Friday, December 03, 2004

Interlude: Friendly Advice On Office Etiquette

I was living in New Jersey. I had changed jobs about eight months after I got there. My friend, Lisa, had went to work for another healthcare company, called me up and said, "Come over here." Which was probably good because I had spiraled into a funk at that job and was probably going to be fired. I hated it there. I hated our boss, the guy that had interviewed me. He was a male chauvinist pig. In spades. I'm not just saying that either. I was too young and too scared and too everything to know what to do, but the guy had a bad habit of saying things that were really inappropriate. Like, "Are you cold or are you just happy to see me?" while he was staring at somebody's breasts. Not mine in this case, but you get the picture.

I couldn't just quit because I was living from paycheck to paycheck. I had a car payment, insurance, rent, utilities. The things that can make you stay someplace. And, I didn't have any real experience looking for a job. Fortunately, Lisa did the looking for both of us. And, not a moment too soon as that company went into bankruptcy shortly after I left.

Now, if a guy starts acting like that, I just give him "the look" or say, "Ok. That's enough of that"; or, "that's not as funny as you think it is". If that doesn't work, it's a private conversation in his or my office. Fortunately, it has never gone past that, but I will tell you that I would have no qualms at all about taking it higher. None.

I suppose some men might take that to mean that I'm a b*. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. I've had one too many episodes and I don't even classify myself as supremely uptight. (You should be able to infer that by the fact that I'm not adverse to discussing a myriad of topics.) But, I do have my limits.

Obviously, every person has their own line of "comfortability". Your line of comfortability ends at my line of comfortability. The problem in many office situations, outside of some really obvious touching or direct threats of retribution for non-participation, is to know where that line of comfortability is. Only I know my "line". I know that a guy cannot know that line because it is basically "invisible" until I tell him where it is.

Being older and so much wiser...ahem..I've realized that is my responsibility. If I don't set the rules, I can't expect the person to know by ESP. But, if I set the rules and the guy ignores it, I'm not going to sit there and take it.

If I had to give advice to both sexes, I think it would be, regardless of sex (because I know it can happen to men, too):

a) If something makes you uncomfortable, say it, don't hold it in because you're embarrassed or think that people will think that you're over reacting. If you let somebody get away with it the first time, it's all down hill from there. So, hard as it is, suck it up and say something. At the most, you might get a reputation as being un-cool, but the odds are, it will cool the situation immediately. Most people are more receptive to that than getting a reprimand or lawsuit handed to them out of the blue.

b) If you are the recipient of a "hey, that makes me uncomfortable", take it seriously. There is nothing that funny or charming about your personality that you can't keep under control long enough to keep your job and keep from having your pants sued off of you. Further, people that get "sexual harassment" marks on their job performance are imminently un-hirable. Just ask yourself if that raunchy joke, raunchy picture, or leering eyeball is worth that paycheck you get in your bank every two weeks. If you are questioning yourself whether now is a good time to tell that dirty joke or raunchy story, you've already answered the question and it's "no".

c) If somebody doesn't take your hint, don't sit there and take it. Say it again. They still don't get it, it's time to go above their heads, even if they are your manager. I won't lie to you, some companies are not as pro-active about it as others and sometimes they are and the people that just don't take the first hint and end up with a 2X4 between the eyes can also be complete assholes about it because they don't recognize that they are the problem. They can make your life a living hell. Don't take that either, because the laws are there to protect YOU. In the end, it's you that must stand for you, nobody else is going to do it.

d) Lastly, you can leave. But, fair warning, the only thing you've really done is let that person win and left it for the next poor slob to come along and deal with the same situation. On the other hand, if it's that bad, you CAN find another job. Better to leave before it turns into an ugly mess then live in hell. And it is "living" because most of us spend eight to ten hours a day at work, more than we spend at home.


I know right now what's going through a lot of people's heads, "But, Kat, some people are just overly sensitive and can't take a joke." Well, yeah, I've known some folks that I might say the same thing about. However, let me repeat what I said without disclaimer, your line of comfortability ends at their line. Always. There is no joke or picture or whatever worth your job, your livelihood, your house, your car and sometimes your family.

As both a worker bee and a manager, I've seen it all and heard it all. I've heard men tell the nastiest jokes and stories about women while in the company of women they really don't know. I've heard women talking about their menstrual cycles and the lack of their husband/boyfriend's sex drive in the middle of cubicles occupied by both sexes. I've seen managers slap their female employees on the ass (I know, how overtly stupid can you get?). I've seen female managers hanging over their male employees with their shirts dangling open. I've seen the subordinate, both sexes, with a crush on a manager, flirting outrageously, or a crush on a fellow employee where they follow them around. I've seen women who's clothes look like they were going to a club instead of to an office.

Work is not a social club. I know that we live there for a good portion of our lives, but we're just going to have to get over it.

And, ladies, if you are reading this, appropriate office attire does not include hip hugger slacks or skirts cut up to your ass cheeks with little half shirts that show off your belly button ring. Save that for after hours.

I know, some of my male readers are thinking, "Kat, you're just no fun." Babe, I've seen some otherwise really decent people get their asses in a sling over less. This isn't just about the "victim". This is about not opening the door to that victimhood and not becoming the perpetrator, even accidentally.

I know, even just talking about this here can push some people's buttons. You know what? *Push* *Push* *Push*

As a manager, I really don't like to spend my time running around with a ruler, measuring other people's skirt lengths or trying to monitor whether Bobby Ray is telling another one of his stupid jokes over at Billy Ray's cubicle right next to Bonnie Ray who is an evangelical, born again Christian or a Seventh Day Adventists. I'm there to get performance out of people. But, if that means I've got to call somebody in for it, I will because, in the end, it's not only about those two or three people, it's about the office morale, it's about my job on the line for not taking care of it.

And, I am very selfish. I like my job. You can betcha that Billy Ray, Bobby Ray and Tiffany Anne with the little skirt are going to be seeing me long before my job comes in jeopardy.

I know what else is going through your mind, "You can't walk around on a tight line all the time in the office. There's always going to be somebody that has a beef." You're right on both accounts. That's why I don't put any disclaimers here about what IS acceptable because one person's acceptability or comfort line is not the same as another's. I also said that line is invisible. That's why the responsibility is on both parties. One to say they don't care for it and the other to listen and know not to do it again, at least around that person. And most of us don't work in situations where there are so many people in your usual work association circle that you can't remember who that is. Further, I guaran-damn-tee ya' that if one person thought it was unacceptable, the odds are at least one to ten others thought the same thing and just didn't have the guts to say it.

Some other examples of overtly idiotic office behavior:

I was the newly appointed supervisor of a department. We had a lot of interaction with another department just down the hall so their people were routinely in my office going over issues. One of the girls came into my office and was leaning over the front of my desk showing me a report. The manager for that department comes strolling down the hallway (my office was at the end facing out directly), walks into my office directly behind the girl, slaps her on the ass and says, "What are you two talking about?"

Let me just say that the girl was facing me and the look on her face probably mirrored mine, "Oh. My. God. Did he just do that?"

I said, "Umm..D...why don't you go back and look at this a little more and I'll call you later to finish reviewing it." She walked out. I got up, walked over to the door, closed it and was standing there facing him. "I don't ever want to see that again."

Technically, we weren't on the same managerial level, but that was not going to stop me. He got this annoyed look on his face, "What? D... knows I was just playing."

"No, she didn't. And right now she could go up to Human Resources and you'd be walked out the door before the end of the day with a little box full of your crap. Further, you did it in my open doorway. If D. doesn't complain, anybody walking by can make a complaint and you'd be just as screwed if she did it herself. And, I'll tell you one other thing, don't ever put me in this position again. Technically, I should go up to Human Resources and report it. But since I know you need this job and it's the first time I've seen it, I'm willing to let it go, but, I promise you, you ever do that in my sight again or I hear anything similar coming from one of the other women and you'll be up shit creek without a paddle. You with me?"

His shoulders were all bunched up and he was rubbing the back of his neck, "Christ!" he said through gritted teeth.

"Exactly. Now I suggest you get down there and apologize like your life depended on it, because it does." I walked over, opened the door and stood there waiting for him to leave. He left, looking like a man going to his execution, but, wisely, he took my suggestion and apologized.

I can't lie. I was acting pretty tough, but when he left, I shut the door, sat down at my desk and was shaking like a leaf. It's not something you want to do, but, if you don't do it, it's just going to happen again and again. Further, I didn't want him to think I would find that behavior acceptable with me sometime in the future.

He's still employed today. I feel that I did them both a favor and many another woman to come after her. His job was saved, she didn't quit and he's more pro-active about toeing that invisible line.

I know some of you are thinking, "How often does THAT actually happen? I mean, EVERYBODY gets some sort of "sexual harassment" in-service or corporate compliance handbook when they start, right? Besides, with today's atmosphere of sue happy people, nobody is that stupid."

Let me just say this: if you're thinking that then you've been walking around with your head up your ass and you should pull it out before you run into something and hurt yourself. It's happening right now, right around the corner from you, down the hall or maybe in your face. There are plenty of obtuse or just straight out stupid people that are doing this kind of thing and just haven't had the 2x4 applied yet. Yet.

Quite possibly, you're the one doing it and you think it's acceptable because somebody hasn't applied said 2x4. In which case, you're an idiot and I'll have no sympathy for you when you wake up one day with your ass in the wringer and your wife/husband/house/car/children/job flying out the window and you standing there with that stupid look on your face going, "What'd I do?"

Second episode:

I had moved up the ladder and was flying around for the company a bit, but I still had a cubicle at the local facility. It was right outside the area where the pharmacists had their cubicles. One of the male pharmacists, K..., I had known for about two years, but only in a general association. Before that, my space had been no where near his area so I had no idea or history to go from. However, K... had a very bad habit of telling extremely off colored jokes in a very loud voice. It didn't just carry over the cubicles, it echoed.

The first couple of times I heard it, I didn't say anything, but I did hear some of the women that were in the cubicle ask him to knock if off. To which he just laughed and said something like they were being too sensitive. It's just a joke. The next day I hear him talking to another male employee, standing in the same cubicle area, telling him about the problems he was having with his wife. He then says, "Women are such b*'s sometimes." His boss, who is a woman, was apparently near by and says in a "gosh and shucks" kind of tone, "K...really. You think that's necessary?" Which he totally ignores and continues to bemoan his marriage.

For the next three days, I hear similar remarks and admonishments from the women. I even hear one of his male co-workers say, "Dude. Knock it off." K...completely ignores them. By this time, I've figured out that K... is an overgrown frat boy that thinks his jokes are funny and if you don't laugh with him, too bad, your just uptight. Or, worse. Further, he has also figured out that he can go on and keep doing what he's doing because no one is going to stir something up, not even his boss. They have to work with him and it's difficult enough as it is without causing a scene. And, frankly, he was beginning to get on my nerves. There's nothing like being on a conference call with a customer and having his loud, obnoxious voice echoing some obscene joke into the receiver and hear the customer saying, "What's that?"

At the end of the week, I'd had just about enough. I waited until everyone was gone to try and spare him the embarrassment. He was the pharmacist on call so he was there late, too. I walked over to his cubicle and said, "K... do you got a second?"

"Sure. What's up?"

"K...I've been sitting in the cubicle across from here and I've got to tell you that your jokes and stories are out of line. I think you're embarrassing some of your co-workers and I know it's bothering me."

He was getting an irritated look on his face, "What? No way. Everybody's always laughing and telling jokes. Nobody's said anything to me before." As if to indicate that the only person it was bothering is me and there is something wrong with me if I don't laugh with them.

"K...There's a big difference between nervous laughter and big belly laughs. You're not that funny. I think you should tone it down." As in, "knock it off".

"Ok. Whatever." He turned away looking agitated and embarrassed.

I wish I could say that was the end of that, but, unfortunately, I think my first assessment of his character was correct: overgrown frat boy. Add on to that: "who thinks he's at an eternal keg party and the sorority girls find him irresistible when he talks dirty". Considering most of his raunchier stories included his days as a college athlete and parties at his fraternity, I'm sure I wasn't that far off.

Unfortunately for K..., another female employee was not near as kind as I was to give him the heads up. While I was gone the following week, K...was written up. Since he could not fathom what it was that was so irritating, he also could not fathom how to behave. He proceeded to make snide remarks to, and about, the person that complained.

K...lost his job the next week. His wife was eight months pregnant, he had a mortgage and two car payments. The only person I felt sorry for was his wife.

Some where, K...is at another job and is probably doing it all over again.

Some people never learn.

Third episode:

Some women can be just as obtuse as men. Maybe more so because they don't think that they can be responsible for sexual harassment. Well girls, think again.

I had an employee, "C". She had a proclivity for wearing very short dresses to the office. I mean, if the skirt hit mid thigh, I'd consider it long on her. She was about thirty five, but had a very nice build and she liked to show it off. As you might know, the men in the office were not adverse to her style of dress.

She also had a bad habit of bending from the waist over the file cabinets, over the desks, over whatever. Now I know a bunch of you guys are thinking, "Woohoo. My kind of girl." You know what? That's exactly what the problem was.

After several complaints from the women (I know; mood killers, aren't they?), I called "C" into my office, handed her the dress code and asked her to read it. When she was done, I asked, "Do you see anything in there that might apply to you?"

"C" looked confused, "What? I dress appropriately." Riiiiigggght.

"Did you read the section on the proper length of the skirt?"

"Yes." Still no clue.

"Does the dress that you're wearing meet the guidelines?" 2x4 coming right up.

"You think it's too short?" Ding, ding, ding. Give that lady a prize.

"Yes. I need you to make sure that your skirts start meeting the minimal length"

"But this is what ALL my dresses are like." She whined.

"Sorry. You'll have to go through your closet or buy some appropriate wear." Then I dismissed her from my office where she promptly went out and complained to the very women that were complaining about her about how mean I was. Go figure.

Before I go on with the rest of that story, let me tell you why this is important from a managers stand point. First of all, in case you haven't figured it out, every time she bent over and showed her ass cheeks to the other women in the office, this could be construed as "sexual harassment". I know that sounds weird, but there ya' go. Second of all, she was definitely the kind of person that would scream bloody murder if a guy actually took her up on her not so subtle offer. Because that's what it was. Not so subtle and an offer, as obtuse as she tried to make herself out to be. Then, all hell would have broke loose. I'd much rather have her in my office getting a lecture from me about the dress code than have her in my office filing a complaint about one of the guys or, worse, me getting a call out of the blue from HR questioning me about it.

Recall that I am selfish and like my job. As far as I'm concerned, she can put some clothes on and the guys can stop ogling her. My paycheck is much more important than somebody's worktime entertainment.

On with the story. The next day, she comes into my office. "What can I do for you?"

"I just want to know if this skirt is too short."

What? Now she's either being a pain in my ass or she is just that stupid. ""C", I'm not going to walk around with a ruler and measure your skirt lengths."

"Well, I just don't want to get in trouble again." Yep. She's being a pain in my ass. Punish the boss for making her have to think about what she's wearing.

"Look. I'll give you a little guideline to help you out. When you get dressed in the morning, I want you to look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Will Kat think it's too short?" If the answer is "Yes", then don't wear it. If the answer is "maybe", then don't wear it. If the answer is "No", then you're probably safe. Now, look at what you're wearing. What do you think my answer is right now?"

"Yes, it's too short?" I was making a supreme effort not to roll my eyes.

"Very good. Now, go home, change your clothes and come back when you've determined that your skirt is long enough. Better yet, might I suggest some pants?"

Hold on to your hats, boys and girls, it just gets better.

About a week later, one of the male managers from an adjacent department comes into my office. He is looking very embarrassed. After checking to see who is outside my door, he closes it, stands there with his hands in his pockets, his shoulders all scrunched up, and a pained look on his face.

""H", what can I do for you?" I'm thinking he's got a huge problem in his department that he needs to get fixed before the big boss finds out.

"Well...I...uhhh...ummm...huh ahem...You know...huh ahem...your employee, "C"?" He can't even look at me. I'm pretty sure it's taking just about everything he's got to get it out.

By now, I'm thinking "well, shit", "Yes," prompting him a little.

"Huh ahem...she..uhh...she's been...uhhh..spending a lot of...huh ahem...time down in my office."

I got the picture almost instantly. I figure, if a guy has gotten up the guts to come down to my office and tell me that one of my female employees has been "spending a lot of time" in his office, there's been a whole hell of a lot more going on than reviewing reports and files. I'm also wondering where the hell her supervisor's been if she doesn't notice one of her employees being gone that much. And, I'm sure it's "that much" simply because I have never had a male co-worker ever complain about a female worker before.

"I see. Besides being in your office, is there something else I should be concerned about?" Not that I really want the details or really want to see him squirm, but I really don't want that infamous, out of the blue phone call from HR. So, embarrassment or not, bizarre or otherwise, I need to know.

I painfully drag it out of him that she's been, among other things, massaging his shoulders, leaning over him and rubbing body parts on his arm or in close proximity to his face.

I realize that my guy readers are thinking, "Oh, yeah," or thinking that his guy is either gay, a putz or I'm full of shit. Let me give you a little more context. This guy was recently re-united with his wife after a three month separation because she accused him of cheating on her. I don't know if that was true or not, but my little employee "C" had a habit of wearing very cloying perfume along with her short skirts. You figure it out what he was worried about.

Second, the story was all over the building that she had come away from her last job with a nice little settlement after accusing one of the managers there of sexual harassment. Recall earlier what I said about the probability of her "screaming bloody murder" if somebody actually took her up on the offer.

In reality, this guy, as embarrassing as it was, was playing it exceedingly smart. Some folks might think that he should just flat out tell her to "buzz off" and be done with it. If you think that, you've never been involved with an employee/management dispute before. Particularly, one involving sexual harassment. What he was doing, swallowing his manly pride, was protecting his ass. Better to come down, talk to me, get another manager involved and cover his ass. In this case, somebody else knows what's going on "for real" and it can't be thrown back at him.

Lastly, if he is involved in some way and is trying to scoot his way out of it, he's still playing it smart because he's laying the ground for cover before it blows up in his face.

Me, I didn't care which one it was. I didn't want it blowing up in MY face.

I told him I'd take care of it and he left looking extremely relieved. I called in the supervisor, "You know "C"'s been down at "H"'s office lately?" Sort of. "What's she been doing?" Work, I think. "What kind of work has she been doing that needs her down there everyday?" Uhhh.... "That's what I thought." In which case I gave her a lecture about her responsibilities as a supervisor. "Get "C" and both of you come back in here." Recall my words earlier. In certain situations, never, ever do this by yourself. CYA, all the way.

""C", I understand you've been spending a lot of time out of our department lately. Where've you been?"

"Oh, just over in the admissions office." Big innocent eyes. Blink, blink, blink.

"Really? What have you been doing over there?"

"Working." Big innocent eyes. Blink, blink, blink. I really have no idea who she thought that look was working on. Seriously, as if I don't know how that works.

"Uh-huh. What department do you work in?" I can play "are you stupid", too.

"Billing." Confused look.

"Where's your desk at?" You're going to make me do this all the way aren't you?

"Right next to "G"." Confused even more.

"Well, I'm glad we have that understanding. My expectations are that you remain in this department and do your work. If you need to work with the other department, email and the phone work wonders. If you think you need to go over there and talk to somebody, then I expect that you will ask your supervisor for permission." I looked at her supervisor directly and then back to her, "And, I expect that those occasions will be extremely limited. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes." Still trying to play miss innocent, but starting to get a poutty look on her face.

"Good." I dismissed them from my office and started making notes on the subject for her drop file.

If you haven't figured it out by now, "C" does not know when to quit. She went out into the office and proceeded to tell everyone how mean I was and how I was hindering her ability to work. The next day, my boss calls me to his office.

"What's this about "C"? She tells me she feels that you have it out for her."

You know, some people just don't know what's good for them. Now, I had to tell him about the situation with the clothes, the "H" problem and why I was lecturing her. Now, I had to actually write this damn thing up and report it to HR. Now, if she thought she was being persecuted before, she couldn't fart side ways in my department without it going to her file.

Fortunately, I was spared further pain and agony when, two weeks later, she handed me her resignation. She was smart enough not to ask me for a letter of recommendation.

I felt sorry for her next boss.

Fourth episode:

After a long day of meetings, the head boss for our division decided that we should all go out to dinner with the two new sales representatives for the facility. In our party of seven, I am the only woman. Four of the men I've worked with for a year or longer. The two new sales representatives I had just met about two hours before dinner.

Can you see where this is going? We go to the resteraunt and space our selves out, making sure that the sales representatives are not sitting side by side on one side of the table while we are on the other. This is basic table etiquette. You're not there to interrogate these people. This is a "getting to know you" session and is best handled by interspersing the people from the facility, the new people and the division people around the table to facilitate this activity.

As luck would have it, one of the new sales representatives was on my left, the branch manager was on my right, the rest around the table in like manner. After ordering drinks, several conversations start up around the table. I'm talking to the new representative. "So, where did you work before? You're married? How long have you been in the area? Do you like the area you're living in?" and like inanities. The drinks come, we pause for a moment, everyone goes back to their conversations.

I am dressed in a black pants suit. I have a white knit shirt on with the black print of horses going across the chest. The jacket is open. He says, "So, do you like horses?"

"Pardon?"

He nods towards my shirt, I look down. Now I'm a little embarrassed because I realize he was staring at my chest. But, it does have horses on it, so I shrug it off and answer, "Oh..yeah. Had some when I was a kid and lived on the farm. Now I'm just a city dweller."

He proceeds to tell me about his daughter taking horse riding lessons and his wife and he discussing whether they are going to buy her one. I relax again back in the chair, sipping my wine. The restraunt was getting a little louder, so, as we are talking, he leans forward a little bit and then he puts his hand on my thigh and rests it there.

We're not talking about a simple touch on the knee. We're talking full palm on my mid-thigh. Now, that gives me pause. He's leaning forward and smiling and has his hand on my thigh. He's the new sales representative that I just met two hours previously. We are at a business dinner. We certainly have not had any association long enough nor friendly enough for him to think that touching me is acceptable, much less resting his hand on my thigh. I glanced over at the table to see if he had had more than the one drink I saw him finish. Nope.

Things are running through my mind while I very quickly contemplate how to alleviate the situation with as little embarrassment to him and myself as possible. I'm thinking, "Okay, he's a sales representative. Sales reps try to initiate personal relationships with their customers and touching is personal. ON the other hand, if he touches any of our customers or referral sources like that, we're probably going to get sued. And, hey, he still isn't moving his hand off my leg."

So, I smile politely at what he's saying and I reach down, take his hand off my thigh and put it on the arm of his chair. He looks confused for a second and then goes on with his conversation. No apology. No embarrasment. It's just how he is apparently. Alrighty then.

The second round of drinks and the appetizers were brought to the table and everyone turns and starts general conversations with other people. The branch manager, who the sales rep reports to, is looking at me inquiringly, nods his head towards the sales rep that is now talking to the vice president and says, "Everything all right? What was that about?" Apparently, he had seen the little episode.

I shrug my shoulders. The sales rep doesn't even know it yet, but he just got a big, yellow caution flag next to his name.

A few minutes later, everyone is talking in general about their past experiences with other companies and jobs. The sales rep in question tells us that he had worked at a women's prison and begins to tell what he might consider risqué, but what I considered "raunchy", stories about life in a women's prison.

Now, had this been an all male situation and they were "bonding", maybe the men at the table would have been more receptive. (I realize that some of the male readers here might be waiting with baited breath for the details of the story, but I'll just let you use your imagination). Within the first minute or minute and a half, I was definitely feeling uncomfortable. I was also looking at the table again thinking, "How many drinks HAS this guy had?" The other men were starting to clear their throats and look at their drinks. I stood up and said, "Excuse me," all the men stood up, "I'll be right back." And I started walking to the ladies' room. I didn't actually need to go, but I thought it would give some time to clear the air.

They got the message. When I was about five feet from the table, I heard my boss say, "S... I don't think we need to hear that story." Bing. Yellow flag on corner two.

After dinner, we were walking to the cars; my boss walk's me to mine (my boss being the vice president), "I'm sorry about what happened at the table."

"Thank you for taking care of it." I was NOT going to say it was not a problem. It was.

"H...(branch manager) said he was touching your leg. What was that about?"

"I don't know. I just put his hand back on his chair." Seriously, what did he think it was about?

My boss is looking off towards the other cars where S... is getting in his, "I don't want you to worry. I'll take care of it."

And he did. When I flew back to the facility the next week, S... was gone.

Now, you have to understand, this wasn't just about me. This was also about my boss and the company. If "S" was allowed to go on, he could put us in a situation where the company was being sued. If my boss did not take care of it and something happened, his ass would be in the sling, too. In which case, aside from being considerate to me, this was a giant case of pre-emptive CYA and there is nothing wrong with that.

Well, now, as you might have figured out, these little episodes had a profound effect on me. And, although I've compressed them here for you, these are nearly eighteen years of experience and are just a few of the examples of scenarios I've come across in that time period.

I was more fortunate than some. In the one case, I was able to leave. In others, I was able to handle it directly without a lot of hullabaloo. In a few, the people just couldn't get it through their thick heads that their behavior had crossed that invisible line.

I've also come to realize that many people would prefer to just put their heads down and ignore it so they won't be considered "square", a "nark", or are hoping that it just goes away.

News Flash: It never goes away. Somebody's like that, their going to stay that way until you tell them or until they get the big 2x4 upside the head. Unfortunately, as I've pointed out, that doesn't always work either.

To summarize:

1) If something is bothering you or making you uncomfortable, say it.

2) If somebody says that they are uncomfortable with something you've said, don't get your panties in a wad, just be happy they told you first and shut up.

3) If somebody doesn't get the hint, say it again. They still don't get it, go see somebody. Don't be a putz and let the rest of the people around you suffer because you’re afraid of being "un-cool" in the office.

4) If you're reading this and you're thinking that people are just too damn sensitive and ought to get over it, it is most likely that you're one of the people that are doing it. Please leave your name, address and diameter of your head in the comment section. A custom sized 2x4 will be coming your way shortly.

6 comments:

Tom said...

I'd say your advice is pretty good. There's a certain point in life where you just have to be brave enough and come right out and say what's bothering you. I think there's a line of thinking that says it's ok to bottle it up for years and then go get a lawyer. The legal stuff is certainly appropriate in many cases, but it can oftimes be avoided if people took your advice.

MichaelH121 said...

I seem to be the one getting the wood shampoo.

Not by what I say or do but by the women that seem to flirt. I see a lot of people during the day. Going into their homes, businesses, and I don't know but the past few years it is as if the PC rules are so strict when I come in and do not work with them, they just let out all that pent up stuff.

Now I have mentioned I do get embarrased. Just the way I was raised. I have heard it all, and probably said a lot of it all, Army life will do that to a Morman.

I have had my butt smacked, grabbed, I have heard a lot of suggestive comments. But I am not in a position to be sexually harrassed. I can't say that some comments are not flattering. In fact one woman called the shop, and said She "..wanted the guy with the cute butt.." that went well with the rest of the guys at the shop. I will never live that down.

I do not take it further. I do not try. I just let them get it out. I used to deliver at banks and got the same thing. I think it has a lot to do with they cannot yell back at the jerk customers, or co-workers.

I AM NOT A PIECE OF MEAT!!! :o)

See my previous comment on your last post and life gets really screwy sometimes.

On another note it is SUNNY 46.9 degrees right now and I am going riding. Christmas shopping on a bike. Jingle bells, jingle bells, cycles all the way.

Kat said...

Michael...LOL just drop me an email, I'll be happy provide the wood shampoo.

By the way, where ARE you? It's about the same temperature here but the bike is already up and my shopping will require the back of my truck. I've never been partial to strapping anything larger than a briefcase to the back of my bike with a bungee cord. :)

As for the other, I have to say that the guy I've always felt the most for was our UPS man. LOL

You kinda get what I was saying. the PC part is about who you're dealing with. I know that I've worked with several of the guys at our company for several years, had drinks with them and shared some jokes and flirty conversations. I guess the point I was trying to make is "know who you are dealing with and don't assume anything" added in with "use some common sense".

No use getting fired or reprimanded because somebody wasn't as receptive to the humor.

If somebody isn't good enough to let you know that you might have crossed the line, I put equal blame on them, but it might not save you from consequences.

"Piece of meat"? you poor baby. LOL

MichaelH121 said...

I am in Cincinnati. It got up to 52 but windy about 25 MPH winds with 30-40 gusts. So it was a little chilly.
I was just looking for small stuff. My little sis wants a voice recorder. So out I was if its 50 and sunny I have to go out I am on the bike. May be the last day for it though.


I worked with a guy and every other word was the F-bomb no matter who was standing there. He and his wife had a kid so it turned into about every fourth word.

Some people just need a little re-education. Or manners.

As a writer Harlen Ellison once wrote in a story, the wife asked if her husband was awake he said he was not, she said then why did you answer me, he said I was raised polite.

Robert said...

"I suppose some men might take that to mean that I'm a b*. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. I've had one too many episodes and I don't even classify myself as supremely uptight. (You should be able to infer that by the fact that I'm not adverse to discussing a myriad of topics.) But, I do have my limits."
No Kat, you don't. You sound like a dear, please don't change.

Going onto the subject of women wearing too little, I think it is just uneeded and many times bordering on repulsive. Are you a person or just a sex drive with a brain? I mean, come on. If you have a good body, most any clothes will be flattering on you, so don't push it. It's not like you have to try hard to get guys to fall head over heels for you, ladies.

Whenever someone does something in a business situation, there is a alot more at stake than in any other circumstance. If someone can't afford damaging their status at their job (for whatever reason) they may be reluctant to make a big hullabaloo.

And anyway, touching a co-worker is just stupid, not to mention (I think) disrespectful. I'm not saying you should be putting your frickin' coat in puddles, men, but be gallant, eh?

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

I must confess that I look dearly forward to Fridays, because that's "casual" day, and the 20-something chicas at the bank are usually in low-rise jeans, and while the top is ostensibly full-length, there is usually that inch or so of midriff... **ahem**

I made sure to get put in a cube on the 3rd floor where they have the retirement plans call center......

........did somebody say something?