A Kind Contrarian

And the Crappy Assumptions That Made Me This Way

It is not uncommon that a little event really gets under my skin. I stew on it and talk to some friends until I find the reason why. Typically, one of my core values has been violated. In this case, I was doing phone screen interviews and several candidates were just, plain rude. Why? Because they assumed I was a recruiter. They changed their tune when the found out I was the hiring manager. Too bad the first impression was already made.

I learned the Golden Rule from The Berenstain Bears “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” Quick digression: I think it’s spelled that way so we can have drunken debates about whether or not they are Jewish. Getting back on track… My core value is a little more nuanced: “Assume others are equal to you and treat them as such until they teach you otherwise.”

There could be another #Metoo movement of people who were treated as “less than” for the silliest of assumptions. I’ll give a few stories of my experiences. It should be known that calling people out on this behavior is one of my favorite things to do.

When I was in High School a guy in my friend circle asks why I’m not in any of their classes. I tell him I’m in the honors track. He literally says “I didn’t realize you were smart.” I say “I knew you weren’t smart (smirk), but why didn’t you think I was?” The answer: “Because you’re cool.”

Silly assumption #1: Smart and cool don’t mix.

When I was in college (it was the 90’s in California) I dressed like a skater and my hair looked a bit like Leeloo from The 5th Element. Some girls were making fun of the Greek system so I told them I was in a sorority. They started cracking up and thought I was joking. Why? My hair and clothes. I told them I was serious and invited them over for lunch. They declined.

Silly assumption #2: Dress defines group affiliations.

In my twenties I was doing Cultural Resources Management and I studied all the laws backwards and forwards. I was the expert on what would need to happen to make sure no archeological resources were damaged by a particular construction project. The client just would not believe my assessment. Why? I was too young. My reports had to be coauthored although not a single word was written by anyone other than me.

Silly assumption #3: Experts must be old.

In my thirties I was a Project Manager and Team Lead for some Software Engineers. I’m in line at the company cafeteria and the guy serving food says “What’ll you have Boss?” to each customer until it’s my turn. He says “What will you have?” in this much more dainty way. From there it goes like this:

  • Me: “Why didn’t you call me Boss?”
  • Him: “Because you’re a lady.”
  • Me: “Seriously?”
  • Him: “I mean, are you a boss?”
  • Patron behind me: “She the only one in this whole line that’s a boss.”
  • Him: “Ohh. Sorry.”
  • Me: “Just give me the special.”
  • Patron: “Dude.”

Silly assumption #4: Line cooks are enlightened. I kid, I kid… actual silly assumption #4: Ladies aren’t Bosses.

I always strive to treat others as my equals. I get to know people and I don’t listen to gossip about others. I form my own judgements based on my own history with that person. I think this makes me kind.

A contrarian is someone who “opposes or rejects popular opinion; goes against current practice.” Considering many people make false assumptions and I don’t go along with it, but rather call it out as bullsh*t; I feel like a contrarian.

Therefore, I consider myself, a kind contrarian.

In all honesty, I like to keep my posts lighthearted, but I think this is a serious topic for women and minorities. There are still systemic biases that lead to invalidating, and damaging messages that repeatedly go out to a large portion of our population. Not all people are lucky enough to have family and friends to support them or even know they need building back up. I would love to make this world a little better by growing some more kind contrarians. I just want to find a few more people who are willing to treat others as equals and never shy away from asking “Why would you assume THAT?”

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