Mick thought he was offering his new colleague helpful advice, but now he’s being labeled a racist! Was he in the wrong? Let’s find out.
Fragrant Asian Food
Mick, a 32-year-old man, was no stranger to the dynamics of his office. One day, a fresh face appeared at his workplace – Anna, a young woman in her early 20s of Asian descent.
Anna often brought her own lunch, especially when the office had no food truck. On one particular Thursday, Anna warmed up a homemade stir fry in the shared microwave in the break room.
As the rich aroma wafted through the air, Mick, who was also in the room then, was entranced by the smell. He approached Anna to compliment the smell and inquire about the recipe.
Anna explained that it was a spontaneous mix of ingredients and spices to ensure that her leftover veggies didn’t go to waste.
The Office Might Perceive Her Food as “Too Smelly or Ethnic”
But as they continued talking, Mick took the conversation in a rather unexpected turn…
Drawing from stories he’d heard about racial microaggressions over the foods that people of color sometimes bring to work, he wanted to give Anna a heads-up.
He remarked that while he found the aroma delightful, others in the office might perceive her food as “too smelly or ethnic.” Mick believed he was doing Anna a favor, warning her of potential conflict to avoid unpleasant experiences.
However, as with many open spaces, some conversations are never truly private. A few of Mick’s coworkers had overheard the exchange.
“You Were the Only One Harassing Her”
After Anna had left the break room, these colleagues took it upon themselves to approach Mick. They were shocked and told Mick in no uncertain terms that his remarks might have been inappropriate.
Mick, ever defensive, pointed out the unfortunate truth that sometimes people get unwarranted harassment for the smell of their food.
He disagreed with people who would do this, but he maintained that he only wished to make Anna aware so she could avoid drama.
One coworker’s reply stung particularly hard: “You were the only one harassing her.” They pointed out that Anna had barely been in the office for a week, and there hadn’t been enough time for anyone to have an issue with her meals.
He Wanted To Make Her Feel Welcome
Mick intended to ensure that everyone, including those with different views, would make Anna feel welcome. Unfortunately, his method of achieving this was flawed.
The next day, Mick’s world was turned upside down. He learned from another colleague that Anna had reported their conversation to the HR department, expressing her hurt over his comments.
This was disheartening for Mick. He was baffled as to why Anna hadn’t approached him first, considering “it was just a misunderstanding.”.
He had wanted to create a bond with her, especially knowing that this was one of her first jobs after university. But the situation had blown up far beyond his expectations!
Whispers Around the Office Suggested That He Might Be a Racist.
Now, whispers around the office suggested that Mick might be a racist.
Mick had hoped to be an ally, but it had all ended in disaster! But what Mick wanted to know was – was his approach wrong?
He asked Reddit for their opinion – “So, am I tan idiot for telling her that her food might be a bit too much for other potentially racist people in the office to handle?”
The Reddit community resoundingly expressed their stance with a chorus of “You’re the idiot” comments, criticizing Mick for his actions.
“Your Coworker Is a Grown Woman Who’s Been Asian Her Entire Life. Do You Genuinely Think She’s Unaware That Racism Exists?”
They pointed out that Mick had been the person committing these microaggressions with his advice to Anna, with one commenter saying, “Your coworker is a grown woman who’s been Asian her entire life. Do you genuinely think she’s unaware that racism exists?”
Redditors explained to Mick that he had alienated Anna by emphasizing the “ethnic” aspect of her meal. They thought he had been clueless in his interaction with her.
One person said, “You came off like this: “SOME people might say that your food is smelly. Not me, though. But SOME PEOPLE.” And then you proceeded to call her food Ethnic.
You might as well have worn a shirt that said SOME PEOPLE on it with an arrow pointing to your face.”
“Thank You for Opening My Eyes, and I Hope To Do My Due Diligence To Be a Real Ally”
Luckily, Mick took the advice to heart and posted a follow-up saying, “Yes, I get it, I’m the idiot. What I said was really stupid. I just thought she was a sweet girl who didn’t deserve to see the nasty side of corporate life so quickly, but I guess I ended up being like the guys that made my earlier career so god-awful. Anyway, I want to apologize to her in the most HR-friendly way this Tuesday. Hopefully, she doesn’t quit, but I also don’t want to be the one that gets fired. Fingers crossed. Thank you for opening my eyes, and I hope to do my due diligence to be a real ally.”
Have you ever dealt with a colleague who made food at work that turned your stomach? What happened?
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Krakenimages.com. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.