting us up to dance...

When the dance instructors called us all out to the dance floor to teach us the Salsa, they said, "All men who need a partner come over here. All women who need a partner, over here please, and we'll pair you up." Some men wanted to dance with men, and some women wanted to dance with women.

For the GLBT men and women who ended up pairing up in spite of the "matching up," it was probably a little uncomfortable, but more importantly, very confusing to hear the dance instructions in terms of, "Now the woman does three steps like this," and then, "Okay, men, now you take three steps like this." Learning how to dance is about what role you are playing, not about what gender is filling what role.

Recommendation: If we're going to teach dancing at the next one, and I did think it was a great idea, ask the dance instructors to use the role terms "the lead" and "the follow" instead of "the man" and "the woman." Gay people who partner dance know these terms, and it will be obvious to the straight people that "the lead" is the man, and "the follow" is the woman. When two men (or two women) are dancing together, they first have to negotiate who is going to be the lead versus the follow, and many gay dancers, actually know both parts. As for pairing up, "whoever needs a partner come over here," and then work, without the microphone, to pair people up with whomever they'd like to learn with would be more inclusive.

I hope this feedback helps, and it's obvious that it is not, in any way, criticism. I point these things out only because I think they might be subtle, but did not go unnoticed by some GLBT attendees. I applaud IBM's courage in inviting our group to this conference, and am committed to the success of future conferences. I hope participants from the People with Disabilities group, also participating for the first time, provide their insights to you as well.

The sessions presented by Chieko Asakawa and Dr. Hugh Herr gave me goose bumps, and made me so proud to be an IBMer. Thanks, again, for a job extremely well done!

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