My first job working in an office offered a curious lesson the very first morning. My mentor was a 70 something man with permanent smile who seemed amused that I had made it into the office but he obeyed orders and did his best to show me the ropes.
To get started, he introduced me to Margie, who served all the men in that office as their gopher, secretary, whatever was needed. So my first morning, he insisted, “Tell Margie to fetch you some coffee.”
I told him that I did not feel comfortable ordering a woman to get my coffee. He laughed and explained this is how things work and repeated his first order. “Tell Margie to fetch you some coffee.” I can still feel the puzzlement of my 18 year-old self till I looked at Margie and saw a wink. So I obeyed and ‘ordered her’, “Margie, fetch my coffee. Please.”
Sometime later that day, Margie got me alone and offered, “I really appreciate what you were doing in there. You can order me to get your coffee any time you want and I promise never to spit in yours.”
It became our private joke. Now and then, as she set his coffee on the desk, she would grin at me and wink.’