The "Am I the Asshole?" Subreddit is a wonderful place where anxious individuals can ask the broader public for a second opinion about whether or not they are actually the asshole in this particular situation. Consider the case of one remarkable post made on Monday about someone who was accused by a co-worker of perpetuating ethnic stereotypes about the orange cat that lives in their office.
You can click through and read the post yourself, or check the screenshots below, but the basic summary is this: The office has two worksite cats, a clever tortoiseshell feline named Jean and younger, newer orange cat named Jorts, who is, according to the OP, "dumb af." One of the OP's co-workers took it upon herself to try and train young Jorts so as not to be a total idiot; this training regime included assigning training tasks to other co-workers, burdening them with animal care duties beyond the scope of their actual job descriptions, and occasionally setting up such tests as to make poor Jean go without food or get locked in a closet for a day.
Naturally, at some point, there was a confrontation, where the OP said "You can't expect Jean's tortoiseshell smarts from orange cat Jorts." At which point, the colleague — who is white — flipped out, broke down, and demanded that the OP attend racial sensitivity training for "perpetuating ethnic stereotypes by saying orange cats are dumb."
But wait! There's more!
In a follow-up post, the OP divulged even more information about the allegedly-racist drama surrounding Jorts The Stupid Orange Cat. The company's HR department got involved, and informed the colleague that actually, you don't have the authority to assign cat-training duties to your co-workers. Among the plethora of other revelations, two points in particular stuck out to me:
- The colleague had also apparently been smearing margarine all over poor Jorts, in an effort to encourage the idiotic feline to take better care of his coat. This may have left the other cat, Jean, with a serious case of diarrhea. The Human Relations Department at the company has since instated a policy saying that the colleague may not apply margarine to any of her coworkers. (There was apparently some debate about organizational structure and who, exactly, the cats are expected to report to in the company hierarchy.)
- There were apparently 5 employees at the company who refused to get vaccinated. The workplace drama around the cats lead to some other policies, including a restriction on unvaccinated visitors to the building where Jorts and Jean reside. The threat of not being able to see the cats actually inspired 4 of those 5 people to get vaccinated.
In conclusion: buttering Jorts the cat is not racist, though it's still not a great idea. Also please get vaccinated.
Photo: actually Jorts and Jean, via Reddit