Mick thought he was offering his new colleague some helpful advice, but now he’s being labelled a racist! Was he in the wrong? Let’s find out.
A Fresh Face in the Office
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’s Homemade Lunches
Anna often brought her own lunch, especially on days when the office didn’t have a food truck.
On one particular Thursday, Anna decided to warm up a homemade stir fry in the shared microwave situated in the break room.
As the rich aroma wafted through the air, Mick, who was also in the room at that moment, 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, made to ensure that her leftover veggies didn’t go to waste.
Mick’s Well-Intentioned Warning
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 personally found the aroma delightful, there might be others in the office who could perceive her food as “too smelly or ethnic.”
Mick believed that he was doing Anna a favor, warning her of potential conflict to avoid any unpleasant experiences.
Colleagues React to Mick’s Remarks
However, as with many open spaces, some conversations are never truly private. A few of Mick’s coworkers had overheard the exchange.
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 had only wished to make Anna aware so she could avoid any 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.
Mick’s intent was to ensure that everyone, including those with different views, would make Anna feel welcome. Unfortunately, his method of achieving this was flawed.
Anna’s HR Report
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!
Trying to Understand His Mistake
Now, there were whispers around the office suggesting 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?
Mick’s Controversial Question
He decided to ask Reddit for their opinion – “So, am I the jerk for telling her that her food might be a bit too much for other potentially racist people in the office to handle?”
Explaining Racism to a Woman That Is Aware of Racism
The Reddit community resoundingly expressed their stance with a chorus of “You’re the jerk” comments, criticizing Mick for his actions.
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 and thought that 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.”
Reflection and Apology
Luckily, Mick took the advice to heart and posted a follow-up saying, “Yes, I get it, I’m the jerk. 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.“
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The post Office Sensitivity Overdrive? When a Compliment Turns Racist – His ‘Smelly Ethnic Food’ Fallout first appeared on Wealthy Living.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.