I do a uStream show Monday nights at 9:30 PM Central. One of the topics this week was how I view people.
Generally speaking, I'm a fairly firm believer in equality across the lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, level of education and/or intelligence, and other such factors. What that means to me is that you're just as good and worthy a person as I am, even if you're female, gay, of a different race or ethnicity than me, have a different amount of education, or any other such thing that people tend to judge others. So long as I'm dealing with people who present themselves as the sort of folks who can and do think at an appropriate level for their individual situation and are willing and able to behave themselves in ways fitting of their current situations, I am more than happy to show those around me every bit of courtesy and respect that I'm capable of.
However, when I find myself dealing with, for whatever reason, the sort of person or people who can't or won't do these things consistently or at all, I get frustrated quickly, perhaps moreso than I should. If I were to point out some of my biggest character flaws, that would certainly be on the list.
There are certain triggers that I'll leave alone, because I know I'm just as guilty as everyone else of doing things that annoy the hell out of others. I am, after all, no more or less human than anyone else. Certain other things, however, I feel I must address.
One of those things is what exactly constitutes acceptable workplace humor. When I'm coming at this, it's not from a standpoint of wanting some hard, inflexible line that can't be crossed under any circumstances. Hell, I can think of a few places where I'm practically famous for raunchy one-liners, and my job is one of those places. I'm not, nor can I be, against dirty jokes in the workplace.
With that in mind, I often find myself wondering where, exactly, the line is drawn. You see, I have, in the past, witnessed some acts of so-called humor while at work that some might consider wholly inappropriate for the workplace.
One particularly memorable scene for me was on a slow afternoon earlier this year when a male co-worker of mine approached another male co-worker, a supervisor no less, and began telling the supervisor, in a rather suggestive voice, about how the co-worker wanted to force the supervisor to sit on a hot stovetop for a period of time and then beat the injured area with a bundle of hot wires. Later on, I asked the supervisor what the whole scene had been about and was told that it was all just a joke.
What's worse is that the general manager was present at the time of the original incident and was giggling like it was, indeed, all just some kind of sick joke, to be brushed off and forgotten as if it were some passing comment about the weather.
If that were just an isolated thing, I'm not sure how I'd feel about it. Sadly, this is not just an isolated incident, as the co-worker in question seems to be not only allowed, but encouraged, to continue in behavior that seems, at least to my admittedly unenlightened mind, downright erotic while in the workplace. After all, to me, the man will routinely approach other men at work and, at least to me, engage in conversations that seem to be propositions for various sex acts. Keep in mind that this is happening while everyone is on the clock, on company time.
As I've said, I've engaged in the telling of a few inappropriate jokes while on the job myself. As a rule, though, I've tried to keep them as far away from where customers and clients could hear, and I've not made a habit of telling them every chance I get. Simply put, this is because I know I'd probably get in trouble if I didn't.
At the end of the day, it has very little to do with this fellow's orientation and/or mental status and situation. It's about why these things are being used to give him passes for doing things that would cause anybody else I can think of to get in trouble, possibly to the point of losing their job.
It's one of those moments when I just have to ask why, damn it, why?