Breaking the Bro
Steven Felton stood at his desk in his third-floor corner office building. It was a non-descript office building in a sea of the other grey, non-descript office buildings that dotted the San Francisco suburban sprawl. Steven was busy pouring over the New York Times article outlining how Travis Kalanick was ousted from his CEO position at UBER. The article detailed how Travis perpetuated a bro culture rife with sexism and toxic masculinity. The news was terrible to get because Travis was one of Steven’s best friends. They would go spear-fishing together every third week of June down in the Florida Keys. Seeing his boy Travy K get the ax made him anxious that the same thing could happen to Steven at his company.
Steven’s company was called Rayfound. They specialized in technology that paired your Raybans to your smart phone. If your shades fell off your slippery, suntan lotioned nose, whether you were on the sailboat or the four-wheeler, you would be able to find them in two shakes of a margarita mixer with the GPS locator on your phone. Steven loved his company and wanted to be sure that he stayed at the top of it for many years to come. A scandal like Travis’s could ruin him.
Steven decided to call in his C.F.O. Brad and his Head of Sales, Austin in to have a frank discussion about their workplace culture to decide if it was too bro-y and, if it was, what needed to be done to fix it.
Steven rang Brad’s desk through the intercom. After two rings, Brad answered.
“What’s up Boss-man?”
“Brad, need you to grab Austin and come into my office.”
“Yes sir! You mind if we finish this game of poker first? Got Austin and a few of the guys from sales here and I’m up with the small blind.
“No, I need you and Austin to come in here now.”
“Ah, damn, alright be there in a sec.”
Steven heard poker chips cascading down on a glass table before the connection was severed. A few minutes later, there was a loud knock at the door.
Brad walked in first. He was a house of a guy, pushing 260 pounds with broad shoulders and big gut that he stuck out with pride. Brad played Division 1 Lacrosse for UCLA all four years and still carried himself like it ever mattered. His Brooks Brothers button-up hugged his midsection snugly where his cargo shorts hung loose.
After him came Austin, a smaller muscular guy, with a beard that he dyed black. He rocked a shaved head, tank tops and flip flops most days when he was making calls from his desk. When he had to go out for meetings there was a suit and tie he kept with his Krav Maga fighting stuff under his desk.
Austin spoke first.
“Hey Stevie! The Amazon deal is as close as a Brazilian wax job to getting done!”
That’s good to hear, but that isn’t why I called you both in here. Shut the door Brad and take a seat.”
Brad obliged and everybody sat down.
What’s up Steve? Did somebody die or something, Brad asked with a toothy, disarming smile. “This seems serious.”
It is serious. Did you guys hear what happened to Trav?
“Ah yeah, that was some bullshit.” Austin started, “Just a buncha people making a big deal out of nothing, then all those Washington Post articles started coming out and there was no stopping the Social Justice Warrior mob.
“Yeah, well,” Steven said with a sigh, as he walked over to his golf bag, “whether it was justified or not, it still makes me worried. Travvy K is a great dude and if it could happen to him, it could happen to me.”
Steven yanked out his pitching wedge and began to do practice swings with next to his desk. You guys don’t think ‘bro culture’ has seeped into RayFound do you?
“Ah boss you are just stressed over nothing. I was just playing Texas Hold ’em with all the guys and they were all talking about how much they love working here. All of ’em, Allen, Mike, Tom, and Allan. They love it here.”
“Yeah, Stevie” Austin chimed in, “you’re just stressed out, but you shouldn’t be. We are doing great as a company. Sales for this quarter have been great. Moral is sky high. You are just freaking out over nothing, we aren’t nearly as big as UBER and we play things way more by the book here….. Hey, Austin said with a sly cock of the eyebrow, you know what would help with the stress right about now?
Steven stopped swinging the club and grinned when he heard the question. “Awww well” he started, looking at the clock on his desk, “I guess one couldn’t hurt. You guys are right, we don’t have a problem with sexism in this office. It’s all in my head.
Alright now, on three boys….. One, two three!” Brad Steven and Austin all shouted, “ITS MILLER TIME!”
With that, Steven got back on the intercom. “Hey sweetie, bring in three cold ones for the most handsome men in Silicon Valley.”
A few moments later, a female secretary walked in with three opened Miller Highlifes on a silver tray. It was impressive that the tray was staying so steady. Walking in stilettos on shag carpet is hard enough as it is without having to balance anything in your hand.
“Thank you darlin” Steven said as the woman put the tray down. She turned about face and walked away. Brad let out a whistle as she shut the door behind her.
“What was her name again?” Austin asked.
“To be honest, and I know this is bad, I don’t even remember” Steven responded.
“A toast boys.” Steven said as he raised his bottle.
“To…. an inclusive work atmosphere!”
The three men clanked glass bottles then chugged them in one swig, letting out large belches after.
“Ok boys, good meeting, back to work.”
They all fist bumped each other and went back to their desks. It always hurt because their fraternity rings hit up against bare knuckles. None of them ever acknowledged the pain though. This was RayFound, after all.