Monday, April 18, 2016

Seminars Make Us Soft

Last Tuesday I attended a mandatory "training session" entitled "Sexual Harassment and Respect in the Workplace."

This was particularly tough because the day (and night) before I participated in yet another liquor store inventory. Got to bed at 12:30 a.m., had to be in "class" at 8:30.

Believe me, the class lasted only an hour but it was supreme torture to stay awake.

I am cynical about classes like this, not because of the topic but because I have been to enough of them to know that they are designed to be understood by six year olds.

Actually the topic does disturb me a bit because I believe it is overdone in this day and age.

I am not advocating that we go back to work environments like that of "Mad Men", but I do believe the sensitivity level is way over the top. And I think many people use this ridiculous environment to unfairly accuse co-workers just because they can, and because they know the powers that be most likely are going to side with the accuser because these situations represent dangerous legal environments for antsy employers.

I'm sure the majority of these cases are brought by women against men because men are generally stupid when it comes to flirtatious situations. Although I am happy to inform you that in the store I work in, a guy was inadvertently forced to bring a complaint against a woman.

Pretty cool.

It is a strange environment today. I work with a lot of young women, and I am talking young - 20 years old, 21 etc. I go out of my way to avoid complimenting them about the cool earrings they are wearing or to notice that they have lost weight or are working out or any one of a hundred situations that could be interpreted as flirtatious.

Even though I am more than forty years older than they are.

Of course the male mind is a weak and pathetic thing; there are moments when I can almost believe a 20 year old woman might find a 62 year old guy attractive. I have no empirical proof but I believe it is easily accepted that most young women are attracted to older guys with beer guts, grey hair and bald spots.

Why wouldn't they be?

But this is not why I am here today.

The guy that ran the class was pathetic. Droning on in a boring monotone and making ridiculous analogies.

He flashed a picture on the screen of Mike and Carol Brady from "The Brady Bunch." Talked about how the show was considered controversial at the time because Carol was previously divorced and Mike was a widower and because they were shown in bed together, the first time this had been done on TV.

The guy kept trying to get the class involved in his very amateurish way. He asked if we knew why he flashed the Brady's on the screen.

Dead silence.

"Because this shows that things change. Previous TV shows were not as bold and, obviously, things have changed dramatically between then and now on TV."

I was stunned to learn this. Things have changed dramatically in the last 50 years?

I was glad to have gotten up early, groggy and irritable as I was, to be in the position to learn new things.

His attempts to involve the class became more laughable.

I am going to use hyperbole to make a point here. He would do something akin to flashing a picture of a chocolate cake up on the screen and ask "Does anybody know what this is?"

Dead silence. The attendees were stubborn and refused to participate.

I loved it.

Then he handed out four scenarios, we were forced to split into groups, read the ridiculous little stories and "discuss" whether or not we considered each situation to be "inappropriate."

Another lame attempt to inspire interest in the attendees.

After ten minutes of reflection he asked who wanted to read out loud, one of the "vignettes", as he called them.

Dead silence. Really uncomfortable silence.

Until a woman representing human resources had to step up and do the dirty deed, out of embarrassment.

It was delicious.

You get the picture. The class was a joke.

I understand the need to hold sessions like this. I just wish they were conducted on a more elevated level, in a more intelligent way.

I don't appreciate being treated like a first grader. Of course part of the problem is the incompetence of the presenter. The class requires someone who can inspire learning and do it in a challenging way.

The topic is a serious one. It could be discussed in depth. Attendees could gain new insights and learn how to better navigate the minefield that currently exists in the workplace.

Anyway, I got home at 10:30, scarfed down the Big Mac, double cheeseburger and medium fries I had picked up on the way home ( I had medicated myself the night before because that is a requirement when I suffer through inventory torture) and then took a 2 and 1/2 hour nap with a cat on my lap.

11:30 to 2:00.

That, my friends, was the highlight of my day.

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