On Being Politically Correct (Grrrr….)

Some days I can truly understand what drives people to drink. In fact, I’m sitting on a step-stool in our dining room-turned-John’s-office with a glass of white Zinfandel nearby on the floor. I have to move enough that it stops me from drinking too fast.

Today was my first day back at work after a week off (plus one sick day, the details of which you don’t want to know). It took nearly the entire day just to catch up on e-mail.

On the positive side, it was a beautiful, sunny day and the scenery outside my office window was fine enough (considering that I look out at Taylor Swift’s condo) and am surrounded by tall buildings. I do have a view of a nice bell tower that reminds me of Italy, if I look in just the right direction.

But I was blown away by something that happened at work today. I sent an e-mail to my colleagues about an hour and a half after my arrival. I thought the tone was light and faintly humorous, but someone got offended. The offending term? “Kitchen Nazi.” 

I discovered my offense when I received a phone call from our HR director. She asked me to send out an e-mail of apology to everyone who’d received the first e-mail and to copy her. I was dumbfounded.

Here’s basically what I’d said in the first e-mail:


The Kitchen Nazi has returned from a week of vacation, and I smelled something rotten in our refrigerator. After going through the contents, I think I have narrowed it down to a styrofoam container of rice & chicken (or something) in a Publix grocery bag. If this is your container, please dispose of it, or I will toss it by the end of the day.

Thanks so much!”

I have learned from experience, you see, not to toss something without giving fair warning. Once when I went by my keen schnozz and thought I’d found the source of a bad smell in our refrigerator, I threw out someone’s lunch for that day. (Far be it from me to say this person must have a really bad sense of taste and smell.)

And I was prompted to send the e-mail after I discovered….ewww, gross! that coffee grounds were still sitting in the coffee maker and actually had spots of mold on them. That led me to think that no one had made coffee in the entire week I was out.

Anyhoo, I did send an e-mail of apoplectic apology, but not until after I’d thought of quite a few curse words and even said a mental “Go to hell!” to the person who was so offended by the term “kitchen Nazi.” My reasoning went something like this:

1. Really, do we have no sense of humor? Those who know me know that I am usually a friendly person who does her best to be gracious to others and would never knowingly hurt someone.

2. Is that really an ethnic slur, and if so, who in our workplace would be offended by it? I mean, we don’t have any Germans that I know of. Maybe some of German descent, but I really wasn’t using the term to refer to the German nation (at least it wasn’t my intent). Besides, my LAST NAME is German. We hosted an exchange student from Germany in our home for 3 months. Why would I shoot myself in the foot?

3. Aw, hell, it sure is hard to be nice sometimes. Even when you try your best, there are people who are watching and waiting to jump on the slightest thing and who actually want to raise a ruckus about NOTHING.

4. Being asked to apologize, while I am willing to do so to keep the peace, makes me feel like a 6-year-old who’s been in an argument with her brother…and Mom just told us to make things right with each other. I really don’t want to.

5. I am mad. Pissed would really be a better description.

6. I’m tired of being politically correct. Don’t most of us have the common sense to treat our colleagues as ADULTS?

7. I sure wish that someone else cared as much as I do about the kitchen, but really, I kind of enjoy washing the dishes and the counter and making coffee.

Well, that’s how my day went. I guess I’ll get over it, but I wish that our office morale was just a tad better. I will come back tomorrow and smile and do what I can to make a positive contribution. And I’ve already asked for forgiveness for my obviously highly offensive personality.

2 thoughts on “On Being Politically Correct (Grrrr….)

  1. Its amazing how you have to analyze each word you use to determine if there is any chance at all someone can make a stink about something.i was a very careful local politician. It always amazes me how people are slow to compliment but quick to complain.

  2. Really? Someone is offended by “kitchen Nazi”? Oh, Anne, that would make me cross, as would having to apologize. Some of your colleagues need to lighten up AND grow up. Hang in there…

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