On an early winter morning in December, I was schedule for a physical inventory count as part of an Audit task at work. I drove down to Victoria, Texas on a cloudy morning hoping it wouldn’t be such a tough one to do. When I arrived at this coal power plant, majority of the blue collar workers were white. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any Hispanic or Latinos. I was greeted by the facility manager and he gave me a tour. There were two silos (a cylindrical mount) I had to climb. Each Silo had a ladder attached to it and the each ladder had a narrow protective surrounding (see below for pic). Another girl arrived at the site, she was short and heavy. We put our helmets and steel toe shoes and waited for instructions. As we were getting nearer to the silos, I realized the girl wouldn’t be able to climb or she would hold us up. She was able climb, but it took us more than 2hours for us to measure each chemical in the silos. After climbing the first silo, the girl decided to take a break. However, I wanted to already climb the silo and take a measurement and leave. Instead of being on schedule, we decided to take a break for an hour.
Facility Manager with a concerned look, said, “Who was going to conduct the physical inventory the next day?” I told her the name of the girl and he asked me her physical traits. I described her as a big girl. A little too heavy to climb the ladder and she was physically unfit for the job. The Facility Manager announced that I should call her and ask for someone else to do the task tomorrow. When I called her, I mentioned nothing about her physical traits to her, because she knew she was a big girl. She would not be able to climb it. Without hearing my side, she got very defensive. She sent me few texts, and they read as,” you need to more information as to why they’re under the assumption I shouldn’t come, or why you’re under the assumption I can’t handle the work?”
I didn’t want to have to argue with this logic. I knew I was right. So without going further into the conversation, I told her she will do fine. I didn’t care to be a concerned co-worker after such a defensive banter. During the phone conversation, she asked me if it was because she was a girl or that she was big girl? I didn’t want her to get offended so I ended the conversation by saying she will be okay.
So my question to the readers, how would you have handle this situation differently? Even if it was a guy, I still would’ve called. Why do “big” people get defensive, I know you’re big and I know you know that you’re big. Should an average size person feel uncomfortable telling a big person that she/he is physically unfit for the task? Has the society come to the term that being “big” is perfectly normal and healthy? I don’t have any issues with people being big. It’s their body. They can do whatever they want, but when a job requires a physically fit person, “big” people do not need to get defensive.