In Defense of Stubbornness

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be stubborn.  Dictionary.com defines stubborn as an adjective meaning

1. unreasonably obstinate; obstinately unmoving: a stubborn child.
2. fixed or set in purpose or opinion; resolute: a stubborn opponent of foreign aid.
3. obstinately maintained, as a course of action: a stubborn resistance.
4. difficult to manage or suppress: a stubborn horse; a stubborn pain.
5. hard, tough, or stiff, as stone or wood; difficult to shape or work.
 
Just looking at the word, it has no grace to it, with those clumsy double bb’s in the middle.  It already looks intractable.  Despite its smiling ‘u’ towards the beginning of the word, the double bb’s make me think of little feet stomping in opposition.  The word ‘born’ seems to give rise to the meaning that someone or something possessing this quality has it innately; the quality did not develop on its own but was always there.
 
My kids are both stubborn. Zac is a master debater, even from when he was small.  “Why do I need to clean my room?  Isn’t it your house?  Why should I make my bed when I’m just going to sleep in it again?  Cooked vegetables for dinner?  I’m not hungry”.  Ruby and I have had several “battle of the wills” getting her to clean her room.  Those of you who attend our church have probably witnessed me “removing her from the fellowship” so she can learn to do what she’s told when she’s asked.  I always win.  Usually I keep my cool, and when I don’t, I apologize.  I take full responsibility for this negative character trait that my offspring have a double portion of.
 
Our Bible reading plan put us in Exodus now.  This word, stubborn, applies to Pharaoh.  The Bible attributed it to him over and over again. Every time Moses and Aaron released a plague, the court magicians duplicated it – water into blood, gnats, etc.  And even when they couldn’t, once the immediate danger or inconvenience passed, Pharoah “hardened his heart again”.  God struck the firstborn of all of Egypt and that was the last straw for Pharoah to release the Israelites to worship God.  But once the Israelites left, Pharoah regained his stubbornness and pursued them with his army, all the way into the middle of the Red Sea.  His stubbornness got himself and his entire army drowned.
 
This is not how I’d like to be remembered.  It’s not how I want my kids to be remembered, either.  But, at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, God is stubborn, too.  He called Israel a “stiff-necked” people, God-speak for “stubborn”.  And if they are His chosen people, logically, they carry His DNA.  God’s love for them, and us who are grafted into the fellowship, is stubborn.  Persistent.  He remains constant despite obstacles, sin, rejection, even hatred. He longs for us, woos us, reaches out to us in a myriad of ways every day.  We curse Him.  We turn away from him and distract ourselves with entertainment.  He is not deterred.  He is stubborn.  He encompasses all the definitions of the word.  Thank God for his “unreasonable” love!
 
Maybe stubborn is not a bad quality. It just has a bad rep.  Persistent love in the face of all odds is a wonderful, amazing thing.  May we learn to be stubborn for the right things – righteousness, holiness, and all the fruits of the Spirit.  May we be stubborn to protect the fatherless, the widow and the orphan.  May we be stubborn in seeking His face. 
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Jacob, Esau and Divine Blessing

More than a Sunday school story.

Okay, so I’m doing a lousy job blogging the Bible.  I can’t keep up with writing about what I’ve read!  We’re now in Exodus on our reading plan.  So much for the first patriarchs. Now, I cherry-pick.

I love Joseph. He is my very favorite.  He’s the most written about in the book of Genesis.  He is favored, then imprisoned unjustly, then overcomes and becomes Pharoah’s right hand in a key time in early history.

But I don’t want to write about him.  I wrote about him, years ago, in another time on another blog that is now defunct (thank you, Yahoo 360!).  Sigh.

I want to write about Jacob.  How come he has so much favor from God?  In the womb, the twin boys struggle.  Rebekah seeks the Lord about what was going on.  Never pregnant before, this is terrifying (25:22).  The Lord speaks to her directly, the first time He speaks to a woman who seeks him directly, in the entire Old Testament:  “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (25:23).  Out of the womb, Jacob’s trying to come out first of the twin brothers, grasping his brother’s heel.  Hence his name:  Deceiver.  From the description of his brother Esau being red and hairy, we get the idea that they’re not identical, but fraternal twins. 

Right away, Jacob is his mother’s, Rebekah’s, favorite.  You could argue that she’s just following God on that one. He’s what we would call, in the words of Jim Gaffigan, “indoorsy”.  He cooks, he hangs out at home, maybe even does needlepoint, and he doesn’t need to shave.  He’s a homebody, a “mama’s boy”.  His brother, however, is the apple of his father Isaac’s eye.  He hunts, he camps, he loves being outdoors.  He’s very hirsute. He’s a manly man.  The contrast to me sounds like Clark Kent vs. Tarzan.  This family is set up for a huge conflict. 

One day, Esau returns from hunting, famished.  He connives Esau out of his father’s blessing (firstborns always get the best blessings) with a pot of delicious stew. He will give Esau some, at a high price. Esau, thinking with his belly, sells his birthright to Jacob.  “What is it to me?” he scoffs.  Everything. Immediately, after the stew disappears, he regrets his decision and despises his birthright.  This all takes place in the second half of Genesis 25. 

{Skip over Chapter 26. If you read Genesis 26, you get the idea that Isaac and Rebekah never heard the story of Abram and Sarai pretending to be brother and sister and how well that turned out.  Because they pose that way for King Abimelech of Gerar, whose land they run to in order to escape the famine of their own land.  King Abi catches on, and berates him. He directs everyone to leave Isaac alone.  Taking advantage of the situation, Isaac plants crops there and stays on, due to a dream the Lord gave him about his descendants getting the land he’s now on. Doesn’t this sound familiar?  Abram, then Abraham, gets the same blessing.  Isaac hears it, too. And there’s stuff about wells.  Lots of wells. }

Back to Jacob.  In Chapter 27,  Isaac calls his son Esau to him and tells him he (Isaac) is an old man.  He wants to bless Esau before he dies.  He directs Esau to hunt some wild game, prepare it the way Issac likes it and he will give Esau his blessing (27:1-3).

Hot dog!  Esau is off like a shot.  But Rebekah heard it all.  Let’s just say it was a small tent. She runs and tells Jacob, “Look, I heard your father tell Esau to hunt something and kill it, prepare it and he would give Esau his blessing!  Now, you do what I say.  It’s not going down like that!” (27:5-10, Susan paraphrase). 

Jacob, thinking things through, is hesitant.  He knows he’s not hairy like Esau. He doesn’t want to get caught in a lie (notice, he doesn’t entirely say no to the plan) and get cursed instead of blessed (27:11-12).  Rebekah won’t let anything stand in her way for her favorite boy to get the blessing.  She volunteers to take the curse on herself (27:13).

Jacob does like his mom told him to.  He gets a goat (does it all taste like chicken at this point?).  Rebekah dresses him in Esau’s finest, along with goat skins on the back of his neck and hands.  Isaac is surprised at how quickly Esau returns with the food.  Isaac’s poor eyesight fails him and he second-guesses himself “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau”(27:22). 

But then the real lie.  “Are you really my son Esau?” (27:24).

Gulp.

“I am”, Jacob replied. 

Isaac blesses him, a short, eloquent 3-verse stanza about receiving of heaven’s dew and the earth’s richness, and of course, being lord over his brothers (dig, dig), and those who curse him being cursed, and those who bless him being blessed (27:27-29).

Right after this, Jacob leaves his father’s presence.  Esau returns.  He’s all set to get the blessing.  But Isaac, tricked and betrayed, gave the best away already.  He tells Esau this.  Esau protests loudly, citing Jacob’s deception in “taking” his birthright that he actually “sold” to Jacob, and how stealing the blessing.  Isn’t there a blessing left for a weeping, grown, hairy man? (27:35-39). 

Isaac dredges up a blessing fit for man not in God’s favor. Esau will dwell “away from earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven…but when you grow restless, you will throw his (Jacob’s) yoke from your neck” (27:39-40).

The story does not end happily.  Esau holds a grudge and plots to kill Jacob, after the time of mourning Isaac’s death ends.  Jacob runs away to Rebekah’s brother’s house, Jacob’s Uncle Laban in Haran.  He can return when Esau is no longer angry at Jacob.  Rebekah will send word.  She covers Jacob’s departure by telling Isaac she wants him to pick a wife from somewhere else not “these Hittite women” (27:41-46).  Isaac agrees, under the circumstances, and sends Jacob out with a blessing.  Esau, out of spite and due to the small-tent syndrome, marries a Canaanite woman (28:6-9).

To me, this is a most heinous story.  I hate that Jacob gets blessed by deceiving his father and his brother.  And yet, from the very beginning, God ordained Jacob to be favored over Esau.  Why?  He inherits the family traits of lying and deception, generations of “taking care of number one” tactics and still gets blessed?  What in the world?  Is Esau such a bad guy?

 I can’t justify the means and I am definitely against parental favoritism. But I think that God knew how Jacob would turn out.   The little boy, shunned by his father and favored by his mother, would turn into a tenacious man, always after the best, yes, but willing to pay for it.  He later works to earn the hand of the beautiful Rachel, his cousin and then wife, for 14 years, through wage changes and a trick marriage to her older sister by his (surprise!) deceptive employer, Uncle Laban.   He has 12 sons who go on to become the 12 tribes of Israel, Jacob’s new name.  Jacob wrestles an angel  at Peniel and won’t let go until the angel blesses him. Israel means “he struggles with God”.  In this sense, we all need to “struggle with God” to get the blessing God promised us from the beginning. It becomes the making of us.

Starting Over

I learned something new today:  running and crying don’t mix.  Well, neither do running and singing, but that’s another story.

Most of you have heard by now that Jonathon’s almost-job with the company that hinted (strongly) at relocation has fallen through.  They don’t want to relocate anyone after all.  And there’s not enough business in Washington state to support the position they originally interviewed him for. 

Insert your favorite expletive here.

It all came down with an email that showed up in Jonathon’s inbox while we were watching “Real Steel” as a family.  It said that he would be kept in mind for future positions in Washington.  Jonathon, trooper that he is, took it much better than I did.  I was angry. Just like that, we were dropped.

I don’t like being jerked around.  Okay, we don’t like being jerked around.  But this is what happens when you’re one-flesh.  It’s not just a singleton anymore; it’s two people.  Also, in our case, a family to consider.

 My mom told me the company was acting “weinerish” (her word) and that made me laugh. A couple of friends chatted with me this morning and that helped. My stepmom and  sister-in-law encouraged me with their uplifting words about looking forward to God’s adventure for us and that He has better for us.  And that helped, too.

But my heart is stubborn.  I’ve been called tenacious, persistent, and all the positive adjectives, but the negative apply, too.  I knew I needed to move on.  So I cleaned the downstairs bathroom and vacuumed the stairs, until it fell down the stairs and decapitated itself. Again.

I almost skipped running today.  I put Darrell Evans on my mp3 player.  I ran with him, or rather, he ran with me.  I stepped outside into the frosty air, the temperature hovering right above freezing.  The sky, in marbled shades of gray and white, matched my mood:  the heart of winter.  Patches of snow and ice still dotted the landscape and sidewalks, making mini-moguls to dodge.  I charged up the hill, intending to go slowly.  Folks, I can’t run slowly.  I run the same pace, all the time, unless I’m doing intervals and stuff.  But halfway up the hill I had to stop.  I couldn’t see anymore.  I must’ve looked like I was having an allergy attack. 

And, though this was my longest run in probably 5 months, it was not continuous.  Several times I had to stop and walk.  My leg cramped up a bit.  My heart cried, “What’s the point, anyway?  Who cares?” and various other whiny, self-pitying exclamations.  My heart felt impaled on the sharp spear of disappointment. But feelings are not reality.  I acknowledged the thoughts and feelings, then let them go.

Somewhere around mile 4, things turned.  The run felt like a prayer, like the sweat pouring off my face was all the tears I could not shed.  I was no longer sad.  I looked at the trees and ice and leftover snow and thought, Let’s do this.  It’s not over.  God’s not done and neither am I.

By the end of the run I was on to Kirk Franklin’s “Today”.  Today, let’s help somebody.  Let’s take the focus off ourselves and onto helping others. Let’s exchange our will for His will.  Just like the sparring bot that makes good in “Real Steel”, we were built to take the hits, the pummeling of rotten circumstances, over and over.  Life is a series of hits and the question becomes, Will you get back up again?

Moving on.

Bait & Switch

So…

I was all set to pick up blogging on the Bible again.  But then something happened.  The company Jonathon had 6 interviews with almost offered him a position.

Out of state.  Relocation imminent.

Needless to say, we were not happy about this turn of events.  Nothing of the job being contingent upon moving away from all you know was mentioned in the interviews.  In interview #4, some mention was made of taking over part of the territory of the rep who does the maintenance on Oregon contracts.  Jonathon would pick up the Portland area in addition to all of Washington.

This is not that.

I feel a little betrayed.  I mean, he was just there in freakin’ Utah.  Couldn’t they have discussed that option then?  The guy who sprang this mindbender on him said, “I really like you.  I have areas that need you more.  Would you consider relocation?”  But then, he had to go. He would email the details later, secret-agent style.  Tease!

This feels like seeing an ad for a new car.  You love the car!  It’s shiny, sleek and red (okay, my weakness).  And you go to the car dealership.  But lo, there are no red cars anywhere.  Not even on this side of the Mississippi.  You have been tricked, my friend.   Duped.  Double-crossed. You buy the beige sedan and sigh morosely every time you buckle up.

I am thinking of my Personal Finance class in freshman year of high school.  We learned about “caveat emptor”, buyer beware.  In other words besides Latin, it means “look out when you buy something, because no one else is going to.”  We also talked about the “bait & switch” tactic, similar to the example above.  Only in that case, you pay for a Rolls Royce and get a Gremlin.  All unknowingly, of course.

I will confess that part of me loves adventure and scoping out new places.  This 5 years + is the longest we’ve lived anywhere. I have a touch of wanderlust, not to be confused with schadenfreude.  Part of me would love to start over fresh somewhere.  Set up a new house, learn a new neighborhood,make new friends.  Hey, live in a sunny climate for once! Live in a sunny place, or a big city.  I told Jonathon I would consider California, Hawaii or France.  Is that too narrow?

Then I am quickly snapped back to reality with the fact that we’d know no one.  My family, for the most part, is in this area.  We have a lot of great friends here.  We are heavily involved in our church and a lot of our friends are part of that, too.  Our kids have friends in the community and grandparents nearby.  I want that for them, and for us.  My brother’s kids and our kids are getting to grow up together.  I like that. And how would I survive without my kettlebell torture sessions?!

Finally, I come back to God.  He knows all these things.  He’s not going to lead me where He isn’t.  If we do leave, He will guide us and protect us. He will help us make a new start.  We will keep in touch with old friends and make new ones.  We will visit family and they will visit us.  It would be a new chapter, and not the end of the book. 

So now, we wait.

FAQs

No flowers were harmed in the making of this blog.

I thought maybe it was time to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)that come to me from the readers.  Here they are, in no particular order.

Q:  Are you a midget?
A:  No.  But I played one on TV.

Q:  Would you like me to send you unsolicited advice? 
A:  No.  However, feel free to send dark chocolate.

Q:  If one train leave Pittsburgh at 3:00 on a Tuesday, going 45 mph in an easterly direction, and another train leaves Cleveland at 2:00 on that same Tuesday, going 30 mph in a westerly direction, when will they collide? 
A:  Who are these people?! I have no idea. Look at a map?  Or maybe take a plane, just to be safe.

Q:  If you were stuck on a deserted island with one book, one choice of food and one toy, what would they be? 
A:  Hmm…Okay.  The Bible.  Pepperoni, black olive and sausage pizza.  And a gun.  The pizza won’t last forever, right?

Q:  Do you have any pets? 
A:  Yep.  A pair of black cats and a black guinea pig.  We’re all about matching.

Q:  Were you a child prodigy? 
A:  (shuffles toe in dirt, hunches shoulders) Nope.  And I’m not an adult one, either.

Q:  Do you have any siblings? 
A:  I have a brother and two stepsisters. And there is no truth to the rumor that I used to beat my brother up on a regular basis.

Q: What’s on your “bucket list”? 
A:  Running (and finishing) a marathon, rhinoplasty, seeing all the “Love” series movies inspired by Janette Oke novels back-to-back.  Thank you, Hallmark Channel!

Q:  If you could go back in time and say one thing to your younger self, what would it be? 
A:   You will have boyfriends.  You will not get little white marks on your teeth from not brushing them every minute while you have braces.  Your voice matters. 

Q:  Does Jonathon have a job yet? 
A:  Hey, this is about me!  And no.  Not yet.

Q:  You love running.  What advice would you give to someone starting out? 
A:  Go slowly.  Walk a lot.  Run a little.  Amby Burfoot has a great book out on this subject.  Running is at least 80% mental.  If you think you can and you’re not in excruciating pain, you can.  Sometimes even if you are, you still can.  If you live close to me, maybe we can run together sometime.

Q: If you weren’t a Christian, what religion would you most align yourself with? 
A:  If I lived in an ancient culture, thousands of years ago, definitely a sun worshiper.  I need it!  Otherwise, probably something of my own concocting.  More interesting that way.  A little bit of this, a little bit of that…”Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble”..

Q:  What are the best and worst things about being a mother: 
A:  Wow, that’s a tough one!  The best thing is probably seeing your child grow and develop into the person they were meant to be, and to know you had a hand in that.  I love seeing the kids excel at things, get excited about activities or hobbies. Sometimes they’re things Jonathon or I like to do, too. I also enjoy seeing them handle tough situations with grace. The worst is when they’re hurt, either physically or emotionally, and you can do nothing to fix it except apply a band-aid either out of the box or of physical affection.

Q:  What are you most looking forward to for the rest of your life? 
A:  Staying married to Jonathon and growing old(er) together.  We need a porch swing!  Continuing to grow as an individual and discovering new possibilities in this life, new friendships and loving Jesus.  Watching the kids grow up and become parents themselves (God willing), and seeing them fulfill their destinies.  I want to suck the marrow out of life, every day.

Choosing To Be Gay?

The new spokeswoman for choice?

I’ve thought about this topic for a long, long time.  I have had good friends who are gay.  I’ve known some who said they knew they were gay, early on, but kept it hidden.  And some who only discovered such a bent during adulthood.  They’re from all walks of life, not just the traditional artistic professions.

But then…Cynthia Nixon.  She, former star of HBO’s hit show “Sex And The City”, outed herself in 2004.  She’d previously been in a 15-year monogamous relationship with a man.  They’d had 2 children together.  A year after the breakup, she announced her homosexual proclivities and her new love.  You can read the full CBS article at the bottom of this page.  She states that, and I quote, “I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay.  Gay is better.”

That’s a hefty statement.  Why?  What does that even mean? Do you get more “atta girls” for being gay?  If you were born this way, why should you get more kudos for just being yourself?  It seems like a conflicted message.  I don’t get “atta girls” for staying continually attracted to males.  Maybe I should.

She goes on to say, “For me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me,” she said.  So, you can choose to be gay?  This is really getting confusing. The LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgenders) were up in arms over this statement.  They firmly believe that you do not choose, you simply are.

I’ve often been fascinated by this.  Ellen.  Wanda Sykes.  Lily Tomlin.  Rosie O’Donnell. All comedians, and all, admittedly, gay.  They were born funny, or learned to be funny.  I still remember Wanda Sykes’ routine on how men and women think, women keeping track of the things men do wrong, like a little icon on your computer…It was so right on.

Because I’m a Christian, I will admit this is a sore subject with me.  I agree with the Pauline writings on this subject:  homosexuality is wrong.  But I believe the Church as a whole has treated the issue, and the people, poorly.  I confess I’m not even sure how to “love the sinner, hate the sin”.  It so often ends up being “hate the sinner and the horse he rode in on”.  People are people, and are always God’s first priority.  I continue to work on it.

If we throw in the whole “you can choose to be gay” argument, then it stands to reason that you can “opt out” of being gay.  Cynthia Nixon decided to no longer be “straight” with her longtime partner.  Was it a rebound move? Will she do the same with this newer gal, and their son that her partner birthed, leaving them?  It remains to be seen.  It seems…unstable to me.  Do you trust this person when they say they want to marry you (and Nixon and her partner are engaged)?  What if some super handsome guy, reeking with sexual chemistry, comes along and sweeps you off your feet?  Does your gayness evaporate like so much condensation?

Cynthia does not like being called bisexual.  “Nobody likes the bisexuals”, she growls.  But isn’t that what she is?  It’s a subset of the gay group that “doesn’t get any respect”.  So now there are hierarchies within the gay community? Is it because they haven’t chosen one sex to be with, forever, and have lingering opposite-sex attractions?  That seems to make them more “mainstream” in certain seasons.  I admit, I’m on the outside looking in, being fully heterosexual.

I do know some people who are homosexual have been molested. Forced early sexual experiences pushed them that direction.  And yet, I also believe this whole issue of human sexuality is complicated, at least to us. It’s multi-faceted and layered and convoluted.  It’s been bathed in rhetoric and politics and is tied inexorably to our identity.  But it’s not mysterious to God.  I think what I’m trying to say is that maybe some of the ministries helping people to “put aside” their homosexuality aren’t so bad.  I mean, if you can choose to be gay (like Cynthia), you can also choose not to be.  Right?

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31749_162-57365588-10391698/cynthia-nixon-says-shes-gay-by-choice/

9 to 5

All this job hunting, interviewing and talking about jobs has made me remember a few stories…

Though I’ve had tough bosses, I’ve had a couple of nice ones.  The very nicest was at the Ch2MHill Food Group.  I know, a mouthful!  It was a starter company, engineering food processing plants.  They bought out a company from Pocatello, ID, and moved the key staff to Portland. We borrowed resources (manpower, blueprinting services) from our sister company, IDC which was only 4 blocks away. In addition, we had flex-time and a company shower in the basement.  I started running for real while working this job.  My co-workers coerced me!

It was a quirky, chauvinistic group, if I may be so bold.  I heard a bit about how women were less intelligent than men and should remain barefoot and pregnant.  There was a bit of racism as well.  Tip:  never make racist jokes about blacks and watermelon on a live conference call.  You never know how your client will take it.  Despite that, we worked well together and made it great.  Disclaimer:  my boss did not make that observation.

My boss, Jim, was busy flying hither and yon, drumming up new clients.  He was instrumental in getting Kikkoman Foods on board for a second plant in the United States.  Jim and his co-founder, Scott, set up monthly staff meetings.  These were not your typical meeting.  We had food, beer and wine and some straight talk about the food industry and what was coming down next.  He treated all of us like we mattered.  He even took me aside one day and said there was no way he could do my job.  All the tracking and hustling…he was so very glad I got hired.

It made my day. Heck, it made my year.  I got a 30% raise that year.  My experience in the engineering world had been, up to that point:  no news is good news. You may never get any feedback.  And if you do get feedback, it’ll probably be negative.  Certain things were expected of you and if you were doing them, you would be left alone.  You might get some positive feedback at your annual review, which, by the way, would be at least 3 months late.

After we moved back to Portland, it was time for me to go back to work full-time. The economy in 2001 was just as bad as it is right now.  I networked with old contacts and applied for things and contacted a couple of agencies. I interviewed for a lumber import company, a position a staffing agency found for me. I would be tracking containers of wood aboard tankers, in cubic board feet.  The wood was imported from Scandinavia. Don’t ask me why we were importing lumber into Oregon, where we practically tripped over trees (or, pre-lumber) every day. I did learn the difference between a regular container and a large container and improved my 10-key skills.

The sales side, selling lumber to places like Home Depot and such, didn’t like the admin side, composed of accounting, tracking, etc. There was so much hostility in the room it should have been listed on the inventory. My boss seemed nice enough. Too bad she didn’t like women. I could do nothing right.  I lasted 6 weeks before I quit.  Some things are not for sale, like my sanity.

My very worst boss, though, was Earl*.  Earl was the program manager for a contract Aspen had with the Energy Trust of Oregon.  We offered incentives forenergy-efficient solutions for businesses and industries.  Earl was a Christian.  We had several spiritual conversations over the 2 years I worked for him.  But he didn’t seem to ever get past the carnal stage.  I won’t tell you his worst transgressions, but here are just a few.

Context? The Oregonian reported on former Portland mayor Neil Goldschmidt’s “affair” with a 14-year-old girl while he was in office, more than 30 years before. Neil was 30 years old at the time. Earl brought it up.  Protesting, I shook my head and said, “No!  We’re not talking about this!” There were at least 2 women in the room, myself included. My words were unheeded. Sitting there, in a goodbye party for a colleague, eating pizza and salad with all the staff (all 7 of us), Earl asked aloud, “Don’t you think 14-year-old girls are more physically mature than when we were teenagers?  I mean, with their clothes off?”

What?!

Macy’s bought out Meier & Frank.  We worked in a building kitty-corner from Nordstrom.  Macy’s was down a couple of blocks. Earl, on hearing about the new store:  “Susan, you can check it out for me.  Isn’t that like your mothership?  You can buy me new underwear.”

What?!

To his credit, after that last crack, he did look chagrined.  “That was inappropriate, right?”

Yes, Earl.  It was.

I haven’t had a female boss in a long time.  I have one now.  I’m looking forward to working with her. I’ve profiled the very best and the very worst, but most bosses fall somewhere in the middle.  They each have things to teach us.  Think before you speak, and if you do speak, kindness should be the rule. That person making coffee or filing papers is just as much a person as you are and deserves your respect.  And if you don’t treat them well, you might be the fodder for some great stories.

*Name has been changed to protect the guilty.