After facing workplace repercussions, a man turned to an online forum seeking understanding, convinced that he was undeserving of the trouble he encountered. He detailed a situation involving a new colleague, referred to as “Anna,” who brought her own lunch to the office, a practice he deemed problematic. Describing an encounter where he stumbled upon Anna retrieving her lunch from the microwave, he shared with the online community that he commented on the delightful aroma, labeling it as “heavenly.”
He Thought Other People May Find the Smell Offensive
Despite telling Anna that her vegetables smelled amazing, he upset her by telling her that some people don’t like the smell of “ethnic” food. He explained to readers that he knows that racist people tend to look down on “ethnic” things“ and that he has read about how people have “ microaggressions when it comes to people of color.” He went on to tell Anna that she might want to rethink the types of food she brings to work.
He Was Only “Warning Her”
Justifying his behavior, the original poster (OP) said that he just wanted to warn Anna that other people may not find the smell appealing, and he would not want her to be hassled by other coworkers. He did, however, remind her that he was fine with the smell and emphasized he was trying to help her out.
Other People Overheard the Conversation
After Anna left the room, other coworkers told the OP they overheard his conversation with Anna and told him that it was inappropriate. In response to criticism, he once again said that he knows how much “ethnic” people get ridiculed for the food they eat, and he thought that telling her not to bring it would be better for her.
He Was Accused of Harassing Her
The OP was dismayed at his coworkers telling him that he was the only one who seemed to be harassing Anna for insinuating her food was a problem. He once again explained his actions by saying that he “just wanted people, yes, even the a******s, at the office to make her feel welcomed.”
Anna Talked To HR
Thinking that it was all over, the OP was surprised to hear that Anna had spoken to HR about what he had said to her, which put him in a panic. He told Reddit readers that he was frustrated that Anna did not approach him first so he could explain the “misunderstanding.” He finished the post by saying the whole situation had been “blown out of proportion,” and his coworkers think he is a racist.
Readers Confirmed He Was Out of Order
If the OP thought he would get some empathy on the forum, he was very much mistaken, as readers deemed him to be an a**hole. People were in disbelief that he could be defacing the blame on others and that he had no idea about what microaggressions were. One person said, “I’ve read some stuff about microaggressions.” Clearly, it is not enough! Read more!”
White Savior Complex
The OP was accused of having a “White savior complex” by one person who said the “OP’s version of help was infantilizing and presumptive.” This person also questioned the hostile working environment Anna’s place of work must be if this type of behavior is even considered.
It is Unfair to Other Colleagues
One reader pointed out that the OP was throwing others under the bus when they said “Also, what a great way to paint everyone else in the office as a lurking racist while only he is safe as a Fantastic Ally.” Another went further, saying, “It’s so paternalistic and trying to get her to assimilate to white culture.” The fact that the OP was bold enough to walk up to Anna and talk to her in this way poses questions about how he treats other people and if he tries to “help” others out.
He Undermined Anna
As well as making assumptions about other coworkers, the OP was accused of treating Anna like she was dumb. One person said, “Doesn’t he think she is an adult who realizes that there is such a thing as prejudice against other cultures in the world?”. The OP did not get a lot of love from his post, which must have weighed heavily on him.
The Man’s Eye Was Opened
The man edited his original post to express his regret for behaving inappropriately towards his coworker. He said he would be apologizing to her in ”the most HR-friendly way” and hoping he would not get fired. He finishes by thanking readers for “opening my eyes” and promises that he will be more of an ally in the future.
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