Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Cussin’ Like Sailors at the Office

Recently I was involved in an interesting discussion with a few friends. The topic was profanity in the workplace. It seems that each of us in this small group deals with a work environment where some, if not most, coworkers use profanity as if they’re getting paid five bucks every time they drop an F-bomb.

If that payment plan actually were true, I know a few guys who would be millionaires by Thursday morning. The thing is, these guys are not anti-social outlaws from the seedy underbelly of American society. They are professionals, who often wear suits and ties and attend high-powered meetings in fancy corporate conference rooms. It’s just that at some point in the recent past, it became acceptable in our culture for folks in all walks of life to talk like the characters in a Martin Scorsese gangster movie. Or maybe someone really is paying five bucks a pop for every F-bomb. In that case, how do I get a piece of the action?
Anyway, my small group of friends and I get together on a semi-regular basis to study the Bible before the work day begins. So, in addition to the ubiquitous F-bomb, there was concern about the frequent usage of the JC-bomb, the GD-bomb, and the really offensive JFC-bomb, which is a stunning blend of crudity and sacrilege.

Some of the members of the small group offered helpful advice. For example, one young lady explained that whenever a coworker shouts “Jesus Christ!” in an angry, profane way, she calmly but firmly finishes the sentence by saying, “…is Lord.” Eventually the person catches on and the JC-bombs stop.

Unfortunately, I was unable to add much to the discussion, since I am a workplace chameleon. That is, I adapt to my environment. If everyone in a particular sales meeting is cussing like a sailor, then I suddenly become a Seaman Second Class and join the festivities.

It’s not like I would earn a million bucks by Thursday morning. But I probably could accumulate enough five-dollar bills by Friday afternoon to go on a nice vacation.

I try to convince myself that my salty language is all right, because I am not offending anyone. And I do make a point of not cursing like Robert De Niro discussing the president whenever I’m in the presence of people who would not approve, such as my wife, my mother, or my parish priest. But when I really think about it, I know my rationalization is just a load of bull— Oops, I almost went there. I mean, a load of, um, malarkey.
I’m not sure what your particular work environment is like. I used to think my experiences occurred only in the HVAC industry. But I’ve shared my thoughts with other people in recent months, and it seems foul-mouthed workplaces are present in every industry.

There has got to be something we can do about this situation. Maybe the key is the silly quip I made earlier: “five bucks.” However, instead of paying someone $5 every time they curse, how about we institute a workplace challenge: every time someone drops a profane bomb, he or she has to put five dollars in a “cuss jar.” At the end of the week, the money can be used to buy canned goods to be donated to a homeless shelter. Or if your office is like mine, at the end of the week there should be enough money to buy a Ferrari.
I think this is a great idea. Except for one thing: it’s now the time of year to gather with family and friends and watch my favorite heart-warming Christmas movie, “Die Hard.” Maybe Bruce Willis can say, “Yippee-ki-yay, brother trucker.”

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