However, having a co-worker who's annoying doesn't automatically make the workplace hostile. Likewise, having a workplace where everybody appears to get along swimmingly isn't automatically a recipe for productivity and success.
I sincerely believe all of that, which is part of the reason I've been self-employed most of my adult life. If I were a character on The Office, I'd like to think I'd be Jim, but I'm afraid that others would see me as Andy. When you work by yourself, it's hard to have a hostile work environment, unless maybe you're Norman Bates.
One place that you absolutely can't have a hostile work environment is in a job where your or other people's lives are at stake. In such jobs, there is no margin for error, no time for nonsense. Just last week, we heard congressional testimony about Federal Aviation Administration inspectors whose jobs and families were threatened by supervisors who had become far too friendly with the airlines on which they were supposed to be keeping a close eye.
Closer to home, over the past couple of years, there have been murmurings about hostile work environments within parts of the Tucson Fire Department. In response, the department has tried to become proactive in dealing with similar situations. To be sure, a fire station is probably a pretty macho place, and most of us, deep down in that place we don't like to publicly acknowledge, aren't all that disappointed that it is.
Leaving women out of this (not out of nostalgia, but for the sake of argument), let's say you're trapped in a burning building. Which of these men (at the peak of his physical prowess) would you want attempting your rescue: Woody Strode, Woody Harrelson or Woody Allen?
The answer is obviously Woody Strode, who played pro football and was also John Wayne's homie in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Some might think that Woody Harrelson would be an OK choice, but he might stop to smoke the furniture. And Woody Allen would only be the correct answer if you were a 14-year-old Asian girl.
Anyway, after the TFD had the trouble, it was decided that a committee would be put together to help improve the workplace environment. The committee would be called BRIDGE, for Building Relationships Increasing Diversity Guiding Excellence. How depressing would it be if somebody actually got paid for making that up?
It reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer and Lisa are having a talk. It goes something like:
Homer: Did Frank Lloyd Wright have to deal with people like you?
Lisa: Actually, Frank Lloyd Wright endured a lot of harsh criticism.
Homer: I have no idea who Frank Lloyd Wright is.
Lisa: You just said his name a couple of seconds ago.
Homer: I was just puttin' words together.
Which brings us back to BRIDGE.
Anyway, they had an election recently to stock the commission. A couple of different people sent me copies of the ballot, which I found ... oh, let's go with "interesting."
On one side are the instructions on how to vote and whom to send the ballot. One sentence reads, "The interest shown of (sic) so many sisters and brothers in the BRIDGE program is appreciated." Besides interest being shown by, who says (or writes) "sisters and brothers," in that order? It's "brothers and sisters," unless you've got an agenda.
And before you say that constitutes subliminally sexist language, how would you refer to parents? That's right, "Mom and Dad," not the other way around. If the language were consistently slanted toward one gender, I could see the need for tinkering. But it's not, so I don't.
On the back, they have the categories of people from which the voter is to choose one of each. They have "Asian," "Black," "Hispanic," "LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender)," "White," "Female" and "Male." People weren't allowed to run in more than one category, which is good, because if Tiger Woods were gay (and, you know, a Tucson firefighter), he could be a committee unto himself.
Some of the categories have only one nominee each, and no one is nominated under "American Indian." Do you mean to tell me that there isn't one American Indian in the entire Tucson Fire Department?! Somebody needs to write an e-mail about that!
The really weird part is that after all of those categories, there's one more, called "Other." What could that possibly be?! One of my former basketball players came home from college and told me that in the diversity training that all incoming students must endure (I mean, receive), they were told that there are at least 83 different sexualities that have been identified. I had always thought that, for guys, there was gay, straight and (my category) straight with a real fondness for Hugh Grant movies.
I sure hope those BRIDGE committee meetings will be open to the public. That would tide me over until Rescue Me starts this summer.