RICKTER SCALE: Politically incorrect? Maybe it’s just me.

Rick Stiebel | Columnist

The constant shifts in the landscape of political correct occasionally leaves me feeling like I’m tiptoeing through a mental minefield blindfolded.

Fortunately for the rest of you, the bride is my guide in most public and social settings.

Work environments are a different story, however. That’s exacerbated by the fact that in addition to having to behave through interviews while chasing down a story, I work out of a disparate collection of offices at the Goldstream News Gazette, the Sooke News Mirror and the Saanich News. And going in after an extended absence for vacation relief and discovering the cast of characters has changed by addition or subtraction only adds to my consternation.

I am blessed to work with a great group of gals at the Gazoo. (Note to self, check if gals is still considered PC ). They all go out of their way to warn any newbies about the current state of my frequently documented offensive sense of humour, my glaring lack of accepted social graces and the myriad of personality disorders used to describe me when I’m out of earshot.

I have heard more than one of them suggest that it’s a good idea to have the Human Resources hot line number on speed dial, or at the very least, within easy reach.

The only time I don’t have to adhere to the usual rules is when I’m in the company of my male friends, perhaps because in most cases they are cut from the same subterranean, neanderthal-like cloth. That comfort zone does tend to blur or evaporate, however, when we are emboldened by each other enough to display our collective lack of wisdom in the presence of our far more intellectual and sensitive wives.

If there’s a sliver of silver in the cloud that follows me around like a curse, it’s that I do try, even really hard sometimes, to adapt to the changing flow of what’s currently acceptable. It’s also fortunate that I have the bride by my side to curtail my cromagnoid tendencies when circumstances require restraint.

I was raised by a loving, caring father who worked his butt off to provide for the love of his life and their six offspring. He did warn me on more than one occasion though, usually after a movie featuring the French Foreign Legion, to “never turn your back on an Arab because he’ll stick a knife in it.”

As alarming as that sounds, it’s even more confounding when you take into account that I don’t think dad ever met anyone of Arabic descent during his 94 years on this planet.

That undoubtedly underlines the belief that this particular apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. It’s also offers feeble defence for my struggles with inner voices, verbiage and vaguely questionable vocabulary. It’s a work in progress, which are ironically the words the bride chooses to describe me more often than she’d like.


Rick Stiebel is a a semi-retired journalist and Sooke resident.

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