I Took a Stand

“I Took a Stand,” New Era, July 1990, 39

I Took a Stand

Their dirty jokes and crude behavior tormented me constantly. Now my efforts to ignore them might cost me the job I had wanted so much.

My first real job was with a computer company in my native New Zealand. It afforded me all the opportunity I needed. The company would pay all my training expenses while providing me with an admirable salary.

I had worked in the clerical division for some months when the management announced they were to admit a female operator to the main computer room, until now a bastion of male dominance. All interested women were invited to sit the exam necessary, and one would be chosen for this honour.

My name was subsequently announced as the successful applicant. I was excited and determined to amaze the senior operators with my wonderful work.

How surprised I was to find that I was to be the main source of entertainment for the males in the computer room. It was great sport to tell off-colour jokes in my presence, put obscene pictures in the tape cupboards, and send me to those cupboards to fetch tapes. I had torn some of the offending pictures up, only to be given some form of punishment in the form of a task not desired by the other operators. Thus I spent a lot of time on menial tasks rather than furthering my computer education as I had hoped.

There was a shift diary in the room intended for leaving messages between shifts. However, this book contained primarily obscenities and very little pertaining to work. For this reason I decided not to read it.

Then came the day I arrived for the four o’clock shift.

“Why didn’t you come to the meeting?” asked the senior operator.

“What meeting?” I asked anxiously.

“The one the manager called for three this afternoon.” I knew he was enjoying this. They had caught me this time. “It was in the diary,” he finished almost sneeringly.

I felt ill. This time I was in real trouble. It wasn’t long before I was summoned to the manager’s office. My mind was in turmoil. What would I say? If I told the truth the teasing would likely become worse, and the others would declare all out war on this Mormon and her old-fashioned ideas. If I didn’t, I would have to lie and take the blame. Either way I felt my career was in jeopardy.

“Why didn’t you attend the meeting?” came the stern voice of the manager.

I had said a prayer on the way to the office, and my mind recalled the sticker on my bedroom mirror: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” These were my standards and I had to adhere to them, whatever the consequence. I explained to the manager my standards and why I hadn’t read the diary. I also told him about the pictures in the tape cupboard. He understood and appreciated my values.

The manager cleaned out the tape cupboard, the diary, and anything else offensive. He then spoke to the operators and turned their behavior around.

I enjoyed many happy years with the company and progressed to head operator. The most thrilling thing, though, was the fact that the manager began hiring other LDS employees. During the interview prior to starting their job he would say, “Stick to your church standards and you’ll be the sort of worker I want.”

It was a matter of standards, and my decision regarding my stand did matter, as does any decision we make concerning our relationship with our Father in Heaven and the world in which we live.

Illustrated by Roger Motzkus