Bad Advice On Acting Rude To Bigots And Racists
Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
By The Bad Advisor
“I recently called a friend to see whether her college-age daughter, ‘Tiffany,’ could baby-sit for my 1 1/2-year-old granddaughter from 6 to 8 p.m. on a Saturday so I could attend a reception at a local club. I didn’t hear back at first, but three days before the event, I finally talked with Tiffany, and she said that she would be available. We discussed exact times, and I asked what she would charge. She didn’t have a set rate but thought $10 per hour would be fine. Having not paid a baby sitter for many years (I’m a new grandmother), I said that I thought the rate should be $5 per hour but that I would check with my daughter to see what she pays. My daughter confirmed that the average rate today is between $10 and $15 an hour. Thus, I planned to pay the $10 per hour (and thought I would probably give a tip, too), but I did not have a chance to call the sitter back until the morning of the event.
Her mother answered the phone and said that other plans had come up for her daughter, and the mother had told her to go with the ‘other plans’ because I had not gotten back to her on the rate. I was hurt and in total shock, not only because our families are very good friends but also because I did not think that the rate was a deciding factor. My husband is in an assisted living facility, and I spend a great deal of time with him, which ties up most of my days, which they knew. The mother is forever telling me to take time off and have some time to myself, which I thought that I was doing.
My questions to you are: Who is wrong? Should I feel hurt? Was I wrong to not get back to her until the morning of the event about the rate? I was disappointed and hurt that the mother had not advised her daughter to call me, because she is forever saying that she tries to teach her children how to be responsible. I feel that I was let down and can no longer trust this family.”
—From “Heartbroken and Hurt Grandmother” via “Annie’s Mailbox,” Creators.com, 13 July 2017
Dear Heartbroken and Hurt Grandmother,
There’s so much going on here! First there’s this young woman’s bizarre prioritizing of her own social calendar over that of her mom’s friend, then there’s her reluctance to agree to work for literally any rate of pay, plus her failure to wait by the phone for your summons — not to mention the fact that the woman seemed so cavalier about your needs that she failed to telephone you multiple times to ask how she could be of service.
To answer your questions: This young woman is wrong, but more than that, her entire family is wrong and to be frank, everything you ever thought you knew about this clan is wrong. This woman’s behavior has exposed the depravity of every member of this detestable group, none of whom have a reliable bone in their genetically deceitful bodies. Should you feel hurt? Absolutely.
This woman’s behavior has exposed the depravity of every member of this detestable group.
This woman’s belief that you were not in need of her services was based on fragile evidence indeed. Incredibly, this Janus-faced schemer assumed that you were not interested in hiring her only because you dropped off the face of the earth following her request to receive a reasonable rate for work! The only logical conclusion is that her decision not to clear her schedule in perpetuity for the chance to make twenty dollars was a personal slight against you directly.
You did nothing wrong in calling this duplicitous harridan to engage her services mere hours in advance; she is the one who failed to make herself available at your beck and call despite the fact that she is the only babysitter on earth and you the only person in need of her services, and so the need for her immediate availability should have been obvious to all involved. Sadly, it was not, and you should take these scheduling shenanigans in the spirit they were shenanigan’d: as a direct personal slight against you, a reliable and dependable person.
“I don’t appreciate it when you call people ‘bigoted’ or ‘prejudiced.’
I expect more respectful language from you.”
— From “Upset” via “Ask Amy,” Washington Post, 24 June 2017
It is the height of disrespect to use words to describe things, and no apology can adequately repair the damage these terms cause to the delicate and important feelings of people who believe others are subhuman piles of garbage bones who should be oppressed and abused on both an interpersonal and systemic level because they failed to have the good sense to be born white, heterosexual, cisgender, English-speaking, able-bodied, male, and American, like all the strong and great members of a master race whose very existence is threatened by the use of adjectives.
“I work in a solo physician’s office — doctor and 12 employees. We have all worked for him a long time and our office is casual, informal, and friendly. We (the staff) are all friendly outside of work as well. The doctor is quite outgoing and friendly, and his wife is more reserved and quiet (though nice enough when you get to know her, but none of us know her very well).
The doctor had us (staff and spouses) over to a casual dinner at his home. During this dinner, I was in the dining room with the boss’s wife and several of my coworkers, including one I’ll call Jane, who is a young woman in her early 20s. The doctor was in the kitchen with the other half of the guests.
In the course of the conversation, the concept of online dating / Tinder came up. Several of us (including the boss’s wife) were curious — we’ve heard of Tinder, but we’re not in the dating scene — how does it work? So Jane pulled out her phone and demonstrated the app — what you see of someone’s profile, how you swipe, etc. As she swiped, she pulled up a young man who was of Chinese descent and said, ‘I’d never go out with him. He’s a f****** (racial slur).’
Boss’s wife instantly turned frosty and said firmly and directly, ‘I’m sorry, but that kind of language is completely unacceptable in my house. Completely. We don’t talk like that about people under my roof.’ Jane seemed kind of taken aback and mumbled what seemed to me a half-hearted apology. Boss’s wife then redirected the conversation to a different topic and we all followed suit, but she was noticeably chilly towards Jane the rest of the evening. Later on, boss’s wife said quietly to me, ‘It is a good thing I don’t work in the office, because Jane is not winning any points with me.’ I could tell she was still steamed.
I am quite sure that she told her husband, but knowing my boss, he’s not the kind to say anything to anybody. Boss’s wife has come into the office a few times (which is standard; sometimes she’ll pick up and drop off something for her husband) and she is always appropriately professionally cordial to all of us, but still a little cool to Jane. Nothing you could really call her on, but she greets Jane more perfunctorily and is a little warmer towards the rest of us.
Should I say something to the doctor that his wife is being cool to an employee (though to be honest, she has limited contact with us)? Should I urge the doctor to address the office generally about inappropriate racial slurs and remind the entire office that it’s not acceptable? Should I say something to the wife that I’ve noticed that she’s being cool? Should I say something to Jane that she might be well served by apologizing again to the wife for her inappropriate behavior? Or should I just keep my nose out of it?”
— Via “Ask A Manager,” 1 June 2017
With today’s “PC” culture, it can be so hard to know what action to take when someone is not being unfailingly kind to your local workplace racist in a manner that has absolutely nothing to do with you or your work whatsoever. Everybody makes mistakes, but sooner or later, the boss’s wife’s unfriendly treatment of this racist is going to catch up to her, and only you can save her from the inevitable consequences, such as continuing to not be super warm to this racist.
For the sake of everyone involved, let her know that you’ve picked up on the fact that she seems not to be enthusiastic about building a long-term friendship with her husband’s racist employee; that way she’ll know that you know that she is not 100000% wild about being extra nice to a racist. That’ll go a long way toward the boss’s opinion of you, his office’s lone protector of the fragile social standing of racists.