Back Off!

By Kit Goldman, President of Workplace Training Network, Inc.

Rico: an employee at a fictional company
Danielle: his co-worker

SCENE: The break room. Other employees and supervisors in the room. “Rico” at a table reading the paper. Danielle enters.

D: Rico- how’s the coffee?

R: Ever sip drano?

D: Great. I need a cup. (big yawn) Did you see Larry King last night? (big yawn) He had on this gorgeous Hispanic scientist with a French accent which is a really exotic combo (big yawn…) anyway he was talking about this research (big yawn)…. That shows the quality of your “social life” if you get my drift, directly effects your energy level…(big yawn)…tell me about it.

R: I can relate.

D: I need chocolate. Come on, Rico. You’re diabetic. You’ve got a Snickers on you. Cough it up or I’ll conduct a search.

R: Sorry. Already ate it.

D: Spoilsport. You know I like the thrill of the hunt.

R: I thought being a predator was man’s work.

D: Wrong. Man’s work is carrying the luggage, taking out the trash, and killing the spiders.

(chuckles) Hey, did you get Sherry’s e-mail joke of the day?

R: No. Which is fine by me.

D: OK, what…

R: No, really, Dani…

M: Trust me. Why are men like parking spaces? The good ones are taken and all that’s left are handicapped! (she laughshe doesn’t)

R: (sarcastic) Love the male bashing.

D: Don’t take it personally, sweetie. It’s a joke.

R: A joke I didn’t want to hear. I said “no”.

D: Please don’t use that word. I hate that word. Probably because I hear it so much. Like from you every time I invite you out lately.

R: So maybe you should stop.

D: Uh uh. Never say die. In fact, you are going to want you to put me on your calendar for Saturday night…I’ve got the tickets for Santana baby! (sings “Oye Como Va” badly, goes into Hava Nagila)

R: What’s that? The Yiddish mambo? Thanks, that’s sweet. I know those tickets are hard to get. But I’ve got my kids this weekend.

D: Bummer. I’m not going without you. You’re my Latino connection. I’ll sell the tix. You’ve got the kids? Bring them over to my place Saturday. We can hang out, barbecue some burgers, carne asada for you…OK?

R: Burgers are fine for me. OK. Maybe 3:00?

D: Perfect. Oh my gosh, we must take your kids to the Children’s Museum. They’ve got an incredible exhibit where munchkins from all over the globe chat on-line even from the most deep, dark, primitive, places, you know…like… New Guinea….New Orleans…Bogota…

R: You know I’m from Bogota. Why do you?…Don’t start, Dani. OK?

D: Sorry! So sensitive. Can I ask you something?

R: Do I have a choice?

D: No. Que pasa, amigo? What happened to my friend, my buddy who looks like you, but is fun and upbeat in a warm fuzzy macho in-touch-with-his-feminine-side kind of way? My Rico Suave. I miss him. Everyone does.

R: Rico Suave? What am I? Your mascot? (she protests) I’m still me. You know perfectly well what’s going on. (With difficulty) Splitting up with Fran….12 years of marriage out the window

D: When Fran left, I don’t know why you didn’t crash at my place instead of going to that – what is it? — Amazonian Buddhist Ashram thing in. That scared me.

R: Are you trying to get on my nerves? I don’t need this right now. I’m in debt up to the eyeballs…….doing everything the court says to see my kids …(angry) taking anger freaking management, but I put a happy face on and go. AA. 38 days sober (she applauds) Don’t patronize me. And therapy. I can say it. I’m not ashamed. Actually they teach you some good stuff, like letting people know directly when they annoy you…

D: Amen baby. I do. You have to.

R: Telling people straight out that they’re annoying….

D: Yes, you’ve got to tell them….

R: You’re annoying me.

M: Me? Oh please. That’s ridiculous!

R: Look, I never liked the jokes…

D: Please. You’re always telling jokes. Always the first one to laugh at them.

R: Not lately. Maybe you haven’t noticed, or pretended not to…

D: Why didn’t you say something? I’m not a mind reader.

R: I thought it was pretty clear. I guess I didn’t want to make a big deal about it and come off like an uptight super sensitive stick-in-the-mud.

D: Obviously you’re not afraid of that anymore (turns, picks up newspaper)

R: (agitated) So what I hear you saying is you have no interest in who I really am.

D: “What I hear you saying”? You’re in therapy, all right. Fine, Rico.

R: Get a bullhorn! They didn’t hear you in the parking lot!

D: I thought you said you weren’t ashamed — but fine. “What I hear you saying” – is that sensitive enough? — is now that you’re the real you, the real me is offensive. I’ve got a problem with that.

R: There doesn’t have to be a problem. Look, drink your coffee. I’m sorry if I didn’t go about this right.

D: I accept your apology.

R: I wasn’t apologizing like that. I’m just saying respect me and my space. Like showing up last night at my door with pizza & beer, never called…

D: I left you a voicemail. Hey, you’re alone for the first time in 12 years. I want to be supportive. You loved the pizza….

R: Yeah, but the beer. I’m 38 days sober…

D: I had a lapse. Sorry! Like those chocolates I left on your desk? Hand dipped by Tibetan monks. And the card….?

R: It’s sweet of you, Danielle. I know it’s from your heart, but the cards, the gifts… I don’t want it. And the daily e-mails. Like this morning’s top 10 list of why Latino men are the best lovers…(to audience) true! (back to her) but racist. I didn’t like it.

D: …oh, please. You’re going through a divorce. I figured your ego could use a boost . When I went through my divorce I would have loved a top 10 list of why mature Jewish women are the best, but no luck!

R: Look, Danielle, you’re my friend, a great person. I know there’s more to you than this adolescent behavior….

D: (mock serious) Really? (Bitter laugh I’m sorry. This much sincerity from someone who looks like a Colombian hit man’s a little hard to take. (he moves away, disgusted. She goes to table) OK, fine. There’s 10 of us in the group. You find the inner you, now 9 of us need personality transplants. Tell you what. (takes pen from table) Let’s make a list of what we can and can’t do so as not to offend you and post it in the break room. Announce it at the team meeting. Maybe a staff-wide e-mail….

R: (starting to blow)…….You’re a hypocrite, you know that?….

D: ….a “hypocrite”?….

R: Always ranting and raving about “personal responsibility” how “courts and litigation have replaced communication”. You’re a hypocrite…

D: Litigation? Bingo. I figured that would come up

R. (very agitated, tries to calm down) I think we both need to back off, calm down…

D: I’ll tell you what. I’m up to here with this politically correct victim mentality. It is so ridiculous!

R: (angry, throws newspaper) No, I’ll tell you what’s ridiculous! Your attitude! I tell you how I feel, and you say it’s ridiculous? (to audience)This anger management’s not working. (Back to her) Sorry. Really. I shouldn’t have done that. Sorry.

D: We accept your apology (he glares) Don’t worry about it.

R: Look, just back off a little, ok? (to all) Sorry about yelling, throwing the paper.

D: Hey, I’m sorry too. Whatever I did it won’t happen again.

R: (to supervisor in the audience) I don’t want my personal business out there. Can we just keep this between us? You heard Danielle. It won’t happen again.

This script is the copyrighted intellectual property of Workplace Training Network, Inc. and may not be used for any purpose without the express permission of WTN, San Diego, CA