I Don’t Get No Respect

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been feeling under-respected lately.  And the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s not just a recent thing.

In school, I was known as the smart kid in the class.  Anybody who’s ever been a kid knows that “smart” is not a highly-regarded quality in the schoolyard.  Fortunately I was also a jock so I didn’t suffer too badly, but it was a relief to go on to university where “smart” would get some respect.

Little did I know.

I actually wanted to go into engineering, but my parents convinced me that a) I shouldn’t neglect my artistic side; b) my brother was already in engineering and I shouldn’t compete; and c) interior design would be a better career for me because when I got married and had a family, I could make the house look nice for my husband.

As wince-worthy as that advice is now, it was well-meant at the time and like the dutiful daughter I was, I followed it.

Interior design was not a good fit.  *cue uproarious laughter at the understatement of the century*

I was really good at the technical side.  I totally sucked at the design part.

Whenever somebody asked me what I did for a living, I cringed.  When I told them, their instant reaction was to pat me on the head and tell me how nice and girly it was for me to make houses pretty.

I spent far too much time explaining that no; interior decorators only pick pretty colours.  Interior designers take a brutal four-year university bachelor’s degree, draft plans and construction details for walls, casework, and millwork, know the ins and outs of building codes and fire codes, supervise construction sites, and administer complex project tenders and contracts.  And they pick pretty colours.

Unless they’re me.  Then they get one of the other designers to pick pretty colours for them.

After twelve excruciating years, I switched to IT, which suited me much better.  You’d think that would garner some respect, but it turns out that announcing you’re a computer geek stops conversations dead.  People’s eyes dart sideways, they mumble, “I don’t know anything about computers”, and then they flee.

You’d think I was trying to engage them in a rousing discussion about PPPoE protocol or something.

Okay, fine.  So now I’m an author.

When I tell people that, they recoil as if I’d just stuck my hand down my pants and started smiling and humming.  Usually they mutter something to the effect of “Oh, God, another author” and flee.

Or they pat me on the head and tell me how nice and girly it is for me to write pretty little romances.


Have you seen my books?

So I give up.  From now on when people ask me what I do, I’m going to tell them I’m a cannibalistic serial killer.  And that they’re looking particularly tasty today.

They’ll still flee, but at least I’ll get a laugh out of it.

Anybody else getting respect for their career?  Please… tell me what it’s like…

* * *

Many thanks to Shree over at Heartsongs for nominating me for the Liebster and One Lovely Blog awards!  To (kinda) fulfill the requirements of the awards, here’s a link to a couple of posts with obscure facts about me, and please pop over to visit my favourite bloggers – they’re in the blogroll at the right.  Thanks!

45 thoughts on “I Don’t Get No Respect

  1. Face it, Diane: you’re a Renaissance Woman, and they’re rarely appreciated until after they’re gone. If anyone asked, I used to tell people I was a writer. That always stopped the conversation stone dead. Writers are admired from a distance, but up close they’re weird and scary. I don’t know why. But no one asks anymore, anyway.

    I can’t imagine anyone trying to pat you on the head.


    • Thanks, Charles – I’m going to cling to the “admired from a distance” thought. 🙂 And the pats were metaphorical, fortunately. I can’t remember the last time anybody physically patted me on the head. It must be the “weird and scary” vibe that holds them off. I think I like being weird and scary…


  2. In this day and age, when everyone has at least one computer, people are STILL reacting that way when you tell them you’re in IT?? That’s a lot of different kinds of wrong. When I worked in Pharma, I didn’t get a lot of props for it. “You work for Big Pharma??? But they’re Evil!” Or they would ask me if I could get them samples of Vicodin (no, I couldn’t). Now that I’m doing patient advocacy I get a little more respect, but mostly I have to explain to people what the hell a patient advocate actually is.


    • Patient advocacy is so important! When I think of all the times I had to be “firm” about getting adequate care for my dad in the hospital, I shudder. You know, little things like discovering they’d forgotten to hook up his oxygen line. It wasn’t always that drastic, but lots of times we had to speak up when he couldn’t.

      He had a wife and two daughters looking out for him. I have no kids and if I outlive Hubby, I sure hope there’s a patient advocate around for me when I need one.


  3. I ‘work’ in IT now, Diane, but I can’t see myself as being classed as a geek. Geeks tend to know about computer stuff, whereas I don’t. I’m learning, but forgetting in double quick time! I get the sympathetic ‘aw, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but it’s OK’ look when in work, I wouldn’t say respectfully, and when out of work, and asked what do I do, I dart my eyes sideways, mumble and flee. That tactic always comes in useful…


  4. No respect – tell me about it. I ended up in Physics and I was better suited for sheep herding.

    The next time people see me with my hand down my pants, smiling and humming, I’ll think of you. (That didn’t come out right.)

    And when they tell you how “girly it is … to write pretty little romances,” send them my way. I’ll show them how to write romance novels.


    • The thought of you smiling and humming with your hand down your pants makes me smile. (That didn’t come out right, either…)

      And I’ll definitely send them your way for Fallen Arches. Everybody should experience romance novels like that. 😀


  5. Diane you are “totally respected” by those of us who know and adore your zany sense of humour and have had the occasion to hire your IT skills. The career choice thing was dicey back in the late ’50’s,’feminists’ said follow your hearts and be independent. Most women were still encouraged to find a husband with a good career. I followed my heart into the arts and creating pottery and married an interior designer LOL. I remember my father saying at my graduation – Congratulations BUT how are you going to make a living? Well I soon ditched the ‘designer’,then worked for 20 years in interior design studios as support staff (rent money) taught & potted evenings & weekends, finally full time for another 30 years. Customer would come into my studio and ask what “I did for a living” – they seemed to think pottery was just a hobby, so know where you are coming from! Just think of how happy you are following your bliss and stop hanging our with those “other” people 🙂


    • Thanks, Lesley! You were wise to follow your heart – you do such beautiful work. I still enjoy the majolica spaghetti set you made. The luckiest people are those who can make a living doing what they love!


  6. My wife hears you on the IT bit. She was in one of the early classes at SAIT circa 1968 and then went on to become a senior IT manager. I started in IT in 1968 as well and if you think being a loaner is a show stopper, try going to a party where someone asks “what do you do” and you tell them. They then look to your spouse for some relief and get hit with the same thing. You can see the wheels turning as they try to extricate themselves from the pit they just fell into.


  7. I have to laugh first…because it was so funny!!!
    Ahem…okay…*thinks about the last but not least reason you had to take interior designing* …teeheehee.
    I feel all those people that cringe and flee are silly! I can imagine such wonderful conversations with an IT expert AND an author! I mean…really..hmm..you might want to expand your circle of people that you meet!
    You love what you do! At least I’m sure you love writing your novels..and truly there aren’t that many people out there who can say that they love what they do..and that, is something to be totally respected 🙂


    • Thanks! And you’re absolutely right, I do love writing my novels. I never really know what’s going to happen. Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, one of my characters goes and does something totally unexpected… 😉


  8. As a teacher, I get, “Wow, I could never do that!” to my face, and then get to hear people insult them on a regular basis in the media. Even teachers insult teachers.
    My husband is a landscape architect, and gets pretty much the reaction you got for interior designer. Most people think he mows lawns and plants flowers. I’m not sure what profession IS respected these days – maybe reality show producer?


    • I will never understand why people insult teachers. Anybody who’ll voluntarily face a roomful of hormonal adolescents is both incredibly brave and slightly crazy. I wouldn’t mess with a combination like that. Not to mention the small matter of shaping our future leaders… y’know, the ones who’ll be governing the country when we’re all too old and feeble to do anything about it.

      Maybe butchers get respect… at least when they have knives in their hands…


  9. “When I tell people that, they recoil as if I’d just stuck my hand down my pants and started smiling and humming.”

    Thanks a lot. Now I’m going to think about that every time I open a word document and start to type. *grin*


  10. Im a military mechanic… Any real mechanic knows that our training is very sub-par and decades out of date. And other people just nod and go ooooh you are in the army eh… I met an army guy once so i know what you are all like lol.


  11. I’m so happy to learn of your new career! I’ve always wanted to know a cannibalistic serial killer…

    So often we don’t listen to our guts when it comes to career decisions. I was asked in high school what was the point of me taking honors math when I could find a husband and have him support me? I kid you not. Luckily, I didn’t listen, and thankfully, the message has shifted for girls. Well, some messages. Others are still painfully evident.


  12. You are not alone. However, you need to remember where I work, you think they flee from you. I can beat that….they make nasty noises and really would like to hurt me before they run for the hills……

    I never get to tell them that I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.



  13. No matter what you do, nay sayers have away of getting under your skin!
    Homemaker? Respect? That is funny!
    I am going to college, now. “At your age? Wow!”,the younbees say. Not sure that is respect, but, I suspect probably not.


  14. I also fell into the rut of Interior Design (Working with Diane was one of the few-and-far-between highlights) We used to take turns at “Joke du Jour” before the arrival of email humor… whatever happened to the fine art of joke telling?? Back to career choices. My Mom suggested that I should become a Dentist: ” They make good money!” Not enough that the suicide rate in Finland, where I grew up, is the highest in the world, but the statistics for dentists in the same category are also frightening. Her other idea was just as frightening: “You should become a secretary and get a job in some foreign embassy and marry a nice diplomat” (and live happily ever after, I presume). I, on the other hand, wanted to become an actress or a veterinarian. The first alternative would have bombed big time with my parents and the second was not feasable, because they only taught short courses in math and sciences in the girls-only-school I attended. One of my class mates had her heart set on Interior Design and asked if I wanted to do the 3-week qualification course with her. Why not, I always liked art class in school. 5% of all applicants got in, including me.
    Here comes the engineering connection: My Dad and my Bro were engineers. I’m convinced that this is genetic. I think like an engineer. Everything I ever designed worked perfectly. Not so much the pretty colours. I didn’t gravitate towards IT, instead I zeroed in on spec writing, tutoring young designers, solving complicated construction details and QC. I really like my present career choice: RETARDED!


    • LOL! Love your current career choice! The first time I saw one of your construction details, a big light came on and I thought, “So that’s how they’re supposed to look!” They were works of art.

      And oh, yeah, that whole “math and science” thing. I tried to take calculus for my elective in university, but they wouldn’t let me. Interior designers aren’t allowed to take calculus.

      We engineering wannabees have to stick together… 😀


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