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We’re Just Guessing, But You’re Not From Glasgow, Are You?

, , , , , , | Working | August 22, 2022

Twenty-odd years ago, I was propping up the bar in a pub on a side street in Brighton, England. I got into a conversation with this other bloke, in his sixties or seventies, I reckon. Although was a local, he had a strong Glasgow accent, so I sometimes had difficulty understanding him.

I wondered how he’d ended up in Brighton — work, family, retirement, whatever.

Me: “So, how’d you end up living in Brighton?”

Bloke: *Very quietly* “The guessing.”

I couldn’t fathom what “the guessing” could mean, and he’d said it very quietly and in Weegie (Glaswegian).

Me: “Sorry, the what? The… guessing?”

Bloke: *Still very quietly* “No, the guessing.”

Me: “Sorry, still not getting it. I can’t always hear things right—”

Bloke: *Loudly and clearly* “THE. GAY. SCENE!”

Okay, perhaps he hadn’t wanted to out himself in this particular pub, but even twenty-odd years ago, people didn’t really have a problem with this, especially in Brighton, which has been known for its gay community for at least half a century, I think.

They Hear “Asexual” And Conveniently Ignore Several Syllables

, , , , , , , , | Working | August 17, 2022

I work for a company that contracts me with other companies. Several years ago, I was subcontracted onto a contract I wasn’t enjoying as much, but I was trying to make the most of it since it would look bad on my company to switch contracts so soon after I’d started working on one.

I sat next to a woman who I originally hit it off well with and often joked around with. Then, one day, suddenly, [Coworker] seemed to be trying to misinterpret every joke I made in the worst possible light. I was confused about what had happened but stopped trying to joke with her. That wasn’t enough, though; over the course of two weeks, she seemed to escalate to taking even the most innocent comment wrong until I was afraid to even speak to, or around, her.

Eventually, I learned indirectly from another coworker that [Coworker] had been telling others that she had learned about some volunteering I was involved in. This wasn’t hard since I had clearly discussed it on my blog and a few other places online; it’s likely the first thing you would learn if you Googled my name.

My volunteering was… unusual, and I don’t want to go into the complexity of describing it right now. Suffice to say it involved working with many LGBT folks, and while I stress that it was not at all sexual, the way it was described to this coworker made it clear that [Coworker] had leaped to a number of false conclusions after learning only part of what I did. It had caused [Coworker] to assume some crazy sexual element that just wasn’t there.

Wanting to try to solve the difficulty between us, which was making it hard to get work done, I foolishly tried to catch [Coworker] to correct her misconceptions and hopefully get us to something like a working relationship again. That… did not go well. She got furious at me for even asking her if she had been to my blog or reading about me. When I told her I had heard she apparently had a misunderstanding of some of my work that may be leading to a miscommunication, she pretty much yelled at me to stop talking and leave her alone.

I went back to my desk, but a few hours later, I had someone come up to me and tell me to pack my stuff up because I was being escorted out of the building. The only other thing they would tell me was to talk to my Human Resources person tomorrow.

The next day when I went in, the HR woman told me that [Coworker] had made a complaint against me and the other contract had decided to remove me. She seemed to want to move on without discussing the accusation at all, but when I pushed, she finally told me I was accused of trying to get [Cowoker] to date me. When she turned me down, I had supposedly propositioned her for casual sex, along with some other even more explicit claims I won’t repeat here.

Me: “But… that’s not possible.”

HR Woman: “I understand that you may not have meant to offend her, and there may be some miscommunication; this sort of thing happens. But—”

Me: “No, you don’t understand. That’s literally impossible. There couldn’t have been a simple miscommunication. I am certain nothing like that has happened.”

HR Woman: “It’s common for one person to try to flirt—”

Me: “No, you don’t understand. I’m aromantic and asexual.”

HR Woman: “So, you were trying to be romantic and she took offense?”

Me: “Huh? That’s the opposite… Oh, no, I’m not saying I am a romantic. I’m aromantic — one word. It means I don’t date anyone, and I’m asexual, so I don’t want to have sex with anyone, either. I literally have never in my life asked — or wanted to ask — anyone out on a date, much less to just have casual sex with me. That’s the exact opposite of what I would want! Did she have any witnesses to any of this stuff she claims?!”

HR Woman: “They didn’t tell us that much detail, only that they wanted to have you removed from the contract.”

The HR woman went on to stress that, given my excellent record with the company and the fact that they had never seen any hint of my harassing anyone before, they weren’t going to hold things against me and they would find me another contract. She also stressed over and over that I shouldn’t try to contact [Coworker] or anyone at the old contract or otherwise confront anyone, which I had no intention of doing.

Still, I couldn’t help but express my frustration that I was being punished because someone else decided to leap to conclusions and get offended about what I did when volunteering without anything close to the full facts. It was a he-said-she-said situation, except I had clear, documented evidence that I was aro-ace and that she had been spreading false and malicious rumors about my volunteering to coworkers, and I knew she couldn’t have any evidence I said any of the crazy things she claimed.

The HR woman was very sympathetic, telling me she did think it was a misunderstanding since she knew me well enough to not believe the claims, but she also said that there was nothing I could do that wouldn’t just make things worse, so we had to just focus on finding a new contract for me. She did surprise me by asking for links to my blogs and Facebook where I told her I’d clearly documented my orientation long before I’d started this contract.

A week later, I got some interesting news. It seems my CEO — it’s a very small company, so the CEO being involved isn’t as strange as it may seem — had spoken to some important person at the other company and explained that I had a clearly documented history of being aro-ace and wouldn’t do the things I was accused of and that I had accused her of having a grudge due to my volunteering. The intention was only to prevent my being fired from the contract from reflecting negatively on our company by letting the people who make contracting decisions know the misunderstanding likely was not my fault.

However, somehow, that information must have trickled down from there to the actual people in charge of the contract, and someone at that company had asked [Coworker] for more details. It seems she assumed I was “propositioning her for sex” when I had tried to bring up my volunteering to inform her that she had completely misunderstood it, but there were witnesses to that exchange that clearly stated they didn’t hear anything remotely sexual about it. When asked how I had asked her out, she cited examples of things that everyone seemed to agree were nothing more than normal, polite conversations without any romantic subtext. Most damning of all, she admitted to “exaggerating” some of the other, more explicit things she’d claimed I had said to help back up her accusation, which is a polite way of saying she made that stuff up.

The contract I had been on ended up firing her for making false accusations and offering to take me back on. I’d never liked that contract anyway, so I instead used the whole situation as an excuse to get out of the contract early and move on to one I enjoyed far more. When I started my new contract and checked my work email, I had gotten a number of apology messages — some rather generic but others quite sincere — from people at the other contract and its parent company.

For me, personally, the whole situation sort of worked out in my favor. I got what amounted to a short paid vacation while I was “on the bench” between contracts and then ended up getting to switch to a better contract.

Still, the thing that angers me the most was that there are plenty of very real cases of women being harassed in the workplace that are all too often swept under the rug, just like my own company seemed ready to ignore the accusation against me before I’d even explained I was ace. It’s the rare false accusation, such as the one made against me, that is latched onto and used as ammunition for dismissing real abuse. I hate that I, however indirectly, was part of a situation that someone will one day use as an excuse to ignore real abuse.

Please don’t let my rare strange situation cause you to completely ignore any future accusations you may hear.

There’s Hope For The Future AND The Past!

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | August 10, 2022

This happened shortly after I moved into a new apartment building three years ago. The landlady and owner of the building lived right next to my apartment on the first floor. She was a very nice old lady, and we would often sit out on our shared little patio and talk from time to time. She even told me I reminded her of her granddaughter one day.

After I’d lived there for about six months, she approached me one night while I was sitting outside.

Landlady: “So, who is that man that I’ve been seeing come over?” 

Me: “Oh, that’s my friend, [Friend]. We have been friends for a while now.”

Landlady: “Ohhh… When are you going to go steady?”

Being a young person, I assumed she meant dating.

Me: “Oh, we aren’t dating. He’s just my friend.”

After making some food for the two of us and coming back out, she said to me:

Landlady: “You know, you are a very social person. You always have so many girlfriends over. I see all these different girls come over. You must be very popular.”

I was hesitant about telling her this information because I wasn’t sure how she would react. I tried to word everything in the best way possible, but I was freaking out inside. Not only was she my landlord, in charge of whether or not I lived there, but I had grown quite close to her in those past six months and I didn’t want to feel judged. Old ladies tended to have old-fashioned viewpoints. But I took a breath and said:

Me: “Um… Actually, I am interested in women and those women were my partners.”

Despite my held breath, she only looked shocked for a brief second before replying. 

Landlady: “Oh, well, that’s okay, honey. I used to sleep around a lot, too, when I was your age. You will find a nice lady to settle down with someday.”

I was completely worried about the wrong thing. She moved right past the fact that I’m a lesbian to the fact that I had been sleeping around. She proved to me that older people aren’t always stuck in their ways, and I see the older generation differently now.

Oh, So Worth It, Part 2

, , , , | Right | July 20, 2022

Customer: *Tossing a receipt at me* “You overcharged me, you stupid b****!”

Me: “You asked for the chicken combo with cajun fries?”

Customer: “Yeah! And I was overcharged twenty-five cents, you stupid b****!”

Me: “Please stop swearing, ma’am. The cajun fries are a twenty-five-cent upcharge from the regular combo.”

Customer: “That’s stupid! I want my money back!”

Me: “If you can give back the cajun fries, I can replace them with regular.”

Customer: “Stuck up [trans slur] b****!”

I am not trans, but I present as androgynous, and this has crossed a line for me as well as decent society. I take a quarter from the register and toss it on the floor.

Me: “Here, take your money and go. You don’t deserve any more of my time.”

Customer: “I will call corporate and get you fired!”

Me: “And it still would have been worth it. Next customer, please!”

I was not fired.

Oh, So Worth It

Asexuality Is Valid. End Of Story.

, , , , , , , , | Related | July 16, 2022

I came out as asexual to my family. My siblings were fine with it, my mother was iffy, and my stepfather point-blank refused to believe asexuality was a thing besides in plants. It just didn’t exist to him. It was a hassle to get him to think otherwise.

Stepfather: “The dictionary said asexual is when a plant reproduces with itself. It’s not a sexuality or whatever. It’s with plants.”

Me: “That’s one definition, [Stepfather]. It’s also when someone has no interest in sex or sexual relationships. “

Stepfather: “If it’s not in the dictionary, it’s not true. It’s for plants.”

Me: “Fine, I’ll look it up.”

Stepfather: “I’m not talking about that Urban Dictionary s***. A real dictionary.”

I look it up.

Me: “HA! Webster’s Dictionary. ‘Asexual: not having sexual feelings toward others; not experiencing sexual desire or attraction.’ In the dictionary!”

My stepfather took my phone and read the definition, mumbled some inaudible nonsense, shoved the phone back into my hand, and stormed off without a word.

Both parents, who did their best/worst to keep me away from boys and sex, now regularly pull the “You haven’t found the right guy; once you do, you’ll love it” card. Gross. No, thanks.