It was Monday morning, and all of us were seated on folding chairs in the shop, facing the open bay door. Shoemaker, the shop superintendent, had called an impromptu meeting before the crews took off to go to their respective job sites.
“The owner, Benito, asked me to gather everyone together this morning to discuss something very important,” Shoemaker said, stroking his goatee and pacing back and forth. “The company has gotten a lot of complaints lately. Apparently, some team members have been whistling at women while driving company vehicles.”
I looked at Juan and Slim. Both of them were staring at their laps, examining their hands, as if they’d never catcalled in their entire lives.
“As we all should know,” Shoemaker continued, “whistling at women is inappropriate behavior. Not only that, but it’s sexual harassment. And when we make disparaging sounds at members of the general public, it reflects poorly on our company’s image.”
“Unlike our 30-year-old vehicles,” someone called out. (It might have been me.)
Shoemaker stopped grooming his goatee mid-stroke. “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” He continued to pace. “Because of these complaints, we’re going to spend an hour this morning undergoing sexual-harassment training. I’m passing out pamphlets now. Please take one and pass them back.”
I raised my hand. “Can I ask a question?”
Everyone turned to look at me. Shoemaker closed his eyes and sighed. “Yes. Go ahead, Peter.”
“Are you going to be administering the training this morning?” I asked.
Shoemaker tugged at his goatee. “Yes. As the shop superintendent, it’s my responsibility to ensure all employees are appropriately trained.”
“OK,” I said. “And just so we’re clear, you’re also the one who wallpapered the shop bathroom with all those Penthouse spreads last week. Correct?”
The entire company laughed. Shoemaker’s face turned red.
“Everyone turn to page 1 in your pamphlets,” he said, casting his gaze downward. “Maybe we all can learn something this morning.”