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ABOUT ME

About me: I'm 42 and added another gherkin to our pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our 9-year-old Junior, our 6-year-old Everett, our toddler and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). When I'm not busy working as a graphic designer, I lie in a ball in the corner.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Hey, Bill, must be sexy in here..." Snort, snort


It’s been pretty warm here in Connecticut. I’d thought I’d dress in light clothes for work today, seeing how it’s spring and all, but management decided to blast us with arctic air. Have you ever been so cold at work that your knuckles turn white? I covered myself in paper fresh off the copier just to keep my limbs warm.

I didn’t realize quite how cold I was until I went upstairs to the mailroom and one of the younger workers said, “Must be cold in here.” I looked down and realized my headlights were pointing straight at him. I might have well have had tassels on them.

But that’s the chance you take when you wear a white sweater without a padded bra when it’s -50 degrees, right? So I smiled and said—with all the bravado I could muster—“Indeed!” (Nothing says “Don’t fuck with me” like erect nipples and a chipper, can-do attitude.)

I was annoyed, but willing to let it go. Then, after lunch, the HR head called me down to her office. It turns out one of my co-workers overheard the comment and reported it on my behalf. The mailroom offender had been reprimanded and would have to attend a sexual harassment workshop. Even worse, HR wouldn’t tell me who filed the complaint for me.

I was livid. Who had nominated themselves as the nipple police? I was about to start lighting things on fire when co-worker Michelle stopped by. Michelle is the kind of person who, after having two children, started shitting sunshine. Life is one long Barney episode for her. She gave me a sheepish shoulder shrug and asked if I was mad.

I should have known.

Before I could say anything, she said, “I had to say something to HR! It’s not appropriate to make comments about people’s genitals.”

After I got over the shock of hearing Michelle say “genitals” I diplomatically let her have it. I told her that breasts aren’t genitals. I said that I’m a big girl and that I don’t need people filing sexual harassment reports on my behalf. The mailroom people can ruin you. Packages can disappear or be sent late. You always bow to the mailroom people. Dammit, Michelle!

“But you wouldn’t say anything about anyone’s penis, would you?” she asked.

She had a point, but besides the whole banana-in-your-pocket line, what is there—really—to say about a co-worker’s penis? We don’t have many office flashers. And it’s not like I’d notice if someone’s baloney pony were affected by changes in temperature. Unless it was 50 feet long in 75 degree weather and 2 inches in cold. As far as I know, the turtle effect isn’t easily detectable in dress pants.

Agh!

I took a deep breath and thanked her. Then I asked her to please stay out of my business. “Okay?” I asked.

She nodded no. “I did what was right. Sorry.”

I have mixed feelings about the situation. On the one hand, I admire her for sticking to her guns. On the other, this isn’t a playground and I don’t need her to intervene on my behalf. They're my headlights, ergo it's my business. Isn't it up to me to decide whether or not I perceive something as harassment?

29 comments:

VandyJ said...

She should have minded her own business. His comment was not that invasive. You can stick up for yourself. You're a big girl last I checked.

Frogs in my formula said...

I AM big. I'll get my revenge somehow...

tootertotz said...

Clearly, the only reasonable solution is to march back into the mailroom on the next chilly office day and flash the aforementioned mailroom guy. And don't just flash him...shake the girls at him. Then thank him for noticing as you glance down at his male business.

Turnabout is fair play...plus, then he won't screw with your packages. He'll respect your moxie and nice boobs!

Jenni said...

She needs to mind her own business. Yeah, what he said was not appropriate for the workplace but it's up to you to decide how you want to handle it.

Also, I think I would have DIED if I ever heard one of my co-workers use the word genitals.

Frogs in my formula said...

Tootertotz, you are brilliant. I'll try that tomorrow.

Keely said...

Whether she did what was "right" or not, she deserves to be punched in the throat for thinking nipples are genitalia.

blognut said...

It is most definitely up to you to decide whether or not you perceive something as harassment. If your co-worker was so offended by it, she should have told HR that the mail room guy made an inappropriate comment to someone else, that she overheard it, and that it offended her. She could have left your name out of it entirely and filed the complaint on her own behalf and HR would still have had to act on it.

Also? I buy those nipple covers at Victoria's Secret because if I didn't, mine would be sticking out year 'round. Our offices are maintained at a brisk -12F through every season. :)

FoN said...

If you were some shrinking violet type who is 20-nothing years old and scared all time at work, I could appreciate her stepping in on your behalf. But....I get the feeling that's probably not a description many people would use to describe you. She should worry about her own nipples and tell HR to turn on flippin' heat.

SLColman said...

Hopefully her out of line intervention doesn't effect your packages!

Pricilla said...

I agree, she should have minded her business. If she was offended that is her problem. If you weren't everything was fine.

She obviously needs an anatomy lesson and I feel VERY sorry for kids when they get to sex ed in school.

Stacie said...

Wow, I'm not even sure what to say. There is so much wrong with this.

First, what the hell is wrong with Bill? I can't believe he would think this was okay to say to you (or anyone). What an ass. Creepy too.

Second, it's not like you're in 2nd grade and are too afraid to say anything yourself so you have your friend do it for you.

Keep those headlights guarded in temperatures like that; otherwise, Bill will be hot on your trail.

Grace said...

That comment is sexual harassment? Jeeze, boy have times changed - everybody just a teeny tiny overly sensitive?

Why back in my day...

MaryBT said...

It isn't sexual harrassment anyway. It was a rude comment. Sexual harrassment comes from someone who has the ability to affect your salary, raise, promotion, etc. The mail guy shouldn't have said it but it wasn't worth reporting him for either. Certainly not by a third party.

Yes, I have been that cold. I have a co-worker who lifts weights 2 hours a day and takes fat burner muscle ripper pills so he sits in his office and sweats all year long. Swear - it was 13 degrees out in December and he TURNED THE DAMN FURNACE OFF!!!

marybt.wordpress.com

Alison said...

Yeah not sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is when you find out you are pregnant and go tell your boss at BK that you will be needing a bigger shirt soon. And he tells me "Why your boobs are going to get bigger." (They are big already)... ahhaha NO.. well actually they would but not for that reason.

Tell her to mind her own beeswax. Well you did but that is just crazy!

Jamie said...

Sigh. Why are people so freaking sensitive? Talk about no sense of humor. I agree that if she was offended she needed to file the complaint in HER name. It is up to you to decide what offends you.

Buggys said...

Good grief! I agree, this was not sexual harassment. It was a stupid, ill-advised comment. End of story. Maybe Michelle needs to back to school and grow up a little.
I might go braless at home but there will always be a padded bra on me in the workplace. *sigh* It is what it is.

Mama Badger said...

ick. to the whole thing.

Technically, it's harassment even if she's the one who feels harassed by the comment. if "bill" is creating a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment by making comments to you, she can file a complaint.

Is she a dumbass? Yup. This is what happens when women give up their brains to Barney. They become so sensitive that they lose all common sense.

tarheelrambler said...

Can't say that the mail-room guy is the brightest bulb in the pack, but he's a floodlight compared to the "nipple police". Some people are just too willing to find offense at everything that goes on around them.

Most of all, I would have been upset with HR. But it's asking too much for management types to use common sense. The comment "it must be cold in here" in and of itself is not offensive. I would have thought they would have checked things out with you and told Ms. Nosy-pants that there's no basis for a complaint since she wasn't directly involved.

HoodChick said...

This cracked me up. Have a new guy at work that is always making comments about whatever hair 'style' i wear for the day. Curly, straighted, fuck it frizzy, he says or IM's me something. Maybe I need someone to intervene on my behalf since I can't figure out if he's screwing with me or is just a creep...

Kathy said...

She should have asked you if it was OK to report to the nipple police. I know what you mean about the mailroom. It's the lifeblood of the building.

Um, genitals? She needs an anatomy lesson.

Mad Woman said...

She needs to keep her mouth shut and her nose out of things.

Did you talk to the guy who made the comment and let him know it wasn't you who made the comment?

Mrsbear said...

I've got no advice, I'm trying to subdue my giggling so the kids don't wake up and ask me for stuff. Bwahaha. She thinks nipples are genitals and she shits sunshine? Clearly she needs to be kicked in the shins. Use your pointiest shoes.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

That Michelle needs to just get see how it is when the shoe is on the other foot. You should ask her if, the next time she says something insensitive to her kids, you should call Child Protective Services. After all, you could tell her, "I just did what was right. Sorry."

I think the REAL solution would be that if she thinks something is offensive, she needs to test the waters with you first. If you feel offended and don't mind her reporting it, then maybe it's okay. But if you say no then she should mind her own business. I know some women are meek and afraid to stand up for themselves. Clearly she doesn't know you very well if she thinks that description matches you.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

I think that was a bit ballsy on her part. Oh crap. I hope your co-worker doesn't read this...she might turn me in for sexual harassment after using the term "ballsy."

Catootes said...

Nipple police! I suggest a new name plackard outside her cubicle or office.
It's really none of her business and she should have come to you first.
Hey, for all she knew you might have been flashing the mailroom guy regularly and this was part of your office *ahem* tit for tat.

The Mother said...

While I will defend a woman's right to work without sexual harassment to my deathbed, I do think it's my right to decide whether a comment directed toward me is harassment or an innocent, friendly statement.

I agree with you--it's your call, not someone else's. Guys may be more comfortable with you than others, knowing your personality and temperment; it's not fair that we change the rules on them regularly.

Marinka said...

I'm so excited that she thinks that breasts are genitals!

Sara said...

Catching up on my blogs! I have the headlight problem too. It is difficult to stand there and argue with my boss with them blaring. Then again he has a bad habit of "adjusting" himself whenever. That aggravates me.

Anyway, my story is my coworker (who reports to me) had some sexual remarks made about her in my hearing. She didn't hear them. I didn't report it, because you are right, at the end of the day it is up to the person the remark(s) are said to for them to report or not.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

'baloney pony' hahahhahahaha!!!