Have you ever been called out on non-PC things you have said in the office?

Isaiah_53_5's picture
Isaiah_53_5 - Certified Professional
Rank: Human | banana points 11,675

I'm pretty PC in most situations, by context. You know who to tread lightly around, in terms of words said.

Has someone ever called you out on being non-PC in the office?

I've only been called out once. That I can remember. I think I was about 6 weeks into my first job after college and was put on some odd project learning a skill I didn't want to learn and was thrown into this odd mix of people.

It was about 8-10 of us in this training group and all ages. 20s-50s really. So we are sitting at a large table doing a class and the presenter's computer sucks. Its taking forever to boot and get the projector going, so this guy starts telling this story about him converting his Mercedes (1980s) to be able to handle biodiesel or something. He said he drove from the Midwest to the East coast on this engine and to the meeting, in fact.

Then, for some reason, this guy gets up with his bag, leaves the room, and the presenter launches into a discussion and presentation lasting about 20 minutes. He keeps mentioning we have to remember this stuff in the presentation for some training module test or something and then asks if there are any questions. He almost began the next phase of the training and I said "aren't you going to wait until that dude gets back to keep going?."

The presenter looks at me and just gives me the deer in the headlights look. He said "are we missing someone?" I was like "yeah, that guy missed your whole first module." I wasn't trying to rat on the guy, but was looking out for him as this company was super lame about passing these learning modules. The teacher said "I don't think we are missing anyone." Then someone else said, "yeah everyone is here." We were sitting at a long table and filled all the seats and this guy was literally sitting in the middle of the long table and there was now an empty seat there.

First I thought I should drop it as I had no clue where these space cadets were sitting when this geek was launching into a pride filled discussion about his biodiesel engine, but this girl turned to me and said "what did he look like?" I'm thinking wtf is going on here. I tried to be light/not harsh and said "you know that big dude with the plaid shirt?" A couple other people at the table started giving me just straight up blank glances. I felt like I was on Mars. In the sense to accurately convey the attributes of the missing person and to be direct I finally said "the overweight white dude with the glasses."

Well, this was apparently wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much for this girl at the end of the table. She flipped out on me. She happened to be a very .. large woman. Everyone turned to her wide eyed and she just ripped me apart about being PC and respectful to others (when she said that I thought - how can you respect others when you don't even notice them in the room...), and all this other stuff about how hard people struggle in life to be where they are or something. No one stopped her. I was like shiiitt...

Then she stopped talking and I was just like "I'm sorry I didn't mean to offend anyone, was trying to describe this person." There was a group silence for 2 seconds that felt like 20 minutes and no shit, this dude walks right back in and sits down all gleefully and globbedy globbedy moving around, you know, you know... and then looks up and says "did I miss anything?"

Fucking shoot me, right.

He apologized for being away and said he took a call from his manager.

But, then I turn to think about different cultures and what it means to say the truth. When I was in China, every day my host mother would say "you have arrived home" and I was thinking like yeah that's obvious, for about a month. Eventually, I found out it was the custom that I had to say "I have arrived home" when she said it at the doorway. Some odd exchange of truth and being in the present along with a greeting.

Even seeing friends after you haven't seen them in a while in that culture brings similar expressions such as 'long time no see', but also other things like 'you're fat'. To see someone that has become fat and to say 'you're fat' over there seems more like a state that you have become rather than a negative expression about who you are in life and your value as a person, which it seems to bleed to in the US.

Also, I just told a room full of people that a person was there and they told me he was not and then he finally walks back in the room. Really, what were they thinking at that moment ...... training was a week or two and no one said a word about the discussion whatsoever after that. We just went back right into corporate drone mode ... for the good of management and the shareholders..... good 'ol F500 companies, God Bless 'em.

Comments (9)

Most Helpful
Aug 11, 2018

Have you guys ever heard people say non-PC stuff randomly on conference calls?

I can remember some really odd/hilarious times when I've just heard side comments and stuff. You know, when you're waiting for everyone to call in.

Some phone conference systems we used announced our name when we joined as well, so you know the audience and attendance. This one conference there were about five of us waiting on one person, an executive (high ranking dude) to join. I'd corresponded with these people a lot, but hadn't met everyone. All internal coworkers. Well, we had some issue in the financials of an old project that we had to fix and it was dragging on for a month or so. This lady Mary who was pretty high up in the corporation was on the phone. When someone asked how things were going with the financial knot and Mary said, well "I'm almost finished." The other guy said, "oh its all sorted out, so this will be a quick call." I hadn't heard we fixed it so I was somewhat upbeat... was thinking, go Mary! right .... then she says, "no, I'm about done. I'm going to walk over to my kitchen in a second and grab one of my knives. Then I'm going to slit both of my wrists and bleed out on the floor."

I was thinking damnnn what the fuck. I knew (well I was pretty sure) she was joking, but really. She didn't even laugh at the end and the other guy just said "wow." We sat in more silence for a few minutes and then the exec finally called into the conference call.

Another time I'm waiting on a call after just moving to NYC. I'm sitting in my apartment and this guy Dave that I had worked with for a year starts asking me about my new place and stuff. There were maybe 4 other people on the call, all managers. Dave was late 50s and distinguished veteran. I was good friends with him, but he would say some really off stuff sometimes. Well, he asked if I had roommates and I said that I just moved in with two french chicks. He started getting all riled up on the call and I'm just wondering when the conference is going to start - to cut off Dave. But, he keeps going. He talks about how I should treat this situation living with two french chicks and that the best thing for me to do would probably be to buy small hidden cameras and put them in the showers and their rooms and just ... then this other person on the call shouted out "DAAVEEEE!!!!" Then he started laughing and said, "c'mon guys, you know I'm just kidding ..."

anddd then conference call started

Just another day at the office.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 5
Aug 14, 2018

Somewhat on topic: an MD said something like "this is a complete fucking shit show" on an internal conference call. I thought I was on mute, so I muttered to myself completely innocently "Wow, that's some pretty bold language." Everyone goes silent. The guy asks, "Who was that?" I just freeze. My MD covers for me, defusing the situation, saying "Sounds like *****. He has sensitive ears." I give an awkward half apology. No harm, no foul.

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Aug 14, 2018

A couple more: I forget what he was saying but my MD was basically insulting the client when we were in his office on speakerphone, so I instinctively jumped to hit the mute button. He kept unmuting it and told me that he wanted the client to hear this. I was pretty embarrassed but I think he knew where I was coming from because his jabs at the client were pretty brutal.

Senior management at a client was commenting on our bank book and complaining about what we had laid out as the transaction rationale. They were complaining about a specific phrase I had included and how the bankers didn't know the industry. Well, lo and behold, a month later the deal was off because the target company didn't even operate in the vertical they thought it did. I didn't know that kind of thing could slip until that far in the process, but I felt a bit vindicated.

    • 1
Dec 6, 2018

I was once shat on because I called my friend boy on the bus. Learned afterwards that its a racist insult?

Dec 6, 2018

They allow me to make fat jokes as long as I kept delivering good performance and the office can make Asian jokes at my expense.

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Dec 6, 2018

That's how its supposed to be. If you can make jokes about people's appearance or anything innocuous, then you should be able to take them as well and not get upset.

Dec 6, 2018

My MD on an internal conference call said to the other director "Sorry I'm a little autistic and forgot to pay attention, can you repeat that?" Everyone just kinda went silent for a couple of seconds and the director repeated himself... muted myself and couldn't stop giggling.

Dec 6, 2018

The joke did not land lol. Did he become moody for the entire day? I saw one of my boss did that when his joke did not land with the founder of the company.

Dec 7, 2018