Being the only two foreigners at work

The business I work for is quite big, around 500 employees. About 50 employees are working at the offices, myself included. The other about 450 employees are working on the production shop floor and are 90% immigrants. Offices and Shop Floor personnel rarely interact as there are managers that speak on their behalf.  Business owners are British.

“At the Offices” I am one of the two non-British employees. The other employee is my wife. If I would be ending this post here, what would be you very first thoughts? If you have the liberty, comment bellow you very first thoughts, then continue reading.

You may consider that those who say “What I do for living is what I love doing” are truly privileged. And I think you might be right if you think about it as doing eight hours a day what you like and being paid for it, truly this is a spectacular privilege. But of course, we all have our bad days. Anyways, this paragraph was intended not to allow you to peak on how I am about to continue with being the only foreigners at work.

Let me start with the traditional tea/brew invitations that happen about six times a day, Monday to Friday. I can count the times I have been asked if I want a brew at about 5 times since I got employed, about a year ago. Four times I have been asked by my former manager that left six months after I got employed. My wife is a bit spoiled on the matter as she gets asked about two of three times a week. But I got over it, even if it bothered me at first, let’s say that I am not British therefore I might not be entitled to participate on such traditions.

Allow me to continue with the so called Friday’s Breakfast Day, when most of my colleagues are ordering breakfast from a local fast-food. If I am not the one that is going to take the order for my colleagues, then the order will go through silently without me being asked. As just happened this morning when they ordered pizza. There is a tacit agreement between them in order to make me feel as unwelcome as possible.

Something more eloquent that strongly contradict the proudly invoked British politeness and reveals their voluntary chauvinists attitude are the exchange of the most primitive pleasantries like “Good morning”, “See you later” and such. If the business owners are present in the office, everything is like on telly: exaggerating with pleasantries and smiles. When the business owners are not around, I could swear that I am entering in a wax museum, rather that an office, as my pleasantries are never answered. Maybe my pronunciation is wrong, who knows.

In principle, every company has a well defined position responsible for saying “No”. I get a “No!” or strongly being questioned about everything I ask that is work related by everyone, no matter their position, relevance or knowledge on the matter, followed by corner gossips and weird looks. All arguments, when asked on the matter, are rooted in chauvinist presumptions that are used to build unsustainable (mostly circular) arguments.

Human Resources asked me if I feel integrated with the British people, with the workplace in general, with the team in particular. Here comes the difficulty: What can I actually say?

My lunch break is over, back to work.

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