Work cultures can vary significantly from one job to another.
Some are strict and utilitarian while others are chaotic but close-knit.
How comfortable should your workplace be?
This was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) SpringEmotional3918 when they came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for outside opinions.
“AITA for having a ‘vulgar’ and unproffesional nickname?”
OP began with the setting.
“I work in a hospital with around 6-7 other guys in my department, along with the chief of our department.”
“A part of our workplace culture, which I frankly find cool, is to have nicknames at work.”
“Our nicknames are pretty much interchangeable with our actual names.”
“Say, my name’s John, but sometimes they’ll say ‘Hey involve “nickname” in this case too’ or say ‘Hey John how was your weekend’ and I’ll respond ‘Boring, “Nickname” what about yours?’ “
“The nicknames aren’t anything offensive at all btw.”
Then there was an explanation of the origins of the nicknames.
“Here’s the rundown, we’ve got Speedy, who got her nickname because we saw her sprint once and she is insanely fast.”
“Archer, a former archery champion. Seer, because she is super into Divination. Snowborn, because he’s never cold. The chief, who’s nickname is The King.”
“The story of The King is actually pretty cool tbh, he was the youngest ever chief of any department, and one of the older folk called him the Boy King.”
“He’s definitely not a boy now, so he’s just The King”
“My nickname is The Gravewalker.”
“Reason being I work the graveyard (middle of the night) shift most of the time.”
“I love it, the hospital is nice and quiet and the only patients that come in are real cases that genuinely need help.”
“I also have some scars which contributed to the ‘badass’ nickname according to the Chief.”
“Personally, I think the nicknames are great, as do the rest of us, because it’s brought us all a little bit closer and, frankly, my nickname’s cool.”
“Call me immature but we work dead serious jobs and need a little bit of humour and fun sometimes.”
Everything was fine, until…
“A new girl joined us and she was very against nicknames.”
“She found out when someone said ‘Hey, involve The Gravewalker in this case, he’s experienced with this.’ And she found me scary to approach cus of that name.”
“She now refuses to call anyone by the nickname and if I reference someone by the nickname, she used to just flat out ignore me.”
“The Chief had a chat with her about respecting the workplace culture, and how she needs to integrate better.”
“So instead she came after me, yelling at me about how my nickname is vulgar, unprofessional and I should have denied it when they gave it to me.”
“She told me to talk to everyone, but make it seem like it came from me so she doesn’t get into trouble.”
“If it’s relevant, we haven’t given her a nickname yet and now we try to reference each other’s names when talking to her.”
“I also told her to go fuck herself when she came yelling and she looked like she was about to faint.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, it was time for Reddit to pass judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some tried to look at it from a professional perspective.
“The culture of nicknames isn’t problematic unless it is used around patients (ask for the gravewalker when I’m in hospital, and I may sh*t my pants).”
“She entered a culture that she found discomfiting.”
“She can then ASK ‘Can you guys not use the nicknames to me, I prefer real names, and please don’t give me one’. Or she can decide it isn’t right for her and leave.”
“If someone came after me like that, I’d tell them to get f*cked too.” ~ MessyDragon75
Others found the humor.
“Listen, if there’s someone named the Gravewalker in my medical team I’m going to be into it because either:”
“That person is some rad semi-mystical genius who pulls people back from the brink of death, or”
“I have just met the rare (but not nonexistent) wrestling doctor, and I have questions about behind-the-scenes heat and work/shoot stuff.”
” ‘Excuse me, Gravewalker. Can you confirm that there are a number of wrestlers who would kill Goldberg with the power of their brains if they could?’ “
” ‘Also, why does this machine beep frantically when you come in? Have you ever met CM Punk? Okay, thanks for the antibiotics!’ “ ~ lilyofthealley
Of course, there were also personal stories.
“So, at my old fire department, there was a medic we all called The Reaper.”
“He’s been a medic for probably 10 years or so now, and he has NEVER gotten pulses back on a cardiac arrest. Literally never.”
“At least two people have gone from talking to him to dying in two seconds, and his codes and intubations are always the messiest, most f*cked up, tight hoarder house vomit-y bloody codes.”
“All through no fault of his own, it’s just the curse the EMS gods have bestowed upon him.”
“Would we call him that in front of other patients? Hell no.”
“But it’s an awfully accurate and morbidly funny nickname, and we all roll with it and mercilessly tease him.” ~ shady-lampshade
“My mom was a hospice nurse and a friend changed her ringtone to the Monty Python quote ‘bring out your dead! bring out your dead!’ which she thought was funny but I had to tell her she should change it because imagine if a patient or a patient’s family heard that?”
“But if it’s just between the colleagues? It sounds fun and nice for the culture.”
“Edit: lots of people are saying this is hilarious.”
“Definitely true! And I know dark humor at a time like that is something lots of people find value in, especially the medical fields.”
“Buutt, we ALL know one person who would find it horribly offensive (like the AH in this post) and get my mom, who is a wonderful and compassionate person who hates conflict, in trouble.” ~ ElizaDooo
“My partner is a vet surgeon with the nickname Dr Death.”
“All of the clients anywhere he’s ever worked ask for him when it’s a preplanned put to sleep.”
“They like how he stays calm, keeps the animal calm, doesn’t rush you, etc but it means he gets all the PTS cases and the name has stuck and since it’s a small profession and he’s worked a few places local, nurses/vets who know each other have swapped the name to practices with him.”
“So if a PTS is booked, nurses will come in the back and call to him that Dr Death is needed. I’d love to see the face on the clients if they ever hear 🤣” ~ Wolfpawn
Commenters also tried to see both sides.
“NAH, I guess.”
“The new coworker is overreacting.”
“I think the Chief was correct in telling her that nicknames are part of the workplace culture. But that doesn’t mean yours is ok and I probably would have gone conservative and nipped it in the bud.”
“Telling coworkers to go f*ck themselves is not generally accepted behavior especially when that employee is voicing concern about a nickname that is questionable but it sounds like she had gone off the deep end.”
“Given the context I personally think your nickname is not vulgar or offensive, but I hope that no patients or visitors ever hear a hospital employee being referred to by it.”
“That would be my main concern in terms of professionalism.”
“Why not The Nightwalker or any other number of possible names?”
“HR or employment law attorney may get into this if she files some kind of complaint.”
“Their job is to protect the employer from liability so maybe the name would have to go. It sounds like you have support from The King so unless someone else steps in or this thing escalates, it is what it is.”
“A team brush-up on workplace anti-harassment best practices may be in order.”
“But dang, if I or a loved one had a serious illness I would find it very unsettling and inappropriate to have a staff member referred to as The Gravewalker.”
“And you may think patients can’t/don’t ever hear it, but patients and visitors hear all kinds of conversations that they are not involved in.” ~ throwaway20698059
“So… her nickname could be “FirstNamesOnly.”
“I’d give you a complete pass on assholery, except that you told her to go f*ck herself. You’re in a work environment, and whether she’s out of line or not, that was unprofessional.”
“I’ve known graveyard workers and don’t find your name offensive at all. I was expecting a name with an obscenity in it based on your title, so Gravewalker is pretty darn tame.”
“Hopefully she will adjust.”
“You are all being fairly kind in trying to use first names instead of nick names when you speak to her, but not at fault if you slip.” ~ ThatOldGrandma
Every job has it’s own stresses and it can be a challenge to deal with that stress.
Finding closeness in a difficult environment can be the difference between a team that functions well together and one that simply functions.
While it’s important to foster those close bonds, remember that not everyone shares that ideology.
Levity can help people cope with difficulty, but so can professionalism. Neither are wrong.