Last night I attended a happy hour with former colleagues. I found that I liked them better as former colleagues. We laughed, we gossiped, we drank. Well, to be fair, I drank. A lot. And so did my former boss who is also my life coach/mentor/substitute parent/friend/etc. The other two women were not drinking: one was breastfeeding and the other is not a drinker. This trivial detail becomes significant later.  

So we're sitting at a four-top table and I'm sitting across from my former boss. She's telling a hilarious story about attending a party at a couple's house, this couple being of the 22-year-old variety and recently married. She's getting louder, the story is getting funnier, and the wine is freely flowing.  

She is attempting to tell a story about a dog jumping up on the dining room table and eating from a bowl full of potato chips. The host's response to this? To shoo the dog away and turn the bowl of potato chips around so that the non-contaminated chips were the closest to the guests. Gross, right? Hilarious, no? No. Because in the middle of this story, my boss shares that these were barbeque potato chips. As soon as this detail slips her lips one coworker (The one who was breastfeeding. The white one who lives in a log cabin.) interrupts and shouts, "Barbeque potato chips?? What is up with that? Who serves barbeque potato chips at a party? No offense." You guessed it. The "No offense" part was addressed directly to the fourth coworker (The one who does not drink. The one who, yes, is African American). She may as well have said, "Barbeque potato chips are so pedestrian and declasse. What kind of barbarian would serve them? I am looking right at you and clearly intending this for you, black coworker, but I hope you don't turn into an angry black lady and yell at me."  

Perhaps at any other table there would have been an awkward silence, some tut-tutting, a diversion in the form of a magic trick. This was not any other table, however. This was our table. And I want you to remember how much wine the rest of us had consumed. I'm not going to tell you exactly how much. I'm going to tell you it was enough wine to make you want to send cryptic text messages to old boyfriends from a toilet stall, but not quite enough to make you call them and leave messages about how you've moved on and you never loved them anyway. That's not how you react when you're drunk? Then you're not doing it right.  

At any rate, the barbeque potato chips comment is uttered. I react with some kind of wine spit-take and a loud "What the f-ck, coworker?!" (Ok, I may have just looked at her sharply) while my loud, life coach/former boss turns, yells, "Do you have any other racist sterotypes you'd like to put on the table or can I move on with my story?" We laugh. She cringes. The story moves forward while she-of-the-sterotype-perpetuating sheepishly tries to interject that she's not racist. Note to universe: If you find yourself explaining that you're not a racist, you are. And frankly, it's horrible to watch. It's like having to listen to a 22 year-old boy with Lady Gaga ringtones try to explain to you that he's not gay.  

Moral of this story: 1) Do not spend time with coworkers outside of work unless there is alcohol involved (for everyone). 2) Delete phone numbers of potential DDRs (Drunk Dial Recipients) PRIOR to arriving at the bar. 3) Never let a ridiculous comment go unpunished. and 4) Perhaps most important of all: when attending a party never eat a soggy potato chip.

Leave a Reply.