My boss tried to humiliate me on my first day of work. I’m from Ireland living in The Netherlands. On my first day, he was asking me what brought me to The Netherlands and I told him, and ended my explanation with “… so we decided moving to Europe would be good for us!”.

Now allow me to clarify. I’m not an idiot. I and all Irish people are WELL aware that Ireland is and always has been a European country. When I said that we decided to move to Europe, I wasn’t implying that we didn’t already live in Europe. I took it for granted that he would know that I meant “mainland Europe”. It’s common place for Irish people to refer to mainland Europe as just “Europe”, because we’re an island nation and, physically, unconnected to the rest of the continent.

Anyway, my boss looks at me like I’m the stupidest woman he’s ever seen. He starts laughing really condescendingly and says things like “oh, cos Ireland’s not in Europe?” and “So you’re not European already?”. Even though, to be perfectly honest, I got the immediate impression that he knew well what I had meant and he was deliberately being pedantic in order to make me seem like an idiot, I attempted to clarify my statement by explaining as I have in the above paragraph.

As I tried to explain, he immediately raised his voice to drown mine out, as he proceeded to very loudly tell my other new bosses and co-workers “Did you hear what she just said? She thinks Ireland isn’t in Europe!!!”. He then laughed louder than ever as I, in vain, tried to explain that I didn’t think that and that’s not what I meant. Everyone around looked embarrassed for me and I ducked into the kitchen until he had stopped loudly cackling and mocking me and work began.

Yes, this was as the same work place where I was routinely harassed, both sexually and otherwise. And no, none of my male co-workers were EVER subjected to the same or similar treatment. They were treated with respect.