Today is Ash Wednesday, which starts the Lent season for Christians around the world. Although fasting during this time is typically associated with the Catholics, many other denominations give up on certain things as well. I am not Catholic but I’ve fasted during Lent for almost 10 years now. In the past, I’ve given up sweets, Pepsi, coffee — last year, I gave up Facebook. That was tough! It all depends on what I think will allow me to recenter my spiritual self.
I don’t advertise it though. I’m not looking for sympathy or accolades. I share it with friends to help keep me accountable. But I don’t walk around with a button for 40 days that says “Kiss me! I’m Fasting.” Especially at work because I choose to be sensitive to other people.
However, without fail, each year, somehow the subject comes up. I was chatting about this with a couple blogger friends the other day. And I was reminded of an incident a few years ago with a “Fast-hole.” All workplaces have at least one. That person who just has to ask and monitor and comment about what everyone is doing surrounding their religion’s fasting times.
I’d given up sweets for Lent that year. It was a struggle because I love all things sugar. But I was doing well! I was in the lunchroom one day, waiting for my food to heat up and sipping some iced tea when the Fast-hole walked in.
What are you drinking?
Aren’t you supposed to be off sweets?
This isn’t sweets
It’s sweet tea
It’s not sweets
It sounds to me like you are making excuses
It sounds to me like you should mind your business
Well, fine with me. You’re the one who has to explain that in the after life
Well, good thing you don’t hold the keys to the Kingdom
I was really annoyed. And offended. And uncomfortable. After I heard that similar encounters had happened with other people, I pulled her aside and told her that it was really inappropriate and she should stop. She was totally unapologetic about it but she didn’t make any other comments to anyone after that.
Many religions have periods of fasting during the year. Be respectful and considerate during these times. If you are a manager, make sure the employees in your influence and supervision are respectful and considerate as well. You may even need to make a religious accomodation if the person asks.
But please don’t be a Fast-hole! Keep your comments about people’s religious practices to yourself.
And if you guessed that I am giving up expletives this year, you might be right …