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Get Your Brain Out Of The Binary

, , , , , , , | Working | May 23, 2022

Our manager retired recently, and a new manager was assigned to take her place. On his first day, he tries to meet with everyone, but it’s apparent that he’s doing so more to learn faces than to build connections, and he’s not putting in any effort to be friendly. Still, I decide to put up with him at first, knowing everyone else well enough to at least direct him when he’s looking for someone.

[Coworker], who is non-binary, is on holiday at this time (approved well in advance), which leads to this exchange when [Manager] goes looking for them.

Manager: “Hey, [My Name]. Where could I find [Coworker’s Full Name]?”

Me: “They’re on holiday today. Sorry, I should’ve mentioned—”

Manager: “They? It’s just the one.”

Me: “I know. They’re on holiday.”

Manager: “Who’s ‘they’?”

Me: “[Coworker].”

Manager: “Then don’t say ‘they’! Is it a him or a her?”

Me: “[Coworker] goes by ‘they’.”

Manager: “That’s not a valid answer.”

Me: “It’s not a valid question. [Coworker] goes by ‘they’. When you’re talking about [Coworker], you say, ‘They are on holiday,’ or, ‘They’ll be back tomorrow.’”

Manager: “Who the h*** are they?!”

Me: “[Coworker].”

[Manager] wrote me up for giving him attitude. I immediately informed his boss as to what was going on. By the time [Coworker] got back, we had another new manager.

Gay People Exist. Surprise?

, , , | Working | CREDIT: DrMDQ | May 13, 2022

I am traveling to rural [Southern State] for work, and I’m staying in a hotel. My husband needs to bring me some paperwork that I forgot halfway across the state. We are both men.

I go down to talk to the employee at the front desk.

Me: “Hi, I am leaving for work now. My husband is bringing me some paperwork, but I will not be here because I’ll be working. He will be here in about four hours. Can you please let him into room [number]? His name is [Husband] and he looks like [description].”

Employee: “Huh?”

I repeat my previous statement.

Employee: “Oh. So, your boss is coming with paperwork?”

Me: “No, my husband.”

Employee: “Oh, okay, did you mean your coworker?”

Me: “No, it’s my husband. The man I am married to. We are gay.”

Employee: “Okay, I’ll let your friend in when he gets here.”

I mean, I know it’s rural [Southern State], but have they never had a gay hotel guest? Am I crazy? Anyway, the rest of the hotel staff have been very lovely. I just found this both confusing and amusing.

Thanks For Making College Life Even Harder

, , , , , , | Learning | May 13, 2022

I’m employed by the housing service of a prestigious university, directing inbound students to the best options for their needs. One such student is a boy, who, due to not feeling confident in living entirely alone just yet, has decided to not live in a flat and instead to get a bed in the all-male dorms. I give him all the information needed to start the enrolment process and think nothing of it.

A few days later, I get a call.

Me: “Hallo, [University]’s Student Housing Services. How may I be of help?”

Boy: “Hello, it’s me, [Boy]. I called two weeks ago about getting a place in the dorm, but I’ve had a bit of a problem.”

Me: “What kind of problem? Anything serious?”

Boy: “Uh, yeah, the headmaster, or whatever he’s supposed to be, sat me down after the dorm tour and told me I wasn’t a very good fit for the dorm and that I should go look for a flat.”

Me: “That’s weird. Did he elaborate?”

Boy: “No, he didn’t say much else.”

Me: “Okay, then. Do you mind if I inform myself and then get in touch with you by the end of this week?”

Boy: “Sure.”

And so the call ends. I immediately call the dorm manager’s office, figuring that something REALLY major had come up to tell him he couldn’t get into the dorm. After getting transferred from the secretary, in a few minutes, I’m on the phone with him.

Dorm Manager: “Hallo, [Dorm]’s office, [Dorm Manager] speaking.”

Me: “Hallo, Mr. [Dorm Manager], I have been called by a student called [Boy] [Surname]. He says that, after touring the dorm’s facilities, he was told that he wasn’t allowed to take a room. He told me he has not been told the reason behind it. Is that true?”

Dorm Manager: “[Boy]? If she is what I think she is, that’s not her name.”

There’s a long beat, as I’m confused.

Me: “Come again?”

Dorm Manager: “She was not a boy but a girl. I don’t understand what she was trying to accomplish in trying to hide her breasts and pass herself as a boy to enter my dorm, but, regardless, she isn’t supposed to be here. She should go contact the girl student dorm.”

Me: “Huh? His voice sounded quite masculine to me.”

Dorm Manager: “The voice did, but I guarantee you she didn’t look like a boy in the slightest, neither in face nor in body. I am not going to let some kid’s girlfriend sneak in to live with them.”

Me: “I think I’m going to research this matter a little deeper. Something is not quite adding up here.”

And I hang up. While I’m not allowed to access any files that could be considered sensitive, I do notice that [Boy] sustained the admission exam to university under the name he gave me; if this was just somebody’s girl trying to get a free room with her boyfriend, she would have to be extremely committed.

A couple of days later, I decide to send an email to my boss about it and then call the boy back.

Me: “Hallo, [Boy], [University]’s Student Housing Services.”

Boy: “Hallo, any news?”

Me: “Yeah, I’ve called the dorm manager. He has told me you looked like a girl and rejected you on those grounds.”

Boy: “Uhhh… what? Can he even do that? Can’t I appeal that?”

Me: “I think you should give a call to my boss. I’m afraid I cannot help you with this directly.”

And I give him the number. A few hours later…

Boss: “Hallo, [My Name], do you remember [Boy]? [Surname], the one.”

Me: “Yes, I do. I gave him your office’s number.”

Boss: “I have seen his file and talked about it with him. He’s definitely a guy, no two ways about it. Strike out a spot from the dorm. I will deal with it myself.”

Me: “Okay, if you say so.”

And he hangs up. I receive no information about it for a long time until midway through the first semester of university when I receive a call from [Boy].

Boy: “Hello, it’s me, [Boy]. I’m sorry, and I know it’s quite a lot to ask, but would it be possible to find an apartment now?”

Me: “Hello, [Boy]. May I ask why you want to leave the dorm?”

Boy: “I… I don’t feel comfortable in there. The place is nice and all, but the dorm manager keeps calling me to his office and telling me I shouldn’t be here or that I don’t look like a guy or…”

At this point, silence falls.

Me: “Hello? Are you there?”

There’s a long beat, and then I hear some sniffling.

Boy: “Uh… yeah, I’m here. It just hurts to talk about. Can I get a place in another dorm or an apartment with other people, pretty please? I don’t want to be here anymore.”

Me: “I will see what I can do.”

I decide to get the other side of the story just in case.

Dorm Manager: “Hallo, [Dorm]’s office, [Dorm Manager] speaking.”

Me: “Hallo, Mr. [Dorm Manager]. A student has been complaining about your behaviour toward him. His name is [Boy] [Surname]. May I know what is going on exactly?”

Dorm Manager: “What is going on? She isn’t [Boy]. She literally is just some girl who decided to change her name and gender because she liked football. I don’t care how much she likes [Football Team] or how much she wants to lop off her breasts. She is not a man, and she will never be, and I am not going to keep a woman around my dorm just to please some dumb idiot who thinks he knows better than I do. She either gets out of my dorm on her own, or I will make her wish she had never bothered.”

It all finally clicks.

Me: “Oh, okay, I do finally understand. I will be sure to pass this around.”

Dorm Manager: “You’d better. Goodbye.”

Little does he know, I am not going to communicate that to the poor guy.

Me: “Hello, [Boss]. [Dorm Manager] is apparently harassing [Boy] [Surname].”

A deep sigh comes from the other side of the phone.

Boss: “Jesus Christ, [Dorm Manager] really is the dumb motherf***** I thought he was. You’d think he loves long talks with the rector. Fine, I’ll get to work once again.”

To make a long story short: my boss emailed the university’s rector, who in turn demanded that the dorm manager visit him, and apparently, he had quite the choice of words for him. They started arguing, and then the rector gave the dorm manager his walking papers, replacing him with his direct underling, who was much more diplomatic. The trans boy ultimately decided to stay in the dorm and has thanked me, though, really, he had to thank both the rector and my boss.

In Which Everyone Gets To Learn A Little Something

, , , , , , , , | Learning | May 3, 2022

As a first-grade teacher, I’ve been lucky enough to teach a number of great kids I have very fond memories of, but there is one child that sticks out as memorable even compared to all the other great kids. He was a sweet child with strong empathy and caring for his classmates, he rarely got in trouble, and while not my best student, he always did decently well in classwork.

I first became aware of one of his unique aspects early in the year when his mother “confessed” to me her confusion about what to do with her son. She was a single mother and had always struggled with money, meaning that her son had to settle for his older sister’s hand-me-downs for most of his young life. However, she had been proud that she had gotten a slightly better paying job recently and so could afford to take her son shopping for his own clothes to start his first year of school with.

The only problem was that her son didn’t like any of the options they looked at in the store and ended up hating everything they bought. In fact, he actually pled with his mother to go back to wearing his sister’s hand-me-down clothes. It seemed he liked the “girly” clothes, the pink and unicorns, and all the stuff you couldn’t find in the boys’ section of the local department store.

His mom didn’t know what to do about this. She worried that she had somehow damaged her son by making him wear girl clothes for his young childhood or that growing up in a house of girls without a male role model had prevented him from properly growing into a boy. I immediately assured her that neither of those things she mentioned was a problem or had harmed her son and that there was nothing wrong with her son having unusual preferences in clothes. I told her she should focus on being understanding when talking to her son about his preferences and finding a compromise that both were comfortable with rather than acting as if his not liking his “boy” clothes meant there was something wrong with him.

Since the mother seemed really concerned about her son’s lack of a male role model in his life, I also recommended that she look into signing him up as a “little” with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which our school had a close working relationship with. She did, and eventually, he was assigned a big brother, a young adult still in college. Though in this case, this was for in-school visits, the big brother would come to take my student every Wednesday during the lunch and recess hour and spend time with him, but they were supposed to limit the contact to school hours rather than the larger commitment of a traditional big brother relationship. The student’s big brother was great, very much loved by my student, and even popular with the other kids in the class due to his often organizing larger games for kids to play with him and his little brother during recess.

As the year went on, I noticed my student’s mother becoming more comfortable with supporting her son’s clothing choices. Originally, he would come to class wearing what I’d call gender-neutral clothing, but over time, I saw more and more examples of clothes that leaned more toward feminine.

This all came to a head when I got an email from his mom saying that her son had been pleading for permission to wear a dress to school, and she had finally relented and decided to allow him on the upcoming Monday. She was clearly worried about his being bullied, and I promised I’d do my best to keep an eye on him that Monday.

When he first walked into class, escorted there by his mother who had insisted on driving him to school that day just to ensure he was okay, he was clearly excited to be wearing his bright pink dress. I made a point to tell him I thought he looked great and he beamed up at me happily.

The other kids in the class had a number of questions about his choice of clothing, of course, and sometimes these questions were as insensitive as one would expect for children too young to understand tact. Many asked why he was wearing girl clothing. One kid even guessed he was being punished by his mom for something. However, for all their lack of tact, one great thing about kids that young is that they aren’t as committed to all the stereotypes that adults take for granted and are more open to new concepts. While many of the kids were confused about his dress, most didn’t seem angry or hostile over it.

Unfortunately, not all the students were as understanding and, despite my best efforts, he got a few mean comments about his clothes. By lunchtime, his enthusiasm about his dress had clearly waned a bit.

Just as I was wrapping up my lesson in preparation for lunchtime, I heard the familiar game of phone tag that came from kids near the door noticing my student’s Big Brother waiting outside and passing the word down the line to where the student sat. I was a little confused since this wasn’t the right day for his visit, but I still gave my student the usual wave to say he could go to his big brother. I hadn’t looked out the door, though, and so I was a little surprised when I heard my student’s excited exclamation that his big brother was wearing a dress.

Sure enough, the brother was indeed wearing a dress, one that was clearly too small for him and most likely hastily borrowed from a friend, but a dress nonetheless. He declared that he had heard that my student was going to be coming in with a dress and, “[Student] shouldn’t be the only one that gets to be pretty.”

During recess, the big brother also got many questions from my students about his dress. He answered only that he wore it because he liked to be pretty and challenged any students who implied there was something wrong with that to explain why he shouldn’t get to wear something that made him happy. By the end of recess, my student had rediscovered his earlier enthusiasm from the morning, and now, if challenged about his dress, he proudly declared that if his big brother liked wearing a dress, then there was nothing wrong with it.

From that day forward, the big brother usually wore a dress when he came in to get his little brother. He ended up getting two dresses which he clearly rotated between. He confessed to me in private that he actually disliked dresses, mostly complaining that his legs were always too cold, but if wearing a dress was what it took to make his little brother comfortable, then he would keep doing it.

My student didn’t always get to wear a dress. He told me his older sister didn’t often wear dresses, so he didn’t have many hand-me-down dresses to pick from; however, he always wore one on Wednesdays when his big brother came. And by the end of the year, the students all took it for granted that this one student wore dresses on occasion and treated him perfectly normally despite that fact. Years later, I’d still occasionally spot this student in the hallways of our school proudly wearing a dress while chatting with friends.

I’m sure some of you are wondering about his gender, and I promise all three of us (me, his mother, and his big brother) did ask him about it. He didn’t say he felt like a girl, but he also wasn’t willing to definitively say he was a boy, either. I don’t think he had fully figured out what he was yet. Our best guess was that he was a boy who simply preferred to wear dresses and pink things, though I wouldn’t be overly shocked if that changed as he grew older. I lost touch with his mom after he graduated from my class so I don’t know what he ultimately identified as, but I know that whatever it was, he had people in his life that loved him and would support him regardless.

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: After Dark

, , , , , , , , | Romantic Working | April 25, 2022

My manager’s manager is a fairly nice guy. He is bald, always wears argyle cardigans, and has a friendly attitude that earned him the nickname Mr. Rogers. He self-identifies as gay, though you wouldn’t know it if you didn’t see him attending a company meeting with his husband and didn’t notice the pictures of him and his husband that his office was bedecked with.

My coworker in my department self-identifies as a lesbian. She also self-identifies as a “riot grrrr” and dyes her hair bright colors. She’s very loud and proud about her identity as a lesbian, and her cubicle is equally bedecked with pictures of her wife, political cartoons about lesbianism and feminism, and office plants. I get along with her pretty well, though sometimes I have to tune her out when she gets upset and starts ranting while she works. I think it mostly she just rants to calm herself down.

Because I’m one of the few people who doesn’t get into arguments with [Coworker], my cubicle is near hers.

One day, I come into work, and [Coworker]’s cubicle is completely empty. I was expecting to work with her on a client together today, so I find this surprising — and upsetting as I need her portion of the work as well as mine.

I manage to reschedule the client so I can actually have time to either find or remake her work, and I go to management to ask what the heck happened.

“Mr. Rogers’” office is also completely sterile and empty. My manager’s title has been changed; he’s been promoted.

I ask him what happened.

It turns out that a janitor walked in on “’Mr. Rogers” performing a sex act on [Coworker] in the office after hours.

Normally, cheating on your spouse — even with a coworker — is not grounds for dismissal, but the fact that the sexual acts occurred on the premise was determined to be cause for immediate removal, as per the “morals” clause of our contracts.

According to my manager, both “Mr. Rogers” and [Coworker] maintained their innocence, insisting that it wasn’t cheating because they were doing it with someone of a different sex than their spouses.

Last I heard, they were both divorced and had found work again in different accounting firms. “Mr. Rogers” sent the whole office a letter when he was hired by his new place, and my coworker emailed me, though no one else. I guess I made an impression on her?