Top Ten Thursday - Speaking Up

Welcome back to Top Ten Thursday!

Being assertive is hard. At least for me. So listing the top ten situations I enforced my point, spoke up, stood up for myself, for somebody else or for the right thing, will be difficult to say the least. That's why it's called a challenge, though, right?

A real life friend posted a picture of two boys sitting at a restaurant table, nice setting, tablecloths, champagne glasses, the whole nine yards. Both kids were playing with their tablets. Comments were all like "that's terrible, electronics are messing with their development, can't they read a book, what kind of parents tranquillise their kids with gadgets?" On and on they went. I was the only one saying "what's the big deal, it looks like this is going to be a lengthy meal, and the alternative to quietly playing with their electronic toy is to be fidgeting, fighting, yelling, getting away from the table and chasing each other,... - and I can't wait to hear the fellow patrons comment what kind of parents can't manage to have their kids sit there without annoying the other guests?"

I did, however, refrain from participating in the annual online debate whether celebrating Halloween in Switzerland was appropriate or not. Pointless. I am determined to enjoy this holiday and not allow killjoy people to spoil my fun!

Another friend had an argument with her 9yo son, yes, the same age as Colin. Her boy wants to do a craft for which he needs supplies. After lunch the mom asked him to put his plate into the dishwasher and get ready to leave for the store. He didn't feel like doing that simple chore, so she said, "look, it's up to you, you do your part, I do mine." While one friend complimented her on actually not going to the store, many others criticised her for asking a kid to do housework. I couldn't believe my eyes : is it too much to ask the kids to do minor tasks around the house now??? And I said so.

At the train station Colin had to go to the bathroom. It seemed pretty urgent. Public restrooms at train stations have installed doors with an equipment you need money for. Usually it's 50 Cents or 1 Franc = Dollar. They use it to pay their cleaning ladies who make a trip to the public bathroom an enjoyable experience. That day it was 1.50, and luckily I did have enough coins to pay for his entrance fee. While I was waiting for him to come back out, I witnessed two guys who didn't even check their wallet and were instead trying to trick the device by waving their jacket beyond the sensor. It wouldn't open. Colin was done and walked toward the door. Of course they snuck by him, and I couldn't help myself. "You're a bunch of a**holes, don't you think the rules apply to everyone? Plus you're setting a really bad example!" As was I, of course, yelling at them using the worst words. Still, it needed to be said.

A non-Swiss friend was invited to a job interview in Switzerland. The recruiter asked about her children, how many did she have, and how old were they? While her original question "why would they even ask this, and would they ask a man the same questions?" was legit, her other expat friends chimed in "how is this even relevant", " that is an illegal line of questioning and you could sue them for discrimination" and "coming from someplace where it's considered discriminatory to ask such things, even though I know it happens, still pisses me off." 
So I went hard-core employer bitch on them and let them know we don't have those strict data protection and discrimination laws around here and actually expect applicants to volunteer info like their dob, address and children. If they don't, we ask, what's the big deal? Where are we supposed to send the contract to if there is no address? They're entitled to family allowance, 200 bucks per kid in our state - but only if you present documentation. Retirement fonds work per age group, so we need to know how much to deduct from your salary (and double the amount on the house, btw.)

A coworker was invited by a vendor to a car race at Nürburgring, a 17 miles long Grand Prix race track in Germany. As I was processing days off and other payroll relevant data on a Sunday (just having gotten back from vacation, making sure people were getting paid on time) I assumed this was a fun day as opposed to business related. Clearly there weren't any workshops held? Plus there was free food and beer, so clearly he was having a grand time, and good for him to get this opportunity - but not on our time.  So I deducted a vacation day from his balance which of course showed up on his payslip. He confronted me about it, and I said forget it, why should this be paid working time, it's not that we can bill those hours to a client now, can we? He threatened to never represent our company with a vendor again. His loss! PS: he complained about it with hubby/boss and I had to give him his vacation day back. Well, I tried.

My coworker is on vacation. I need to work more. So I either work, make snacks and meals, do laundry, drive to and from hockey practice or (try to) sleep. Anyway. My coworker is this proverbial angel who works so hard and without attracting attention that people only notice she's gone when she's gone. Sh** doesn't get done. Sh** like taking out the trash. Trash mainly from the guys' lunches like empty take-away containers. After a couple of days the bag starts to a) overflow and b) smell. I noticed. I was wondering whether I was the only one. I just knew it wasn't going to be me who takes care of it. I bring my lunch in a re-usable Tupperware box. Plus I am not their maid. So what happened is somebody just started a new bag that is sitting next to the full one. Nobody cared to close it, so if it falls over, the floor is going to be a mess. Again, not my problem, I figured. Today the hubby/ boss) approaches me and asks "do you think somebody should take the trash out?" I wholeheartedly agreed. "Allright", he walked away. "Wait a minute, define, somebody because I don't see why it should be me!" We argued for a while, he suggested if I didn't wanna do it I should put some of the guys in charge. I suggested he should be the one to appoint someone. Seriously!! right this moment above race car coworker walks into the office. Bad timing, my friend, take out the trash time for you ;-)


Back when I was working for the airline after my maternity leave I got a new boss. We were very different personalities, and we didn't get along well. I cared about people, he cared about processes and strategies. I needed my freedom, and he micro-managed me. Anyway. As I worked part-time and wasn't there every day, he sometimes he had to actually talk to people who worked for the warehouse and other blue collar jobs, which clearly caused discomfort to him. Without facts checking or listening to the proverbial other side, he signed a pink slip for someone and left for an off-site coaching seminar with his phone switched off. When the guy in question heard about being fired for no comprehensable reason, he called me, desperate. As it turned out he was bagged by a supervisor who never even worked the same shifts, so how was he supposed to assess the guy's performance? I started investigating and talking to a lot of people, and to cut the long story short I convinced everybody, my boss included, to keep the guy on board on probation, if he really was that terrible, they could fire him in a month's time, otherwise he'd get a fixed contract. That was six years ago, the guy still works there - unlike my boss, I recently read he got a new position and is now annoying people elsewhere! If you think you've read this before, you're right, this paragraph has been repurposed from a recent one.

As you can see I have to dig deep in my memories. This subject is really hard for me, but here goes: One of my bosses with Starbucks - probably the most liberal employer one could wish for - was low in integrity and high in homophobia. All the time he was approaching me suggesting we'd demote or even fire certain people. He didn't even try hard to hide the fact that them being gay made him feel uncomfortable. Only when I pointed out that treating them unfairly might actually make himself vulnerable, he was backing out. 

If you dig deep enough (or consult your old posts) stuff resurfaces: I was probably 9 or 10 years old. A mean boy had taken my girlfriend's bracelet and thrown it down a manhole. Then he laughed hysterically and ran away. She was very shy and didn't know what to do. I, however, felt called to do something about it. I couldn't confront him face to face because he was taller and stronger, plus he had a knife. Right - that's the kind of classmates we had, lovely! So I wrote a letter. Yeah, l was quite the little writer early on! It said something like this:

Dear Mrs F,
Your son M thought it was a good idea to… (insert the whole lengthy story).
Now may I kindly ask you to see that things will be put straight!
(insert illegible signature I had been practicing)

I put the letter in an envelope and left it in their mailbox. 

It didn't take long, and Mrs F called my mother. She apologized on behalf of her son and assured her that the boy's father would open that manhole and get the bracelet out. Of course my mom didn't know what the lady was talking about. Mrs F said "What you've told me in that letter!" Mom made her read it to her and laughed and laughed. "That wasn't me, that was my daughter!" Now Mrs F got mad "way to tell other people to do the right thing but to deny having written a letter yourself! I know how kids in elementary school write. Your daughter did not write this! No kid has such neat handwriting either!"
PS: M rang my girlfriend's door bell that night, mumbled sorry and handed her the bracelet.

I was going to admit that I failed at this topic. I am too freaking peace-loving and non-confrontional. But then the stubborn me said "you are not going to post a Top Ten Thursday if you can't actually come up with ten points - what would be the point in that?" So this is my number ten. Sorry guys. I cheated. Plus I'm late, too. Had to help our Elf on the Shelf to becharm some cupcakes. Stay tuned, I'll blog about it.

So I didn't save the world, and I didn't come face to face with a certain White House inmate who definitely should be put in place, but I kind of stood my ground. 

How about you? What did you do or say? Let me know in the comments down below or link up your own post.

What's next? December 7, let's talk art! What are your top ten favorite pieces of art, I'm thinking paintings, classical music, sculptures, literature, theater plays, operas,... We like to call them the brown subject (playing Trivial Pursuit, blue is for geography, pink is used for entertainment, green means science, yellow is history, orange stands for sports, and brown represents, well, "culture".) Sign up here.

December 14 With Christmas only ten days ago let's discuss our personal dos and don'ts of the Holiday Season. Is writing Christmas cards a must or a waste of time and money? Say "merry Christmas" or "happy Holidays"? Fake joy for a gift you hate? Re-gift a gift you hate? Be nice just because it's Christmas or risk a fight? 

Here's the link to the Facebook event. Use it to sign up so I know you plan on joining us! Bring a friend, too!