That sentence alone is enough to get you kicked out of any clients office and have you once again posting your resume on one of those online job web sites. I knew that, my friend Eric knew that, but Mauricio didn’t know it.
Mauricio and his wife Maria are Cuban. They escaped from Cuba and came to the U.S. over 30 years ago. Like many immigrants from Cuba they ended up in Miami and worked hard to make a life here. Other than a heavy accent their English is quite good.
Maruicio is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He is always happy, always ready with a joke, and a very entertaining person. You might call him “jovial” and you cannot help but like him. He is a regular guy who has not been corrupted by the political correctness movement and the demoralizing environment of many of today’s offices. He is an innocent soul who is out to work hard and have fun.
DayJobNuker, Mauricio, and Eric were all at a client’s head office in Ohio (if you want to know what we all do for a living please read this post). They are our client, we are the guest, we need their business, and it is a privilege to be there. We were in a large room with rows of desks where people sit and do various Accounts Paypable type activities. The room was about 40% full as it was after 4:00 PM and many people had already gone home. Almost NO MEN worked in this room and many of the women had different skin colors.
Marricio must have been momentarily bored or just wanting to talk as he suddenly turned toward Eric and said in a normal voice “let me tell you an ethnic joke“. He wasn’t whispering or doing anything to be more quiet than normal.
The Resulting Conversation
Eric: (Whispering loudly with some hand motions) “No, no, NO!”
Mauricio: “What? What’s wrong? I have a funny ethnic joke!”
Eric: (Turning a little pale now and quickly glancing around the room to see if anyone could hear them) “NO Maurice NO! Not here!”
Mauricio: “What? Why? But it’s funny. You see a Jew and a …”
Eric: (with lots of hand motions now and getting close to being too loud himself) “Maurice! NO! Don’t you understand? You can’t tell a joke here! No jokes! Just be quiet and shut up!”
Mauricio: “Oh, OK. I’ll be quite if you don’t want to hear my joke.”
We never did get in any trouble from the client but we most certainly could have. We easily might have lost the account over this one little thing in today’s politically correct environment. You just don’t go into a client’s office and start telling ethnic jokes!
This event was not funny in the least when it happened as Eric and I were terrified someone would complain about us. It is funny as hell now though as we often talk about the “good old days” and “remember when Mauricio tried to tell that joke right there in the room full of women?”
As for Mauricio, I don’t think he ever fully comprehended what he did wrong. It’s not that he is dumb but rather that he just isn’t in tune to the ever fluctuating “do’s” and “don’ts” of the office environment. He doesn’t worry about his tone, the way he looks at someone, or the many ways what he says can misconstrued or twisted by someone with an agenda. To Maurcio, a joke is a joke and if it is funny then it is worth telling. His life is a little more innocent and care free than all the rest of ours. In many ways I envy him.