The Whore of Babylon

Okay, maybe not Babylon. I’m not THAT far out on Long Island. But today, I definitely felt like a whore. Or maybe a bitch. Yeah- today, I was everybody’s bitch.

I decided to become an architect early on in life. You see, I was a Brady Bunch fan. I loved Greg, was jealous of Marsha and wanted to slap Cindy around. And before I knew he was gay, I loved Mike Brady. I waited anxiously for him to come home from the office with a roll of plans, or catch him in his office at his drafting table- damn those kids for always interrupting his creativity! And Mrs. Brady. How many times I seethed when she draped herself around him while he was trying to work. Yes, I loved and admired Mike. Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be, I would say (after my customs-inspector stage) an Architect. If Mike could support six kids, a trendy wife, a live-in housekeeper, huge house and awesome vacations to Hawaii then architect looked pretty good to me. Plus I could draw and was pretty creative. I knew I wouldn’t make any money being an artist, so it seemed like the perfect job.

Um. Yeah.

Fast forward to college. I was at an immediate disadvantage my first year at NYIT. I didn’t know how to draft, I had no tools and had no idea how to use them once I bought them. Drafting was NOT taught in college- most of my classmates had taken drafting in high school. Add the construction classes to my confusion. Again, a lot of my male classmates worked construction after school or during the summer. I didn’t know a stud from a beam.

Throw into that mixture of college angst a fiance and a wedding and cook up a recipe for disaster.

Fast forward my first architectural job. A small architectural firm in Queens. My mom put in a good word for me there (she had dated one of the partners and the other partner lived a block away from them.) I learned how to make blueprints the ammonia way, stand in line at the building department (several hundred times pregnant) and how to produce a set of construction drawings that eventually didn’t look like they were bleeding after the partners got through marking it up with the red pen. I was happy there (except for the time the guy came in with the gun- but that’s another blog post) but the pay was paltry. I was basically there just to serve the apprenticeship before I took the exam to become a registered architect. I was married with a baby and both salaries weren’t cutting it, however. And it was here I learned that architects are whores.

Philip Johnson, one of the greatest architects of the 20th Century said it best- “Architects are pretty much high-class whores. We can turn down projects the way they can turn down some clients, but we’ve both got to say yes to someone if we want to stay in business. ” So right. And you can be the cleverest, most innovative, artistic architect in the world- if the client doesn’t like that color because it’s too “mustardy” then you have to change it.

Fast forward to my second architectural job. Regretfully, I left the first job for double the salary working for New York City Housing and Preservation and Development. Earning my halo renovating abandoned crack houses for low and middle class housing. Learned Autocad. Worked my way up to supervising 10 other architects. Lived through the drama of a morally corrupt set of bosses. Got pregnant with Obdurate Daughter. Divorced Ex-Asshole. Met my hubby-to-be. Was tenth in line to become a Permanent employee. Got passed over in favor of all “the good ole boys”. Filed a EEO complaint. Answered an ad in the Times (thanks, Frank) for my current job.

Sidestep, please, to the Registered Architect Exam. In order to take responsibility for your drawings and project, one must be registered with the State of New York as an architect. In order to become registered, one must pass an exam.

The Mother of All Exams.

Harder than the Bar Exam.

Harder than the Medical Exam.

This test (in my day) was four days long, composed of nine parts- Structures, Planning, Design, Plumbing/HVAC, Site Design, etc. The LAST day was a 12 hour long exam where you plan a building within the guidelines and produce a full set of drawings. I know people who have thrown up before this test, have taken this test nine times and who have had nervous breakdowns because of this last exam. I’ve taken it three times, as had MR. All in all, he’s passed five parts of this torture test, I’ve passed two. Is it something I wish I’ve accomplished? Yes. Do I need it for my current job? No. It would have been nice to be registered, but then again, think of the liability insurance…

Fast forward to my next job, the present job. I started in my current job as Chief Architect. I was responsible for plans and fit-studies of the home office of a major Financial Institution. I designed trading floors. I spoke with heads of departments. I instituted Archibus (a facilities database) to help with cost allocation. I was one of a kind in my little world of Facilities. I was newly married to MR.

Fast forward through one merger and one layoff then 12 years later. I no longer do design. I no longer do planning. I do mostly data input. I have a deadline one week out of every quarter. And it seems that everyone wants a piece of my ass during that week. And I usually get my period around that time, so it makes the idiocy that I deal with all the more idiotic. But isn’t this your job, you may ask? Don’t people need the reports that you produce? Yes they do, and I do support management with my reports. It’s all the “extra” crap that’s not really in my job description that people ask me to do because they know it will be right, and they’ll get it quickly if I do it.

I won’t go into specifics about who and what pisses me off. I don’t want to be “Dooced“. But today I should have just laid down on my back and let them have at me. They did anyway. And they didn’t even offer me a smoke.

Curse you, Mike Brady.

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