I forgot how bad it felt to be bullied until I was verbally assaulted at work the other day. Well, I suppose bullied is an extreme description since I take some responsibility for why my colleagues were angry with me.
I was at the grocery store with Mr. Carter when I saw a new product. It was a veggie bowl, ready-made and intended to be put into the microwave for 3-4 minutes. Because I was in the New Year mood of wanting to eat cleaner, I quickly decided to try it and tossed a few containers in my cart. I took one to work the next day without a second thought.
Our break room is an open space. The only solid wall houses the appliances, while the rest of the area is easily accessible to the rest of the office. Since there’s only one microwave, a line had formed during lunch. I was second in this line and chatted it up with the others having lunch while I waited. Then it was my turn, and I placed my mixed bag of greens in the microwave, all the while continuing my previous conversation.
Bing! My lunch was done, and I took it out, only to find people smiling around me. I must say this would be the last time they’d be smiling in my direction, as a voice from a distance began to exclaim how something STUNK. Confused, I said I didn’t smell anything, and honestly at the moment had no idea the comment was sent it my direction.
I feel the need to point out that as someone who has spent just about my entire adult life in a radio environment, meaning an air-tight radio studio environment, I am fully aware of the risks certain foods bring. For instance, heating up fish or eggs in the community microwave is a big no-no, and bringing any food to your work station that has a strong scent of any kind is dangerous. So the idea of a bowl of vegetables at work didn’t even cross my mental radar as a problem.
Oh, but it was, and any aroma from the open break room permeates throughout the office. Apparently, when kale is heated up, it evokes a smell that one colleague described as a fart. Another said it smelled like garbage that had been taken from the trash can and placed in the microwave. Yet another compared it to the New Jersey Turnpike. And on and on it went until I reached a point of being truly self-conscience. Once such friendly faces turned on a dime into sour expressions, bombarding me with messages that I had offended not only the break room or the office but all of humanity as well.
It was an insignificant incident and soon forgotten, but the fact so many felt the need to give their feedback forced me to reflect on my own behavior. Is it worth contributing to a pile-on toward something you don’t like, or could a simple act of kindness and a quick ‘it will be ok’ turn out to be more effective? Regardless, the hot kale will forever remain at home.