The Bigotry of Low Expectations

One of my first experiences with a ‘wonderful’ person happened at work. A Native American friend of ours was worried about his drinking. I proposed that he attempt to control his drinking, and I gave him my methods of doing so. A wonderful person, we’ll call her Julie, stepped forth and told the Native American that he shouldn’t worry about it. She said that he was predisposed to drink a lot of alcohol, based upon his ethnic heritage.

I found her comments disgusting, and I informed both of them of my disgust. “She’s calling you weak!” I informed the Native American. This angered both of them. Julie couldn’t put her anger into words, but she gave me a reaction that told me I was being insensitive.

As this individual’s tenure at my company continued, he displayed a deplorable work ethic. I complained to him and to Julie about him. She got angry at me again for being insensitive. She informed me that he was genetically predisposed to have a poor work ethic. I thought this was idiotic, and I almost went off on her for it. I didn’t though. She was my boss, and I decided to save it for more meaningful battles that I could win. What I didn’t say is that I am disgusted by anyone’s poor work ethic, and I would complain about them regardless of who or what they were. She was more intelligent than I was, however. She was more sensitive than I was, she was more in tune with the cultural vagaries than I was, and she was more wonderful than I was. I was (and am) more bottom line. If a guy enters the work force, I say, that person should be held to the same standard as every one else regardless of cultural vagaries. My solutions are too simplistic and they lack understanding. Julie was a wonderful person who felt sorry for a troglodyte like me who didn’t understand that certain people were just different than I am. It was my first encounter with a wonderul person. I didn’t know how to defeat the concept back then.


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