Dear Tell All: I’m one of the few young people in my department at work. It seems like practically a different country from the Madison liberal circles I travel in outside the workplace. There are a lot of conservatives and a lot of religious types. Most of them are nice enough, with the exception of a couple senior-citizen guys I just can’t stand. I call them the Terrible Twosome.
Things have gotten especially bad as the U.S. Supreme Court considers legalizing same-sex marriage. When our department goes out to lunch together for someone’s birthday, the Terrible Twosome always sit next to each other and often complain about gay people getting hitched. No one ever calls them on it—and for all I know, most of my coworkers agree with them.
Luckily, I don’t hear them talk about the issue in the office, though I have seen them sarcastically roll their eyes when the subject of same-sex marriage comes up.
Tell All, do you think this is bad enough to take to the human resources department? I find their behavior offensive and wonder if I have to keep putting up with it.
Dear Put-Out: This doesn’t seem like a job for the human resources department. From what I gather, the Terrible Twosome don’t break any rules in the workplace. Human resources can’t—and shouldn’t--prevent them from having their own opinions and expressing them on lunch breaks.
Rather than seeking help from the bureaucracy, Put-Out, how about mustering the courage to do something yourself? You don’t have to suffer in silence during departmental lunches. The next time the senior citizens toss off a hateful opinion, counter it with an opinion of your own. Firmly tell them that you disagree, and explain why.
Maybe you’ll even change their minds over time. Hey, we know it’s possible: Against all odds, the rest of this once-homophobic country is coming around to the idea of same-sex marriage.
That’s another thing to keep in mind, Put-Out. Your side is winning. The Terrible Twosome can complain all they want, but same-sex marriage is gaining ground and will likely get a thumbs-up from the U.S. Supreme Court. No amount of eye-rolling can stop it now.
Do you have a question about life or love in Madison? Write Tell All, 101 King St., Madison, WI 53703. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.