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I attended mandatory diversity training today. It is important that a person in my position be diversity trained because my average day is spent alone in my office in the basement reading, summarizing and analyzing legal arguments. 90% of the phone calls I receive are wrong numbers. The other 10% are my wife and kids calling me to come home for lunch or to drive someone to ballet or karate. Dealing with the public or pretty much anyone other than my boss is just outside of my job description.

So I wheedled my way into today's diversity training session instead of the one I signed up for because I have a cold and was not going to get much legal analysis done today. Better have a mandatory wasted afternoon on a day that is looking wasted from the get go.

Diversity training was completely mysterious. They never really got around to telling us that we cannot be mean to people because of their weight, religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, handicap or religion, but you can be mean to them because of pretty much anything else. Instead we played this game where you had to pick who you wanted to be of the people being profiled on the wall, and they revealed one characteristic of the person in each phase of the game. In the last phase, pretty much anyone you wanted to be was gay, dying of a disease, on their way to jail or working for the mafia. Fortunately, all along I wanted to be the 45 year old auto worker because he sounded the most like a disc golfer, and it turned out he won the lottery! All I learned from this is that I really don't want to be gay, dying of a disease, on my way to jail or working for the mafia, but winning the lottery would be bonus.

Throughout the session I was attentive, polite and involved. And I was very diverse in what I did not say. Our diversity trainer kept asking various women in the room if they had taken the class before because they looked familiar. I kept resisting the urge to say, "I'm sure all these white chicks look the same to you. I have the same problem."

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Comment by Bruce Brakel on May 19, 2008 at 1:56am
Mark is absolutely correct that I am not a nice person. Like auto mechanics, being nice is a very useful skill I have not mastered. I can fake it passably for a few hours at a time. My father was the same way. People used to always say to me, "Oh, you're Gene's son? He is such a NICE man," and I'd think, "Who, what?" I decided back then, rather than fake nice all day long at work and revert to form in spades with my wife and kids, I'd be a son-of-a-bitch generally, and fake nice with my wife and kids. They don't know. Don't tell them.

I had a diversity moment today, though. Kelsey and I were in a rush at the grocery store and all we needed was lemon juice. A nice black lady showed us where the lemon juice was and then disappeared while we were computing the per ounce on the big name brand versus the small store brand.

While we we're sprinting to the check outs we almost knocked down this shopper who turned out to be the same lady. She was wearing a bright red sweater. Race or gender had nothing to do with me previously mistaking her for a store clerk. If you don't want to be asked where things are in that store, you don't wear red tops. So Kelsey yelled, "Sorry," and I yelled, "She's genuinely sorry. I'm rude like this all the time."
Comment by mark ellis on May 17, 2008 at 9:35pm
Bruce, you are incapable of being nice to people you like ( I mean that in the nicest possible way). You can't even be nice to you. What chance do you have of being nice to strangers or people you don't like?

For the rest of you, some background info. Bruce is a dear friend who I like and respect except he is much smarter than I am. Bruce has also insulted me (and others) with unrestrained abandon and accuracy. It is important to keep in mind that Bruce is as hard on himself as anyone else and he just can't pass up the next easy slam.

So one day Bruce volunteers to caddy for me for a tournament round. I throw some terrible shot and Bruce does this evil laugh and says something like, "You used to be much better at this game. Are you too fat or too old to play well anymore?" One day Bruce may learn that some caddies get tips. Maybe with his new-improved-diversity-trained-attitude he can become somewhat socially acceptable.

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