For as long as I’ve worked at the psych ward, I’ve been internally face-palming and shaking my head in disgust. The rampant sexual harassment, misogyny, and ass-backwardness of this hospital is impossible to deny. And to top it all off, pretty much everyone is racist against someone else.
I remember my first exec meeting. The Goat Man blamed a faulty fax machine on the fact he hadn’t completed whatever it was he was supposed to have done.
“I don’t know what happens. I type in the number and I think it goes to Bombay or something.”
He then made an idiotic face and did his best to butcher an Indian accent.
“Oh what is dis? Must be toilet paper.”
Let’s not forget 90% of our psychiatrists are of Indian descent, more educated, and higher paid than this asshole.
Last week my coworker took a new employee named Sam on a tour of the administrative building. She introduced her to all the departments with very little fanfare until she reached accounting. They stepped into the bank of cubicles and the supervisor came waddling out, her glasses on a chain around her neck. She called for her staff to join her so they could be introduced.
They stood in a line as she pointed each one of them out.
“This here’s our high feather Indian.”
She put her hand behind her head, wiggling her fingers to signify a headdress before moving on to the next.
“And our Mexican.”
“Mexican” must have been fairly self-explanatory because he didn’t get any hand gestures.
“And Felicia is from Africa. You know about Africa? The place with all the dirt?”
Trying to resurrect the horror of the moment, Sam asked Felicia which country she was from.
“Sierra Leone,” she answered.
“Oh, it’s beautiful there.”
The supervisor looked at Sam closely.
“Oh? Are you African too?”
Sam, who obviously didn’t have to answer this question, responded in a clipped tone.
“I’m half African-American, half Venezuelan.”
“Oh!” the supervisor exclaimed. “Then you must like tacos!”
The other day I was walking into our warehouse to look at an electrical unit where someone had supposedly injured themselves for (yet another) workers comp claim. As I entered the front room a voice called out “We don’t want to buy any Girl Scout cookies!” I suppose it was an improvement from that time I was in a kitchen so they told me to make them a sandwich, and not nearly as bad as the rumor they recently spread about me.
When my boss first came to the hospital, it swirled with rumors. None of them were true and she soon showed herself to be a thousand times worse than our imaginations, but it was still fun to track the gossip. Like any ego-maniac, she was desperate to know what people were saying about her so–like a good foot soldier with zero personal investment— I listed them off for her.
In the long line of random and bogus information I mentioned that I’d been told she was a lesbian. I didn’t consider it particularly scandalous—the mental health field seems full of lesbians—but realized it probably wasn’t true when she showed me a photo of her male fiancé.
But she was incensed. She couldn’t believe it! How dare they!
The next week, she decided to address this salacious gossip (as opposed to the rumor that she’d slept with every other CEO in a 50-mile radius, was a neurotic dictator, or was there to shut the hospital down, etc.) in one of our staff meetings. But instead of bringing it up, she randomly put me on the spot when we came to the “Other New Business” portion of the agenda.
“Aussa heard a rumor that needs to be put to rest.”
I looked up from my doodles, trying to remember where we were and what year it was.
A dozen curious faces looked at me. Including my boss, who waited expectantly.
“Umm… what?” I said again.
“Tell them the rumor you told me about,” she prompted. “When we were driving to that presentation last week.”
“Yeah I don’t feel comfortable…” I started to say, but the room erupted.
“Well now you HAVE to tell us!” they kept saying.
I have no idea what her goal was, but I couldn’t do it. Sitting there and saying “omg I heard you like girls!” was like saying “omg lesbians, gross!” and two of the women in that room are MARRIED to other women. Plus my asshole coworker who’s gay and always looking for someone to sue.
“You mean… what I was told regarding your sexual orientation?”
She nodded, eager. Everyone continued to stare at me.
“Well,” I went on. “What I was told turned out to not be true because you’re marrying a man. So it doesn’t matter.”
They were all confused, completely incapable of interpreting this information.
“That’s right,” my boss announced, looking happily scandalized. “People think I’m a LEEEESSSBIAN.”
She paused for dramatic effect, as though she wanted us to all gasp in horror.
“But I’m not,” she said, waving her arms to disperse any lingering same-sex lust that might’ve been sent her way.
I couldn’t help checking the facial expressions of the actual lesbians in the room. They looked resigned and unaffected. Which is basically the only way to survive this god-forsaken place.
I like it when people try and tell me we’re living in “a post-racial America,” that feminism is unnecessary or people need to just get over themselves. Sure thing, we’ll do that just as soon as YOU stop being an asshole. Still unconvinced? Then PLEASE come visit us here at America’s most f*cked up psych hospital—we’re equal opportunity offensive over here.
Do you see hate or discrimination in your everyday life? What should be done to improve these sorts of mindsets? When was the last time someone offended YOU?
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