bio_dave_hingsburgerSometimes been a professional, while being different, can be a difficult thing. I know that I have to maintain a professional bearing but I also know that I have to stand up for myself whenever I can when facing ignorance or prejudice. Let me give you an example:

Last week I was on the phone with someone, a business call, discussing things of some importance. A joke was made, something simple, and we both laughed. Then the caller said, “You know the weird thing, you really don’t have a fat voice.”

I’m going to pause here, in a way that I couldn’t on the phone and say: WHAT? What the hell is a fat voice? For that matter, what is a skinny voice? Do these things exist? Is there a measure I don’t know about. Can my voice be weighed? All this to say, WHAT?

But what I said, without pause, was, wait for this witty rejoinder, “Pardon?” The surprise in my voice was no deterrent to my caller, “Yeah, you really don’t have a fat voice. If I didn’t know you were really fat, I’d never know by talking to you.” Now there was a pause. “Oh, I hope you don’t mind me mentioning your weight, I’ve heard you lecture and joke about it so I thought it wouldn’t be an issue for you.”

I’m going to pause again, like I couldn’t on the phone, and say that while its true that I do make jokes about weight in my lectures, my jokes aren’t typically about ‘my weight’ they are typically about people’s reaction to my weight. Even so, yes, I am comfortable with my weight, but I’m not really good about my body being discussed casually on a call. I don’t imagine that anyone, even skinny people, or muscular people, or any people of any type would feel comfortable with having their body become part of a work discussion. Anyways …

After the briefest of moments I asked, “What does a fat voice sound like anyways? I’ve never even thought about voices as being fat or not.” The caller said, “Well, you know kind of slow and maybe a little dumb.” Now, work or not, I have to speak up. “OK, I’d like to get back to the subject at hand. This conversation has made me very uncomfortable, and for the record, I think that prejudice sounds dumb, not voices.”

We had a brittle few minutes on the phone and finished up, the caller ended by saying, “I think I offended you but from your lectures I felt like I knew you a bit and that you wouldn’t be so thin skinned.” We signed off.

Now the caller knows about the texture and thickness of my skin … wonder if they got that from my voice too.