Braving the Boss
In celebration of women’s history month and in light of recent shootings I am thinking about brave women.
Specifically, I had to summon bravery when my coworker walked into the office with a gun.
I’ve been blessed to work with many colleagues and consider myself a well-rounded, open person. I’m happy in a corporate culture or a casual business environment.
But a boundary was crossed when I witnessed firearms in the workplace.
I have to believe that if I felt uncomfortable, others did too. An uncomfortable workforce is UNPRODUCTIVE.
The first time was when I had just started the job and my boss Bob* was going hunting. He was a prankster as was the culture of the firm. It was not unlikely to come back to your desk after being on vacation to find everything covered in saran wrap-even the phone. Really? Why? Is this a joke? Ha-ha.
Anyway, I looked up from my desk and saw Bob walking up behind one of my coworkers with his shotgun cocked. My cubemate of course jumped when he turned to see a man with a gun behind him.
Funny? Not to me. But I was new. The conduct was over the line and made me uneasy but I didn’t say anything because at the time I didn’t have the COURAGE to tell him or anyone.
And it surely wasn’t in the job description that employees would be subject to harassment, and must be “pro-gun.”
The final straw was one afternoon. I walked into Bob’s office and he had his 9mm out. I’m not sure what he was doing with it. He waved it at me and smiled as I told him I was headed out for the day.
I remember thinking that he was just playing with the piece like the other times. Not to worry.
I got in my car and as I drove home thought, “What the hell was going on here? This is NOT NORMAL behavior in an office. I have to say something.”
So the whole weekend I stressed about how I needed to mention it to him on Monday. For two days I worried about how I would approach the person who signs my paycheck to direct him how to behave like an ADULT in a work environment.
I sent an email saying I need to talk to about something.
He waited until the end of the day. We had a basketball goal outside our office so he suggested we shoot some hoops while we have our chat.
An admirable tactic to break the ice, but my style is to get straight to the point. I wanted no distractions but he’s the boss.
We walked to the court. He grabbed the orange leather ball and it clanged three times on the floor as he tried for a goal. Boing.
“So what’s up?” He asked and flogged the ball to me.
I had worn my new favorite stiletto pumps that day. My heart was pounding outside my chest, my face turned bright red, and feeling strong I bounced the ball and said,
“It makes me uncomfortable when you brandish a gun in the office.”
The ball went in the hoop.
“Okay, I am sorry, I won’t do that anymore,” he said.
And that was it. Well, not really but that’s for another time.
This story highlights a few things.
1. Stand up for what is right. If you are uncomfortable with someone’s behavior, chances are you are not alone. Speak up. You will feel better and be more productive.
2. The US needs better gun laws. Perhaps take a page from Britain’s playbook. We need federal regulations that state no guns in any workplace. The office (or school!) is no place for any firearm. Everyone has the right to work in a safe, comfortable environment.
3. People not knowing right from wrong. Educate and set a good example for children about what is appropriate.
4. It is possible to play basketball in heels.
Your happiness is the most important thing and your productivity depends on it. If something is on your mind, be brave enough to speak up and TRUST in whatever happens next, you just may score!