Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Toad and the Shoe

In my creative writing, I often get asked "Where do you get your ideas?" Well, honestly, I just use real life; there are no stories more outrageous. This blog is a true story.

I have a dear friend in a terrible work situation. Her boss e'd her a naked picture of himself.
In Canada.
In this century.

In case you're wondering, the photo is an awful picture of a toad-like man, posed artfully behind a ship's wheel. It has been passed around with great hilarity. Unfortunately, it reflects a situation that is not as uncommon in Canada as one might think.

When I asked if she could go to HR, I found out they already had a copy! Seems jobs in this industry/province are scarce and folks are too scared to make a "big deal" about this. I have advised my friend to start looking for a new job ASAP. She has been actively searching. She also had strong words with her boss who promised to be better behaved.

Till she wore The Shoes and with A Pedicure.

She was sitting on a call in her office this week with her shoes kicked off. He wandered into her office, proceeded to stroke her foot and... as she leap from her chair in horror... he picked up a discarded shoe, stuck in his nose and breathed deeply.

I understand the entire company could hear her tear a strip off him. Having heard her tear strips before, I'm surprised I couldn't hear it all the way to my office too.

She's now embarrassed to go into work. He continues as a big cheese at the company. She feels shamed. Goodness knows what he feels but I bet he's sleeping soundly regardless.

Trying to see the lighter side of the situation, we chatted about such options as wearing gum boots to work or fuzzy slippers. We decided the poor shoes were ok to keep as we both love them (good shoes being hard to find) and we'd forgive them this one transgression.

But really I sit here enraged. While we understand the legal and ethical obligations of this situation and are working to solve it... It Should Not Happen. To Anyone. Anywhere.

The details of my friend's story are a reflection of all the stories I've heard this year. I know men are reading this posting and cringing - I know many men would never Dream of such evil and abuse of power. This is not about bad men/good women.

This is about Everyone being vigilant and speaking up when they see bad behaviour that subjugates others and compromises their ability in the community.

We need to keep dialogue going; we need to make sure folks understand the workplace is still not an equal place for all members; we need to support those who find themselves in compromised situations.

It's not happening to folks you don't know. It's not a fairy tale. Don't let the toad control the story.

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