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OK Jokes Are Not OK At This Time

I am from the town of Moore, Oklahoma. I was born and raised there, and moved away when I was 21 years old. My entire family and most of my childhood friends still reside there. I visit multiple times per year, as I am very close to my parents and will sometimes spend close to 4 weeks per year there. In other words – my hometown is still very dear to my heart.

I live in Texas now. For those that do not know, there is a rivalry going back many, many years between Oklahoma and Texas. This applies mostly to college sports, but it also extends to just general hostility towards one another.

I’ve always thought this was all a bit odd and have never gotten into the rivalry that much – although if forced to choose, it would definitely be my home state. All throughout football season, the jokes around my office are endless and I’ll admit, it get a little old. I take it in stride and just secretly relish the Oklahoma victories in sports.

As most of you know, a massive tornado – the worst tornado in recorded history – hit my hometown of Moore, Oklahoma this week. The devastation is beyond anything I can even describe. I personally know of 3 dozen people from my home church that have lost their homes. The tornado came within just yards of my parent’s house. And these are just the people that I personally know! All in all, 13,000 homes and businesses were destroyed or severely damaged. The worst part of course were those that perished in the storm. This included 10 children that lost their lives. This community has been devastated by this storm.

A girl that I work with is an avid University of Texas football fan. I’ve never quite understood this, since she has never attended college and don’t know why she would have such a loyalty to the school. Her jokes about Oklahoma are constant. I choose to play along during the year with her jokes. I just smile and nod and continue working (I don’t have any Texas jokes to reciprocate and honestly even if I did, I wouldn’t want to egg her on).

Since this terrible tragedy, her jokes have not only continued, but escalated. They are extremely inappropriate and offensive. She is kind of a cut-up at work and wants to make everyone laugh and have an atmosphere of fun. Maybe to my other co-workers, these jokes ARE fun. However, to someone that has just seen the closest people in the world to me barely miss being killed by a massive tornado, these just aren’t funny.

In my opinion, it’s disrespectful.

Jeanne, what do you think? Do you think that her joking is inappropriate at a time like this? Should I ask her to please stop?   0524-13

The next joke, you fix her with a serious, mournful look and say, “Co-worker, people died in Oklahoma. There is a time and place for joviality but now is not that time.”   Turn and go back to work.  Ignore her and if another co-worker facilitates her jokes with, “HAHAHAHA! Did you hear that?”, you reply, “Hmmm? What?  Did she say something?  I wasn’t paying attention.  Do you have the reports I requested last week done yet?”

I’m sorry your friends and family have had to endure such a tragedy.   Ehell has made a donation to the American Red Cross for Oklahoma disaster relief.


Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Phoebe161 May 29, 2013, 6:58 pm

    OP stated in her second post:
    >This was met with a response of, “Oh, you know I love y’all. I’m just playin.”<
    Hah. Passive-aggressive behavior. The problem with Miss UT Fan is her need to be cruel under the disguise of "playin'." Good-natured ribbing is fine; cruelty is another. If Miss UT Fan insists on these type of jokes, complain to HR, management, whomever is appropriate, if ignoring her ie Admin's suggestion of not listening doesn't work. Cruel joking is plain & simple creating a hostile work environment and should be not tolerated.

  • Snowy May 29, 2013, 7:08 pm

    “I guess I’d find it funnier if Moore wasn’t my hometown. Or if my old neighborhood was still standing. Can you print that report out for me?”

  • Charlie May 29, 2013, 7:39 pm

    Norman resident here, and an OU graduate student. I definitely understand the rivalry, and it goes far beyond sports — it’s hundreds of years old and harkens back to land rights/grazing rights and water rights. But this is NOT the time for it. This is a time for us to join together. In fact, when many displaced Moorenites were moved into the dorms on campus, Texas FEMA volunteers were some of the very first responders to manage the madness. When my friend and I dropped off donations, we brought coffee to several of the gentlemen volunteering to direct traffic (both cars and pedestrians) and who had been there without any refreshment or rest for hours. We also gave them big hugs. Because it wasn’t about being an Oklahoman or a Texan, it was about being human.

  • Angel May 29, 2013, 9:33 pm

    OP, I am really sorry that not only did your home state get hit by a horrific tornado but that you have to deal with rude boors as well. Your coworker is very insensitive and unfortunately until she has to go through a terrible time she just doesn’t get it. Too bad for her.

  • Cat May 29, 2013, 9:39 pm

    I don’t believe I mentioned disapproving of the woman’s being a fan of a college. What I dislike is that she is downgrading her coworker for having gone to the university of her choice. Cheer for whomever you wish, but don’t sneer at someone who did not go to that university.
    To illustrate, this happened to me. A first cousin-once-removed came to my home with his mother for Christmas eve dinner. I had never met the man but, being Christmas, I had a small gift wrapped up for him. I gave him a baseball cap from my university as I did his grandfather. When his grandfather opened his gift to reveal the cap, the man yelled, “Get another one and you’ll have one to (defecate) on and another to cover it up.” Since he had never finished high school, he had no reason to make such a remark about my school. I imagine he was surprised to find this gift was the same.
    It’s that sort of rudeness to which I object. Not everyone wants to attend a university but no-one should be a boor to those who did.

  • Charlie May 29, 2013, 10:51 pm


    I don’t believe she “downgraded” her coworker at all (I believe you were actually looking for the word derogated.) She simply expressed how she finds it odd that someone would be so passionate about a university they did not attend. It is her absolute right to feel that way, and I admit that I also find it odd that many of my family members are such passionate OU fans when they attended completely different schools or did not attend college at all.

  • Arianna May 30, 2013, 2:36 am

    OP, I’m glad you said something to her. Whether it got through or not (which it obviously didn’t) at least you get a slight reprieve from her jokes. If it persists I would probably sternly say once again how you are worried about your home town and she should be more sensitive about it.
    But once again, I’m glad you said something to her. Last year I was in the same situation but did not say anything and I regret it. I am from NY and both sides of my family were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy (no power for weeks and the like) and I could not get through to them most of the time and seeing as I was the only family member who was safely in my college apt in Philly, I was really worried. During a shared shift a coworker decided it was a great time to bring out some NY jokes. Specifically he said how NY decided to go as New Orleans for Halloween this year. To this day it still makes me angry and I really regret not putting him in his place. Keep at it!

  • NV May 30, 2013, 5:01 am

    “If you really ‘loved’ us all, you wouldn’t make these grossly insensitive jokes. They will never be appropriate, and I find your lack of understanding and compassion appalling.”

    Or something like that.

  • Lisa May 30, 2013, 11:44 am

    OP, thanks for the update!

    Frankly, she just sounds like a weirdo to me.

  • CJCarville May 30, 2013, 12:21 pm

    This is why I don’t understand why people get so emotional about sports. The Onion t-shirt summed it up the best: the sports team from my city is going to beat the sports team from your city.

  • Carrie May 30, 2013, 12:30 pm

    “I said something to the effect of, “Do you realize this is where I’m from? This is my hometown and people that I dearly love were affected in this storm”.

    This was met with a response of, “Oh, you know I love y’all. I’m just playin.””

    This is a passive aggressive, piss poor response to excuse her heinous behavior. Not even an “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, I’ll be more sensitive in the future”? Really?

    I would go to HR or her supervisor and file a hostile work environment report when her “jokes” start up again. Even with recent events, the behavior is unexcusable, expecially in a work environment.

  • Allie May 30, 2013, 3:21 pm

    I mean, if these kind of comments were about people from a country, rather than a state, we’d easily call this racism. These kind of blind attacks on an entire state are NOT okay. Football is supposed to be about expressing regional rivalries in a healthy way. Like when my alma mater plays my parents alma mater, there’s some mild teasing about the teams. But crude and hateful statements are just not okay at any time.

  • Doris May 30, 2013, 4:57 pm

    Anti-Oklahoma comments may constitute a hostile work environment without adding in jokes regarding the tornado. However, if you let those jokes pass until now, there may be a problem. In most work places, you do have to tell the person that you find something offensive at least once before filing a hostile work environment report. If the offensive behavior continues after that, you can file a report. Consult Human Resources – or whoever deals with Equal Employment Opportunity regulations – at your place of work for information on how they handle such complaints.

  • Noodle May 30, 2013, 10:04 pm

    I live in Texas and thankfully I haven’t come across anyone making comments like this. Maybe it’s because I’m not a native Texan, but I never really “got” why some of them make so much fun of Oklahoma.

  • Mabel May 31, 2013, 11:29 pm

    I don’t have any advice; what Admin suggested was perfect. I just wanted to *HUG* the OP. Thoughts and prayers to your town, and I hope the stupid repeat tornadoes tonight didn’t do too much more damage.

  • Ruby June 1, 2013, 8:26 am

    I don’t believe one has to have attended a university to be a fan of it. In my home state, there are no professional teams at all. Zero. All we have is college football, and by God, we are die-hard fans of the university bearing our state’s name. Nobody should judge that.

    Also, to say that somebody who never even attended college should not be a fan if any university is frankly, elitist.

    Now, we will trade good-natured smack talk with opposing fans during sports season. It generally has nothing to do with anything going on in that state that’s unrelated to sports.

    For example, my state lost a number of coal miners in an explosion. There was a miscommunication and the coal company let family members believe, for hours, that their miners were alive when in fact, all but one was dead. It was a huge tragedy for our state.

    Two days later, we faced a Florida team in a bowl game. I would not have been happy about dead coal miner jokes, but good old smack talk about football teams was a welcome distraction and appropriate in my opinion.

    (Yes, we won. )

  • delislice June 3, 2013, 7:46 am

    Passive-aggressive is right. “Oh, y’all know I’m just playin’ ” calls for a level, limpid stare held just long enough to cause Miss Texas discomfort, then turning away and saying nothing else.

    I’m a Red Sox fan, and my husband of 20 years is a Yankees fan. I was profoundly moved by the tributes of the Yankees and other teams to Boston in the days following the Boston Marathon bombing, and watched the videos over and over.

  • Evie3 June 4, 2013, 9:36 am

    It always kills me when someone who hasn’t ever set foot on a college campus can be such a rabid fan. I live in Alabama, and the Auburn/University of Alabama rivalry is ridiculous. And the people that fight the hardest are ones that barely hold a GED!!

    OP, you and your home state are in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Kristy June 5, 2013, 10:00 am

    I don’t see how picking a college team is any different than picking a professional team. You find something that appeals to you; whether it’s the coaches, players, stadium, geographical area, whatever, and over time that becomes your team. My husband is a huge U of Michigan fan and we live in a sea of Illinois-orange!