This news article about an African American woman who is suing General Electric for racial discrimination caught my eye because of one particular complaint:
She also complained of being harassed by supervisors who would call her at exactly 8 a.m. to make sure she was at her desk after she requested a flexible schedule to balance her work and home life. She noted white colleagues did not receive the same kind of attention.
Now, that’s one of those things that seems almost unbelievable, doesn’t it? Kind of like why two white guys would stop on the street to harass two African American men and then engage in physical confrontation. If you tell white people about these kinds of incidents, they screw up their faces and say, “But that just doesn’t make any sense.”
I had forgotten about the depths of racist weirdness. But when I read this article I remembered the supervisor I once had who used to be waiting at my desk when I arrived. In my evaluation, she wrote that I was habitually late.
Anybody who knows me knows this is not the case. I have a bad case of Early Disease. At another job, I once was one (one!) minute late and my office had already called my home because they were worried that something had happened to me.
With this supervisor, it started with phone calls. Then I would arrive at work to find her waiting at my desk. The receptionist told me that she asked to see the log-in sheets for me every morning; because I worked in a secure location, the receptionist logged your entry and exit time every day. Finally, in an extreme act of weirdness, the clock in my section of the office kept being changed. First it was ten minutes fast. Then it was fifteen minutes fast. Even that was not enough to trap somebody who suffered from Early Disease. Setting the clock thirty-five minutes ahead was enough to do so, however.
I came in the office that morning with another employee. And the supervisor was waiting at my desk again. She remarked again about my ‘chronic tardiness’ and pointed to the clock. I glanced at it with some surprise and looked at my watch. According to my watch I was early.
Since I was still young and naive at that point, I mentioned that the clock was wrong and she said, “I don’t care. You start work at the time that is on that clock. And you are late.”