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You Shouldn’t Sweat the Small Stuff

At the same time, I do suggest that you occasionally pause to soak up and savor the small moments of insanity and sickness that you’re afforded a ringside view of as a denizen of a 21st century, post-American corporatocracy.


My boss has reprimanded me more than once for calling him ‘dude’. This happens because the character of the conversations I have with my boss is always casual and jokey. So, I relax and my lips loosen, and – without thinking – I’m punctuating sentences with ‘dude’. The push back has never been overly forceful. My mini sin of slang is checked with an unsmiling declaration of “I’m you’re boss, Marlow. I’m not a dude“. Then, we just move on like it never happened.

The point is that my boss’ clear expectation of me as his employee is that I am to speak with a certain level of professionalism. Therefore, addressing my superiors using very informal words like ‘dude’ is an unacceptable violation of that expectation. OK. Fair enough, right?

Actually, no. It’s not the tiniest bit fair. The reason that this situation is not fair is because I share an office with a warm-hearted and big-mouthed black guy named Jamal. Jamal and I fill the same position in the company. Jamal is in the habit of calling everyone for whom he’s known for more that thirty minutes ‘dawg’ and ‘home slice’. He calls our boss ‘dawg’ and ‘home slice’ a lot. Like, probably almost every time he speaks to him. In person and on the phone. In front of our co-workers. In meetings. All the time. I’ve even seen him write it into emails.

Now, can you guess how many times Jamal has been reprimanded by our boss for this habitual dearth of professional decorum?

Well, if you’ve ever gone to school or worked an office job, then, you might be familiar with the cringy fact that the authority figures of the Western institutions of influence reflexively apply disparate standards of behavior to different people based solely on the race and gender of the individuals under their control. So, you may have already correctly guessed that my boss has reprimanded Jamal exactly zero times.

I would bet money that my boss isn’t even consciously aware of what he’s doing. Whatever. It’s defiantly unfair. If the situation escalates to anymore unjust limitations on my speech I’ll be ringing up HR. Until then, I will simply kickback and enjoy the circus.


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