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  • Watch Your Tongues
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  • Category: Bigotry

    Assumptions Are Off Color

    | MA, USA | Bigotry, Coworkers, Health & Body

    (I work in a store where, in lieu of uniforms, employees have color-coded name tags designating their sections; blue for kitchen, green for household, etc. I am explaining to a new coworker that I have prosopagnosia, a condition wherein I can’t recognize faces.)

    Coworker #1: “That’s so bizarre! How do you recognize people?”

    Me: “Well, everyone’s faces look the same, so I look for an identifying characteristic, like that you have a purple mohawk, or that coworker has a jacket with [cartoon character] on it that he wears every day.”

    Coworker #1: “So, something that’s really hard to miss and is instantly noticeable? That must make retail interesting!”

    Me: “Oh yeah! Last week—”

    (I am interrupted by another coworker, who has overheard us and come over, interrupting our conversation.)

    Coworker #2: “So what’s my identifying feature?”

    Me: “Oh, that’s easy! It’s because you’re—”

    Coworker #2: “It’s because I’m [race], isn’t it? Everyone’s face is the same except mine, because you just can’t see anything other than a [race] coworker.”

    Me: “Well, you—”

    Coworker #2: “I think it’s disgusting that I’m the only one you can ‘see’ because of my color. You can just ‘see’ me magically.”

    (She continues on for a couple more minutes about racial stereotyping in the workplace. Finally, when she pauses to take a breath…)

    Me: “Actually, it’s because of your name tag. It’s red. You’re the only person with a red name tag, because you’re the manager.”

    Coworker #2: *is quiet for about a minute* “Don’t let it happen again.” *storms off*

    Their Humor Is Handicapped

    , | OH, USA | Bad Behavior, Bigotry, Bosses & Owners, Coworkers

    (I am working the closing shift by doing dishes. All night when there is no customer at the drive through, my coworker on the grill yells what he thinks are funny impersonations of people with mental handicaps.)

    Coworker: “[Manager]! It’s impossible to make [My Name] laugh!”

    Manager: “What? No it isn’t.”

    (I am so focused on doing the dishes that I don’t notice her coming up behind me.)

    Manager: “Hey, [My Name], look.” *pulls out her phone, showing a funny animated GIF involving two cats*

    Me: *bursts out laughing*

    Manager: “See? I told you it is possible to make her laugh!”

    Coworker: “But she doesn’t laugh at me!”

    Me: “Because you’re not funny. And you do realize that my little brother has a disability, right?”

    (My coworker left me alone for the rest of the night!)

    Finally Tipped Off

    , | BC, Canada | Bad Behavior, Bigotry, Employees, Food & Drink, Money

    (I am 21 years old and slightly scruffy looking, but hold a prominent position in an ultrasonic based oil and gas service company in northern British Columbia. I take a vacation down south for a family get together. I go out for breakfast.)

    Me: “Hello. I am looking for the restaurant. Can you help me?”

    Security Guard: “Sir, if you want to go into the casino, I need to see some ID.”

    Me: “That is fine; I was unaware that the restaurant was in there.”

    Security Guard: “It’s not. There is a concession there that sells chips but I need to see your ID first.”

    Me: “Look I just want to sit down at a nice place and have a nice meal. If you insist here is my ID.”

    Security Guard: “Okay, sir, the concession is up the stairs and to the left.”

    (I go up to the concession and ask the woman if she could help me. She promptly points me in the right direction. I head down to the restaurant and get a table where I am placed in the farthest back corner with no view.)

    Waitress: “Yeah, what can I get you?”

    Me: “I will have the candied salmon eggs benedict with a glass of orange juice, please.”

    Waitress: “Are you sure? That is quite expensive.”

    Me: “I can afford it, I assure you.”

    Waitress: “Okay, I’m ‘sure’ you can.”

    (I receive my food and it is quite good, but I flag down the waitress to get a refill.)

    Me: “Hello. Can I get another orange juice, please?”

    Waitress: “You know you have to pay for that, right? They are not free refills. This isn’t a cheap restaurant.”

    Me: “Ma’am, I understand that you probably have a lot of people come in that try to dine and dash. I understand that I am not dressed according to my economic status. However, my mother raised me alone on a waitress’ salary and I have always been a believer in very good tips for good service. You have treated me like scum since I walked in here. People are never who you think them to be and I am quite insulted by this. Do you see that brand new fully loaded 2012 Chevy pick up?” *uses key fob* “That’s mine. I am an honest hard working person who is on vacation. But you know what, since you’re so concerned with my money, don’t worry. Now that you’re not getting a tip the bill will be a lot easier on this poor soul.”

    (The waitress’ face turned bright red and she couldn’t even look at me.)

    Needs To Call Out Racism On The Carpet

    | USA | Bigotry, Coworkers

    (I work for a carpet store/warehouse. The store has six salesmen who take customers on a ’round robin’ basis, meaning when a customer comes in, the next salesman ‘up’ handles them, unless he is busy. One salesman in particular is extremely racist and often skips his turn when minorities come in.)

    Salesman #1: *seeing an African-American family enter* “You take my turn.”

    Salesman #2: “Are you sure?”

    Salesman #1: “Yeah. These [racial slurs] never have any money and want everything at a discount.”

    Salesman #2: “Are you absolutely sure? Okay, then.”

    (Salesman #2 proceeds to spend nearly 45 minutes with the man and his family. After they leave, he returns to his desk to do paperwork.)

    Salesman #1: “That looked like fun. The [racial slur] give you the runaround?”

    Salesman #2: “You didn’t recognize him?”

    Salesman #1: *laughing* “No, why? Was he on America’s Most Wanted?”

    Salesman #2: “That was [First Name]—”

    Salesman #1: “All [racial slur]s are named ‘[First Name].’”

    Salesman #2: “[Full Name]. Plays for the [Sports Team]? He just carpeted his entire house in deep plush.”

    (Salesman #2 made a huge commission on the sale. Salesman #1 never lived it down.)

    Praying For Some Common Sense

    | Toronto, ON, Canada | Bad Behavior, Bigotry, Bosses & Owners, Religion

    (I work for a market research company, where we called people and conduct surveys about various products, business concerns, or political issues. I have been promoted from dialing surveys to training supervisor, where I train new hires how to use our computer system to correctly conduct surveys. I am giving my introductory spiel about the company.)

    Me: “We here at [Company] are a very diverse company, welcoming people from all races, backgrounds, countries, faiths, sexual preferences, etcetera. It is important for you to know that you are supported here. I am aware that people of Islamic faith may need special prayer time that falls outside the prescribed 15 minute break and may also prefer privacy for this. Please don’t hesitate to approach your supervisor and let them know you need to pray. We have an equipment room in the back with enough room for you to pray as you need. I’ll show you when we tour the main office and dialing floor. If for some reason your supervisor does not authorize you to go pray, please come find me on the floor or in the training room and I will make sure you are excused so you may go pray. We don’t want anyone to feel discriminated against for any reason.”

    (Everything seems fine until several days later, when the operations manager, floor manager, and main office manager call me into a meeting.)

    Main Manager: “The reason we asked you in here today, [My Name], is because we’ve received a very disturbing report about you.”

    Me: “What?! What disturbing report?”

    Main Manager: “One of your trainees said you were calling unfair attention to Muslim people and felt it was discriminatory.”

    Ops Manager: “I didn’t want to believe that about you but then I sat in on your orientation and you talked about Muslims and prayer time.”

    Main Manager: “Yes. We have you on tape saying those things, so unfortunately we’re going to have to fire you.”

    Me: “Fire me?! For WHAT?”

    Main Manager: “Racism.”

    Me: “What?!”

    Main Manager: “Yes. The trainee felt you were deliberately pointing out who the Muslim students were and felt very uncomfortable about it and felt it was racist of you to do so. We have agreed with them. Please sign this dismissal agreement.”

    (Pushes a dismissal paper towards me where I’m to acknowledge by signing that I’m being fired and why and that I would not be allowed to collect any unemployment benefits because of this. I’m so floored by all of this that I mutely sign, as it’s clear they won’t listen to me. Then they try to hurriedly hush me up and shove me out of the office. They allow me to get my things from my locker but I am forbidden to talk to anyone on my way out. I manage to tell one fellow trainer before I’m shut up and she’s shocked and dumbfounded as well, but they stop me again and make sure I get my things and leave the office. I’m left in the hallway by the elevator, just me and the Ops Manager.)

    Ops Manager: “I’m sorry it happened this way. You were really very good and I know your trainees and coworkers really liked you. I did, too. If you need a reference letter, I’ll be glad to write you a good one.”

    Me: *crying* “N-No, that’s o-o-okay. I just—”

    (The elevator arrives.)

    Ops Manager: “I’m sorry about this. You take care, okay? *pointedly waits for me to get into the elevator*

    (I was so confused and traumatised by this, having worked for this company for six years and caused little trouble, that I didn’t pursue the issue legally in any way. I also didn’t take the Ops Manager up on his offer of a referral letter, considering what he just participated in against me. I DID make my case to the Unemployment Agency and they saw fit to authorize me to draw unemployment until I could get a new job.)


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