Given that we spend roughly one third of our lives working, it feels important to be on relatively good terms with our coworkers.
One Redditor recently found himself struggling in that department, so he posted on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit to see what others thought.
The Original Poster (OP), known as shortyvsbigears on the site, led with a question:
“AITA for making fun of my coworker’s big ears?”
It all began with a very bad first impression.
“I (31-year-old male) am 5’3. When I first met my coworker a few months ago, the first thing he said to me was ‘oh my god dude you’re so short.’ Seriously.”
“Before he even said hello or how are you, he said that.”
That begin a pattern.
“Ever since then, he calls me ‘shorty,’ ‘pipsqueak,’ or ‘smalls’ all the time.”
“I’m not overly insecure about my height, but I’ve been feeling pretty insecure after being around him for a few months.”
“I asked him repeatedly to stop, but he laughed it off and said it was just a joke. I reported it to HR, but they’re notoriously useless at my company and they’ve done nothing.”
But OP had some ammo of his own.
“Now, my coworker has larger than average ears. They aren’t extremely ginormous, but they’re big.”
“The other day, he walked up to me and said ‘hey shorty, what’s up?’ So I replied ‘hey, big ears, how are you?’ “
“You could tell that he was immediately offended. I thought that would put an end to the short jokes once and for all, but later in the same conversation, he called me ‘tiny.’ “
“So I said his ears were as big as Dumbo.”
Then came the inevitable confrontation.
“This went on for about a day. At the end of the day, I called him ‘mega ear,’ and he lost it.”
“He said I was a huge a**hole for teasing him about it.”
“He also said that everyone noticed my height so it didn’t matter if others heard him point it out, but not everyone noticed his ears, so I was unfairly pointing it out to others.”
It all left OP feeling unsure of the ethics.
“I told my girlfriend about the story later, and she provided a more compelling argument for why I might be an a**hole.”
“She said that petty squabbles ruin coworker relationships, and I should have either let it go, resubmitted a complaint to HR, or otherwise taken the high road.”
“She said I definitely wasn’t the only a**hole in the situation, but I probably was one. I don’t really feel like I’m the a**hole, but I thought I’d propose it here. AITA?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Most Redditors told OP he was morally in the clear.
“NTA. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.”
“And in your shoes, I would have argued that he was fooling himself if he thinks nobody has noticed his abnormally large ears.”
“Now. If he hadn’t started it by picking on you for being short, I’d have a different judgment. Us short people don’t need to be constantly reminded we’re short. We can’t help that anymore than he can help having XTRA large ears.” — jammy913
“NTA. He’s so pathetic he can’t take a joke when he’s so comfortable laughing at other people. If he doesn’t want to be The satellite ear, he needs to stop calling you shorty.”
“Doesn’t matter which feature is noticeable or not. If you noticed his big ears, then yeah, they are noticeably big, so his arguments suck.” — TintenfishvomStrand
“NTA. You tried diplomacy, you tried HR, and neither worked. You basically were forced to use self defense with the exact amount of force.”
“I’m 5’5 so I understand the short jokes. I made short jokes about myself. I can take the occasional joke from someone else, provided they can take jokes too.”
“But a**holes like your coworker? Ohhh boy, the taller they are the harder they fall.”
“P.S. When someone asks me to ‘take the high road’ or ‘Be the bigger person’ my usual reply is ‘I can’t. I’m too short for that’ ” — SparkAxolotl
“I don’t now why, but ‘mega ear’ made me laugh out loud.”
“For judgement: NTA. You reap what you sow.” — bittersweetlemonade
Some people added some advice.
“NTA. Usually I’d be saying the exact same as your girlfriend, and I do still feel the same.”
“However I don’t feel sorry for the guy you work with at all. You’ve asked him to stop, you’ve requested the company do something about bullying. He hasn’t taken the initiative, despite clearly feeling it’s unfair you pointing out something he is insecure about.”
“It’s ridiculous he has argued why it’s ok for him, but not got you to ‘make fun’ of something neither of you actually have any control over.”
“From this point I would however say not to keep calling him names to retaliate (it sounds like you’ve only done it though that one conversation anyhow)…”
“…but if he keeps calling you names, remind him of how you’ve requested he stop and clearly he isn’t comfortable with people pointing out his physical appearance that he doesn’t have control over, so perhaps he should be a little more though of how his words feel to others.” — the_littlest_ella
“NTA. He is trying to bully you so he’s likely insecure about himself. Attacking him back is probably counter productive though. It escalates conflict. That BS usually stops if your reaction is complete indifference, with no sign of any irritation.”
“Takes awhile before they give up. Also, nobody cares about your height, even when he tries to make something out of it. What they will notice is that he is an insecure bully and that you are confident enough to ignore him.” — TraditionNew4797
Although OP can’t undo the recent work spat, here’s hoping it all leads to reduced name-calling in the office.