My favorite thing about noise-cancelling headphones is that you don’t ever have to be apologetic when someone tries desperately to grab your attention and fails. This is precisely why I make sure to pack them in my briefcase everyday before I go to work. Last week, a gentle tap on the shoulder unplugged me from the Spotify Matrix and I was greeted with the frustrated face of a co-worker who had been trying to ask me a question for the last two minutes. I casually slipped off my Audio-Technica’s to answer, but what I got was not the question I was expecting.
Her: Hey, can you sho…wait, what are you listening to by the way? Me: Uh, Prince…Raspberry Beret…you’ve never heard this song before? Her: Prince?? HAHAHA no thank you… Me: (confused look) Really? His music is wild funky though.
Her: Funky? I don’t think so… Me: Hm…well, who would you say is funkier than Prince? Her: (smirks defiantly) Well, me and my boyfriend are going to New York to see a Jason Mraz concert this weekend…
I’m not exactly sure how I reacted because after several gears in my cerebrum slipped instantly, I’m almost certain that I blacked out for about 8 seconds. It was probably something like:
Somehow, I quickly recovered and then attempted to make sense of what I had just heard. Hold up! Wait, nahhhhhhh…nope, she didn’t just say…yup she definitely did…wow. However, a bigger issue was unintentionally raised: in a professional work environment, when does it become necessary to speak up?
There are so many things to consider when you’re a 20-something in a professional setting who can count the number of years they’ve been working full-time on half of one hand. Everyone wants to be a leader and succeed, and the yuppie dilemma wouldn’t exist if promotions and corner offices were handed out like beads during Mardi Gras. You want to work hard, not piss off your boss, be well-liked by your co-workers and raved about by all of your clients. And you learn very quickly that there are going to be times where certain things or certain people piss you off, but you’ll have to pick and choose your battles for the sake of your own future.
You also learn that not everything needs to go to Human Resources. HR is like seat belts or condoms: it’s good to know they have your back and they’re there when you need them, but no one uses them ALL the time. I’ve heard homophobic remarks on the job, had someone tell me racism ended after the civil war, and even had a co-worker square up and take a swing at me one night after drinks. But I stand here today and say that not one of those incidents came close to being as inflammatory as when I was looked dead in the eye and told that:
was funkier than:
Now, some of you are thinking, “isn’t what she said really a matter of opinion..?”
Yo, I didn’t ask her if she liked Prince. I asked her who was funkier than Prince. There were many acceptable answers too, might I add. She could’ve said James Brown. George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic? Sure. There’s also Rick James. Even Justin “Hollywood” Timberlake would’ve been a more acceptable answer, albeit a grossly uninformed one. But nope, she said with ultimate sincerity that Jason Mraz took the funk more seriously than the man who made Purple Rain and she said it with absolutely NO fear of repercussions. JASON MRAZ though! I don’t know if most folks would even consider his style of music as ‘funk’ in general. But funkier than Prince, Mr. “Computer Blue” who taught us how to party like it was 1999?? GTFOH! If Jason Mraz can be funkier than Prince, then I guess Rihanna is more soulful than Aretha too, right? I felt violated. I’m not sure if there is a place of employment whose HR department would even have a mechanism to deal with transgressions of this nature. After I heard it all I could do was I close my eyes and pray she would walk into the ladies’ room with the lights off, look in the mirror, whisper what she just told me, and maybe Prince himself would pop up behind her ready to scratch her eyes out with his impeccably manicured fingernails, twirl around in his platform heels and then march out of the restroom.
And honestly, it probably run deeper than just work life. I mean no offense to her boyfriend or anything, but how does one even trust a female who doesn’t have a goddamn clue of what it sounds like when doves cry? That’s the type of shit you ask on first dates that either makes or breaks your future with that person. It should have gone more like this:Him: Wow, this dinner was great! I have a question for you though: what is it that it sounds like when doves cry…? Her: Duh, THIS is what it sounds like when doves cry. Everyone knows that silly. Him: (gets down on one knee) …will you marry me?
Yes, it really is that simple. Figuring out how to navigate office drama is much more difficult though. It’s a dog eat dog world and if Prince’s contributions to the genre of funk could be so easily dismissed then I know nothing will be sacred on this long road to collecting a 401k. Like I said, you oughta have known that there was going to be some tongue-biting involved when you signed up for this path in the yuppie dilemma of life.
After all, Little Red Corvettes don’t go to the dealerships and lease themselves, do they.