2.03.2016

I Fought the Law and I Won


It's not that I set out to fight terrible laws, but a girl can only take so much before she won't take any more. Long story short: I didn't take it and I won. If you want the long story, keep reading.

How it began was at work in early January. It was a day like any other, until my supervisor informed me of some new strict mandates from OSHA that, if caught being violated by an investigator (or as I like to call them, a narc) on an unannounced visit, it could result in an excessive fine. Great, no pressure there for a part-time job.

The new safety mandates, we were told, required that my work supplies not be out of my sight, and that if they were out of my sight then they had to be behind a locked door. 

Now, I understand bureaucrats have no good sense nor a clue about jobs in the private sector because they have never had real jobs, but this was beyond anything I could imagine and I knew it could not be correct. My steno sense was all atingle. 

When it came down to it, the new mandates made it so that, should the need to use a bathroom arise while in the course of doing my work, I would have to put my needs on hold for the sake of OSHA. To invoke Louis Salinger: I'm not gonna do that.

However, since no one else in my department spoke up about the problems the new mandates created, I started to believe I was in the wrong for wanting to exercise my rights to redress government. Take my word for it, that is not a good feeling, especially when you know you are in the right.

My theory for why no one else spoke up is this: I am the only person in my department born in America and well versed in American rights, along with having experience in the legal field. So, I can understand the mindset of not wanting to fight government in a country one is not from, especially if one does not know their rights; however, I am a local and I not only know my rights, I exercise them daily. It is interesting though, being a minority amongst minorities, but I digress.

What's even worse is how the OSHA mandates made me feel: incompetent, untrustworthy, and objectified. Incompetent for not being trusted with my work products, and objectified for having to place the needs of my bladder second to the demands of OSHA. It's not men who objectify women, it's government who objectifies everyone.

So, there I was, feeling all of that on top of thinking that it wouldn't be worth my energy to speak up for my rights because I would only be rocking the boat that OSHA was attacking. No wonder I turned in a two-week notice. Luckily, a long talk with my supervisor made things better, especially since it was on the day before a safety meeting where the OSHA issues would be further addressed. 


I pointed out not only the logistical problems regarding being unable to use a restroom without feeling as if the government is discriminating against me in my work capacity; but also that I was now unclear as to what was safe and what wasn't safe due to the unclear mandates (which we hadn't even been shown the text of yet, and of course I objected to that, too).

After all, if my work products were unsafe when unattended, then how come more dangerous work products were okay when left unattended? Was I going crazy? Unfortunately, this is what bad laws do to me: confuse the snot out of me to the point where I don't know if up is down or right is left or if 'is' means is. And I do not like that feeling, not at all.

This is why I will not tolerate bad laws disrupting my life when, on those rare occasions, I unequivocally know I am able to do something to stop the madness.

I was pleased to learn during my airing of OSHA grievances to my supervisor that he supported, and understood, my right to redress government, and didn't make me feel bad for it either. As if speaking up for one's rights isn't hard enough when one is alone against the compliant majority and a girl, but these days one can easily be regarded as a kook for doing such a thing. Gag me with a tea bag.

Considering that OSHA does not impact me outside of work, my argument is that if the laws in my workplace need redressing, then the workplace must respect my right to redress those laws via channels made available through work; which is precisely what happened and it worked out not just in my favor, but in favor of everyone in my department. Pardon the dissension, but those who can't should not stand in the way of those who do.

Shortly before leaving work today, my supervisor approached me with the good news from the safety meeting: we don't have to continue with the mandates. Instead of keeping our work products unrealistically in our sights all the time, we will be getting containers with lids for the work products OSHA has concerns about. Now that's what I'm talking about.

Sure, OSHA's not entirely out of the workplace, but that's not what it was about. My fight was against a bad mandate that needed clarification, and possibly refining, since it was doing more harm than good. I appreciate safety in the workplace, not absurdity.

As much as I loathe bureaucrats, I like to (and try to) believe deep down that they don't want to stop production; but they know not what they do because they have never done the jobs that they make mandates for; thus, they are guilty of ignorance more than anything else. And while ignorance may not be a reasonable excuse, it is the reality of the world; all the more reason to speak up and fight its rising tide.

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