I’m somewhat tough. If we were in a bar, and you picked out twenty random guys and told me to fight them one by one, odds are, between what I’ve been trained in over the years and my physical ability, I’d be able to take care of nineteen of them pretty easily. Just nineteen, though, because I’ve been around long enough to know there’s always that one guy. I’d still, all these years later, be pretty solid with that first nineteen, though.
My problem is that I still look like a guy who can fight. I’m not that little nerdy guy in the corner who’ll surprise you with his super-secret ninja shit. That’s not me. I’m not sneaking up on anyone. I think people fuck with me less for that reason, but it works against me in other ways.
When you’re bigger than most, and you have a face with a default mode that makes you look pissed off, you’ll come across people who’ll be afraid of you for no reason. This happened to me at my last job. I had an issue with another guy there. I thought he sucked at his job—he was lazy, argumentative, came in late every day, and lacked sufficient talent to justify his continued employment—and recommended that he be fired because he was creating too much extra work for me. Since, thankfully for several people there, I didn’t have the power to hire and fire, this didn’t happen—although it should have.
When I couldn’t get rid of him, I simply stopped talking to the guy. I avoided even making eye contact, lest I get trapped in a conversation with someone I really just didn’t want to be around. As a result, this seems to have made him think I wanted to beat him up. I didn’t, at least not until much later. I’ll admit now that slapping this little prick around would give me a shitload of satisfaction, but I’m not stupid. You can’t do that in a corporate environment, and I’ve been around too long to get caught threatening anyone, so my policy, for months, was one of avoidance.
To get to my office, I took the 4 or 5 train out of Atlantic Avenue, got off at Whitehall Street, and walked south to Water Street. There a Starbucks on the corner of Whitehall and Water, where the New York Heath and Racquet Club is. The building is lined with mirrors on the Whitehall side. One morning, a few months into this bullshit, I was crossing Whitehall, walking southwest, and saw this guy in front of me, closer to the corner. He looked in the mirror, noticed me behind him, and bolted into Starbucks.
A few days later, my “boss” called me into his office and told me the guy had come in crying the morning of our near-miss, saying he thought I was going to hurt him. Mind you, I probably hadn’t spoken to this anus in at least three months at this point.
Long story short, this ended in an HR complaint, and I actually had to go meet with an HR manager about it.
Even more frustrating were the conversations I’d have with other people in the company:
“Well, there have to be two sides to this story. You must have done something to the guy.”
“No. He sucks at his job, and I have to redo all his work, but I can’t fire him, so I stopped dealing with him.”
“Yeah, but there has to be more to it than that.”
“No, that’s pretty much it.”
“But you must have said something he construed as a threat. I mean, come on...you’re a big guy...”
And so on. The story had just one side, but because everyone noted the fact that I was twice the guy’s size and could easily rip his arm off the shove it up his ass had I chosen to, that the guy must have been justified in feeling threatened—despite the fact that all I did was, well, nothing.
So that—along with another opportunity that came along—was a major reason why I left. Who the fuck would want to work for a company where shit like this happens? The guy got his way, I suppose, but that’s the thing. Would you really want to be known as the grown man who walked into your office in tears, announcing to everyone there that you’re deathly afraid of a male coworker who’s obviously been going out of his way to avoid you? I’m not sure I’d call that a win, exactly. Plus, the guy is still horrible at his job, he’s about to be fired, and he won’t ever get hired again because he doesn’t have the skillset to work anywhere else in his industry.
I know I’m not supposed to be dwelling on this shit, but it’s a funny story, and a fascinating case of reverse discrimination against the unpussified.