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Wish We Could Draw This Conversation To A Conclusion

, , , | Right | December 26, 2021

I’m an artist at a convention. To pass time and to attract customers, I do some live drawing while my partner handles customer contact if someone is interested or has questions.

Customer #1: “Wait… you drew this?”

Me: “Sure did!”

Customer #1: “But… you are fat.”

I am speechless.

Customer #1: “These are all normal people.”

Me: “Eh… yes. They are my characters.”

Customer #1: “But you are fat! Why do you draw skinny people? You should only draw what you know. This is false advertisement.”

At that moment, another customer walks by.

Customer #2: “Oh, wow! This is so pretty!”

Me: “Thank you!”

Customer #1: “Oh, don’t bother. She’s misrepresenting herself.” *Turns to me* “You’ll meet yourself one day and you’ll see I’m right. You should only draw what you know! You are stealing work from other people!”

Thankfully, the customer (or actually, non-customer) walks on.

Customer #2: “Does that mean I can’t draw gay furry art?”

Her comment made me burst out laughing. I needed a moment to compose myself, but [Customer #2] (and fellow artist) and I had a lovely conversation afterward.

You Gotta Keep Moving With The Times

, , , , , | Related | December 26, 2021

I’m sixteen in the early 1990s. My family and I are white, and when I start dating a black girl, my parents are having none of it. They argue with me while a movie review TV show plays in the background.

Mother: “We’re not being racist! Society simply doesn’t accept black and white people dating each other.”

Father: “If you get serious about this girl, you’re going to experience a lot of hatred from both races. You’re young and idealistic, but believe me, people are not going to approve of you two being together.”

And then, I have my one and only “Glitch in the Matrix” moment, when the TV reviewers start speaking on the same subject.

Reviewer #1: “Say, [Reviewer #2], there’ve been a lot of movies with interracial couples this year, haven’t there?”

Reviewer #2: “Oh, yes. Wayne’s World, The Bodyguard, White Men Can’t Jump… It’s not nearly as controversial a subject as it used to be.”

Reviewer #1: “Almost a non-issue anymore. People just don’t care.”

I grinned smugly.

Both those reviewers have since gone to the great movie house in the sky, but I still give them two thumbs up.

They Didn’t Engineer This Move Very Well

, , , , , | Working | December 20, 2021

I’ve always worked in engineering. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, it’s been tough, especially when I was new. But after several years in the company, I have more than proved myself capable, more so than many of my male or female coworkers.

During some office redecoration, I’m temporarily moved to the admin office. The women there seem friendly and are surprised to see a woman come from engineering — my nickname is unisex — and even more surprised that this is only a temporary move.

Woman: “You must prefer working like this, though? I mean, men are so aggressive and competitive.”

Me: “I mean, yes, they can be, but I’m pretty used to it. And, well, working with women can be pretty bad, too. In fact, I’ve had a few—”

Woman: *Not even listening to me* “You poor thing. They must treat you horribly.”

Me: “Err, no, not really. I mean, at the start, but I get along well with them.”

Woman: “Why don’t you transfer here? You would be far better to be with us.”

Me: “No, honestly, I love my job.”

Woman: *Patronisingly* “Of course, you do, dear, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.”

Me: “Sure, I guess. I’ll think about it.”

I have no intention to do so. The fact that she wouldn’t even listen to me makes me even more sure. Her attitude is just as bad as some of the guys’ when I first started.

It gets worse when she and another woman go behind my back and lie that I want to transfer to their office. After I explain again that I don’t, everyone stops talking to me.

I get catty remarks and people stop talking when I get near. I hate it. I am over the moon when the redecoration finishes early.

Coworker: “Oh, hey, didn’t expect to see you back so soon.”

Me: “Not a moment too soon. Whatever mean remarks I might have said about you or the guys, I didn’t mean it.”

Coworker: “That bad?”

Me: “Hey, at least when guys fall out, you insult each other and get over it. I can’t stand office politics and cliques. It’s like being back in school.”

A full year later, the office lot still won’t even look at me. It must be exhausting being that petty.

This Isn’t A Black-And-White Issue

, , , , , | Working | December 17, 2021

I’m going through a pack of case studies. They are used to demonstrate real events, in this case, and to teach what could occur if rules aren’t followed and the consequences. For this class, it is industrial health and safety laws and regulations.

I’ve picked a few that I feel give a broad and interesting selection of various recent issues. And really just out of courtesy, I let the training manager know what I’m using for the lesson plan.

Manager: “Oh, could we swap this one? It has some racial undertones.”

Me: “Does it? It’s just a factual report of an event. I don’t think race is mentioned.”

Manager: “Well, I mean, the circumstances seem to be adding to a racial stereotype.”

Me: “Does it? It’s fake names; I don’t see how it could—”

Manager: “I would just be more comfortable if you swapped it.”

Me: “Okay, fine. Not a problem. I will rewrite a few things. It will be fine.”

Manager: “I’m not happy with this one, either. Is this a typically Jewish name?”

Me: “I don’t really… No, I don’t think so.”

Manager: “I just feel we shouldn’t single anyone out.”

Me: “There is no malice here. These are factual criminal reports we received that already have fake names attached to them. These are pretty standard in the industry. I’ve never heard any concerns over these.”

Manager: “No, I understand, but we should be mindful of how we present ourselves.”

Me: “By only having white ‘sounding’ names in all of our training material?”

Manager: “I’m not going to answer that. Just change the packs.”

Completely dumbfounded, I changed the whole lesson plan. I couldn’t edit the existing ones as they came preprinted, and all the questions and activities were specifically aimed at looking at what laws were broken in the examples.

We are both mixed white ethnicity. There had been no complaints nor anything race-related recently. Still, today, I don’t understand who was supposed to be offended, or where the undertones were. I stopped sharing my lesson plans after that and never had another issue.

The Cables Of Racism Were Laid Long Ago

, , , | Right | December 16, 2021

It is years ago, and as a university student, I have a summer job installing cable for a cable TV company. More accurately, I am the one who goes around to bury the cable after the cable company has connected the cable to the house. Houses are going up so fast that the cable TV company can’t keep up with subscription demand. In most cases, they just run cables from the street to the house above their grass. They don’t have enough workers to bury the cables, so they promise residents that they will send workers out to bury them as soon as they can.

It sometimes takes six months for the workers to get there. You can imagine homeowners are not happy.

We work in crews of three; I’m with two Hispanic men. We ring the doorbell of a home and there’s no answer. We call the home. No answer. We don’t have a cell number, so we start to bury the cable just as we have done for other houses today.

We are halfway finished when a car pulls up and comes to a sudden stop. A woman gets out and starts yelling at the foreman. He speaks English, but she berates him and insinuates that he is an illegal alien. She keeps demanding that we leave, asking him:

Customer: “Do you understand me? Do you understand me?”

I walk over.

Me: “Ma’am. I understand you. What’s going on?”

Customer: “I want to speak to your boss!”

I point her back to the man she has been berating. She didn’t expect that.

I don’t ever remember seeing racism up close like that until now. I had no idea what Latino workers dealt with on a daily basis. I am disgusted by her behavior.

We explain who we are, show her the work order from the cable company, and explain that we are there to bury the cable. We ask her if she wouldn’t mind if we completed the job.

Customer: “Don’t you move. I’m calling the police.”

And she does. We call the cable company while she is on the phone.

We take a water break. A police officer shows up. I approach carefully and explain what we are doing, showing the work order. He looks at the work order and asks the woman if the address is correct. She rips it out of my hand and looks at it.

Customer: “Yes, that’s my address.”

Officer: “Would it be okay if they completed burying the cable?”

We explain that if it is a bad time, we can come back.

Just then, another vehicle comes flying up the road, the driver slamming on the brakes as he reaches the house. A man (her husband?) jumps out and immediately starts yelling. The officer de-escalates the situation, explaining that we are contractors from the cable company.

The man keeps giving us menacing looks, but eventually, he jumps back in his vehicle and speeds off.

The homeowner eventually agrees to “allow” us to finish the job.

Customer: “But I’m warning you! I’ll be watching you!”

And she does, from inside her air-conditioned house. We see her looking out the window. The police officer leaves and my coworkers go back to work. They remain polite and professional.

We have to go through the flower bed. This is before smartphones, or we would have taken pictures before starting. We carefully dig up just enough space to bury the cable, and we replace all the wood chips. We are actually proud of our work.

The rep from the cable company shows up. The homeowner comes out and shows the rep:

Customer: “Look where they’ve done irreparable damage to my lawn and destroyed my flower bed!”

The rep takes a look and comments:

Rep: “They’ve actually pulled some weeds in the process of going through the flowers.”

She just keeps getting angrier and demands a discount on her cable service. The cable company rep is ready for this. He points to the contract with the cable company that said they would send out a contractor to bury the cable. He is polite but firm. There is no promise of when the cable company will send a contractor to bury the cable. He explains that with the housing boom and record subscriptions, they have not had time to bury cables. Most of her neighbors have their cables above ground, too.

We finish and the cable company rep asks if there was anything else he can do while he’s here.

Customer: “Just get them off my property.”

He waited for us to collect our tools and apologized for the behavior of the homeowner. Normally, people were happy to see us. They were tired of mowing their lawns while dodging the big cable running from the street to their house.

The rest of the day, we were offered drinks and treats when we visited other homes. This made the other customer look even worse. She made me glad I finished my education. I don’t have to deal with people like that in my job, and it reaffirmed my belief that everyone should be treated with respect, no matter how they dress for work. But the people who work with their hands in the hot sun so that I can sit in my air-conditioned home watching TV deserve a little extra respect.