In quite possibly one of the weirdest AITAs I’ve ever read, the OP’s coworker is taking her to HR to complain about the sexy way she eats baked potatoes.
I know, it’s bizarre.
The OP is honestly sick of the harassment and doesn’t know what to do.
She just wants to eat her damn potatoes!
“My whole life, I’ve been eating potatoes by microwaving them, then biting into them, eating them hot dog style. This is the easiest, most convenient and intuitive way for me to eat potatoes (sweet potatoes or regular). I think this is how people in Japan eat them, or at least, this is how I was taught by my Japanese parents to eat them. Whenever I go to a grocery store, I always pick out the most easily bite-able potatoes, which are generally longer and thinner than most potatoes.”
The OP explains that she works in an office of about 30 people. Most everyone brings their own lunch and eats while doing work at their desk.
No one has ever bothered the OP about how she eats potatoes, but recently a new coworker asked her to eat them in a “more normal way.”
“I asked her what she meant, and she I was eating potatoes too suggestively. I was a little shocked because I literally just have my eyes glued to my screen whenever I’m eating and barely pay attention to how I eat. I told her no one else seemed to have a problem with the way I eat potatoes, but she insisted others were just too polite to say anything. I figured no one else really had a problem with it. But this happened multiple times. She kept coming to me and asking me to tone down the way I eat, even accusing me of going out of my way to choose sexy potatoes (????).”
The OP said that she asked her coworkers, and they were all as perplexed as she was. However the coworker keeps asking her to “tone down the way I eat” and even accused her of going out of her way to choose “sexy potatoes.”
The OP asked her to not watch her eat, but “apparently that’s just not feasible.” To top off this weirdness, the coworker reported the OP to HR, and she has a meeting with them next week.
I’ve honestly never heard of “sexy potatoes” before, and I am gobsmacked that someone’s coworker could be so invested in how a person eats.
What should the OP do?
“NTA but please tell me this is a joke cuz it’s freakin hilarious,” said spawberry.
“It’s probably worth turning it round and complaining that your co-worker is making you uncomfortable by making sexual comments about you eating your lunch,” said whyamiwastingmytime1.
“This chick should not be sexualizing your potatoes. Besides, anything between your potatoes and you is your own business and she should keep her nose out of it. Maybe she’s jealous of what you have and can’t make it work for herself. NTA. Don’t sweat the HR meeting, they’re just doing their job and hopefully find this as ridiculous as we do,” said fistbumpbroseph.
Well, the OP provided an update on the situation—and I have a lack of coherent words for how unhinged this got.
Initially, the OP said she had a few meetings with HR. The HR woman said that a coworker had reported her for “sexual harassment” — eating the sexy potatoes. The OP explained her story, that she just eats potatoes this way and there isn’t anything lewd about it.
Eventually, the OP, the potato lady, and the HR woman met together. The potato lady, whom the OP is now calling “Karen” told the HR woman “that after each time she asked me to tone it down, I escalated by choosing increasingly sexy potatoes to eat in front of her.”
By this time, the OP was “pretty sure HR was trying hard not to roll her eyes.”
“Later, I talked to my coworker who had stopped bringing curry because of Karen (let’s call him Surya) about the problems I had with her. He had been unable to eat his regular Indian lunches in the office because of her. We were both extremely annoyed, and honestly, I just felt extremely uncomfortable being in an office where she was constantly judging Asian people’s food. So I decided to file a report with HR, as suggested by many of you. I pointed out how she was harassing Asian people for their food choices and many of her comments towards me were bordering on sexual harassment.”
The OP had a meeting with her boss, who confessed that he did not like Karen, multiple people complained about her, and she had only been hired as a favor due to his wife, who is her cousin.
In a third update, the OP added that she she is a gay woman, which is known in the office.
Apparently, Karen decided to bring in the homophobia as well as the weird food obsession.
“So something I hadn’t mentioned in the original post is that I’m a gay woman, which is known in the office. However, I didn’t mention this because it wasn’t relevant until now,” the OP explained. “Karen confronted me in the parking lot after my HR complaint, claiming I was trying to spite her with the hard-boiled eggs I had eaten at lunch, even though I’m definitely not the only one who eats them in the office (I guess eggs are now too sexy too?). She said my harassment complaint was discriminating against her for being Christian and I was making her deliberately uncomfortable by throwing my sexuality in her face, but she knew she couldn’t say that because she’d be called homophobic. I honestly had no idea she was uncomfortable with gay people (and tbh, that’s not my problem), but she said that my putting a pride sticker on my laptop a few days after she started working here was the start of my escalation.”
“According to her, my behavior was retaliatory to her having Bible verses on her desk. Then here’s the kicker: apparently I was using my girlfriend, my relatively high pitched voice, and my eating to get men in the office to lust after me, implying that Japanese/Asian women try way too hard to be sexually appealing. I would have gone off on her for being homophobic and racist (with stereotypes I honestly had never heard of before), but I was tired and told her if my existence was bothering her, that’s not my problem and she should just work from home.”
“Well, she filed ANOTHER harassment claim, saying I was targeting her for religious discrimination. Like, goddam, I just want to eat my perfectly innocent food in peace. And somehow it turned into a whole religious and racial war. I told HR what had happened, then Karen claimed I was trying to paint her in a bad light. My boss later talked to me privately and apologized.”
Karen is now working remotely, but wow. Can you imagine?
Redditors have apparently been living for an update and shared how the OP’s story has actually influenced their lives.
“So you’re a gay woman and purposely throwing your sexuality in Karen’s face, but you’re ALSO at the same time eating sexy potatoes to make men lust after you? Seems like an odd thing for a gay woman to do, but then again bigots aren’t exactly consistent in their bigotry,” noted MadScientist21.
“Thank you so much for this update. My friends have been following the story and hating on your Karen while rooting for you. I can’t believe how far she went and how horrible she turned out to be. Some people are so OBSESSED with themselves—I mean, can you imagine her sitting at her desk just seething this entire time at perceived aggressions and escalations from you, all in her head,” said counsellcc.
“Wow, just wow. Kudos to you for not backing down and giving into her. Her issues, her circus. Thank you for teaching me something I didn’t know. Never thought of eating potatoes ‘hot dog’ style. It is now becoming my go to way of eating them,” said SDBoki71.
Lead image: Unsplash.