Made Him Stronger

When I worked at MCI in the late 90s, they had what they called their “Hundred Years Plan.”  Any time they built or rented a building to house their telecommunication equipment, they insisted on having enough room to handle a projected hundred years worth of expansion.

MCI is out of business now. They went all-in on the Mexican market, and it bankrupted them. I suppose somebody is using that space for something completely different.

But while they existed, they were a very progressive company. They offered benefits to same-sex couples long before same-sex marriage became a reality. As a result they had a higher than average number of gay employees.

That doesn’t mean that the offices were without prejudice.

There’s one incident in particular that has stuck with me. I was in the break room having coffee with a gay coworker. He was dressed very fashionably, including a gorgeous pair of purple suede shoes.

An engineer walked by and said, just loud enough to be heard, “Phht, nice shoes.” You get that a lot in Texas, unprovoked passing aggression. I’m sure if we would have confronted him he would have responded with the usual “just joking” defense. He lobbed his insult and kept moving.

The coworker looked up at me from his coffee and said, “When I ‘came out,’ my parents disowned me. I had to make new friends, because my old friends abandoned me.” He smiled. “Do you think I care what anyone thinks about my shoes?


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