I didn't get a decent inauguration day

Jan 20, 2009

And not just because i was at work, but because a racist ruined it. The TV in the breakroom tuned to CNN to allow people to watch the inauguration during their approved breaks and lunches. At around 9:30 I was in there alone with Lauren and just finishing getting my coffee. It was motorcade and nothing really going on about the inauguration. Jamie (not her real name) from Medical Records came in and made a deeply disgruntled noise, obviously in reference to the proceedings on the TV.

I said "well, even if you don't like him, it *IS* an historic occasion. I mean we’ve elected a black man."

"No! She immediately started raising her voice. "Why all this stuff about him being black? He's only half-black and people want to make a big deal of it! It's NOT historic! He's a man. Just a man and people are saying what a historic thing."

I said "Well, what if Hillary had been elected?" That would be an historic occasion too." I didn’t speak angrily or as loudly as Janeen, but was only trying to perhaps soothe whatever was really bothering her. “I mean Hillary isn’t a man first unless she’s transgendered or something,” Trying to make a joke of it to diffuse the tension. Lauren responded but Janeen clearly did not hear it.

At this point William, who is black, walked in and she pointedly asked him, "William!" she said. “Are you black or are you a man?"

William, getting something out of the refrigerator did not answer that I can remember (Though if he did it was a soft answer) because Janeen began getting very agitated. “My ancestors are Irish and it’s not historic if an Irish person gets elected to president!”

“Well, Kennedy…” I began, but decided it was best to leave the break room even with a silent Lauren and William there. Outside in the hallway were two people who were not entering the breakroom because of the rukus Janeen was creating. I did not say anything in leaving; I wanted nothing to further anger her.

I beat feet out of there and got back to my office where Stephanie made a face of oh-my-god and said "I don't wanna know... i just don't wanna know." And i don't blame her. It was weird.

Turns out Janeen went to her office and slammed the door. A co-worker of hers asked her if anything was wrong and Janeen went back to being ballistic and laid into her using the 'bitch' word.

Well, it turns out that the whole thing found the ear of the CEO and he asked my boss if he, my boss and i could come to his office for some after-spin. Asking me about what i thought my idea of historic was.

What? What-what?

When George W took (i'm sorry 'won') his second term, i had to hear the jibes and arrogance of medical conservatives poking fun at me for my position. And i didn't go all ballistic on anyone though i was, i'm sure, just as angry as Janeen about the outcome. But behaving civilly at work was the order of the day. I didn't even hate the conservatives, i just couldn't believe the nation as a whole was that stupid. Still, i kept up the smile of resignation that i had to.

Anyway, she just bitched herself out of a job. So she will remember the resignation as the day she got fired. Or quit. Or whatever. But anyway, it so upset me that i really didn't feel like watching the inauguration in the break room. I felt like i somehow inadvertently initiated the loss of someone's job, and during these hard times - even if she deserved it - even if something else was eating at her - it can only make her less satisfied with her life.

Luckily, Susan had a great inauguration party with Kyle, Jen, and Charles back from the land of the Kiwi and Helen and i ate delicioius food and sang "Barack Obama" and other songs.

It's better now.


Ok - WOW. I have a personal view and, of course, an HR view. You may not care about either.

Anyway, you aren't to blame. You did the right thing by keeping your cool - and even I, while reading your story, thought of "well what about Kennedy" - so we are on the same track (shocking).

The biggest point I want to make is - please don't let the bad taste stay with you. It is a signficant day for significant reasons. Any new president is signficant and this one is layered in hope.

I hope your keep yours.

(Of course, I have questions if you want to talk about it with me.)

xx oo

Chrisi said...
January 20, 2009 at 9:44 PM  

Sorry that difficult situation ruined your inauguration day. I think you are fortunate to work someplace where that kind of outburst is not tolerated. I still remember leaving a job and taking my skills and dedication elsewhere because the prejudice against everybody who wasn't a white heterosexual male was part of the culture there.

Edward said...
January 25, 2009 at 4:06 PM  

How do we encourage Zen to post more?

J Shura said...
February 13, 2009 at 7:17 PM  

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