Woman Fired for ‘Blessing’ People at Her Job

A bank teller claims she was fired for her religious beliefs. The Cleveland, Ohio, teller, Polly Neace, says she was fired after repeatedly telling customers to "have a blessed day," and that she also reprimanded a customer for taking the Lord's name in vain. Apparently the bank, U.S. Bank, had warned her to stop with the "blessed" stuff, but when she didn't, they fired her. So she's suing.

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Whether or not Neace should have been fired for pushing God on customers is one thing. Taking your religious beliefs into the workplace is never a good idea, unless you work at a religious organization. There are people who have different religious beliefs than you, and they shouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable or wrong.

But let's just take the phrase "Have a blessed day." You don't hear it much here in New York -- though I gather it's very popular in some parts of the country. But once, to my shock, a cashier at a retail store did say this to me. In Brooklyn.

I was so surprised, I blurted, "Are you from the South?" and she looked at me like I had two heads and said no.

I walked away feeling slightly stifled -- who was she to assume I was Christian? Who was she to assume I wanted anything to do with being blessed?

Although I grew up Methodist, I had been a lapsed Christian for many years. A few years ago, I discovered Buddhism and really liked it and began studying it and attending Buddhist "sermons" at a local center. I study the beliefs and try to live by them.

With that in mind, I ruminated on the "Have a blessed day" comment. At its core, Buddhism is really all about compassion and realizing we are all one. I asked myself what this woman's intent was. Was her intent to make me feel slighted or guilty, or was she trying to convert me, or was she assuming I shared her beliefs? I didn't think so. I think she was just wishing me a nice day. She didn't say, "Have a nice day," but that is what she meant. How could I find offense when someone was merely wishing me pleasantness?

As a Buddhist, I would never wish someone an "enlightened" day, but if I did, I would hope that person would also think, "Huh. She is wishing good things for me." Not, "Oh, that pagan wants me to go to hell! Now I'm going to take up my precious time on this planet fuming about it when I could be doing some good in the world."

(However, if my boss told me to knock it off, I would. My saying it won't make it happen anyway.)

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all walk around wishing each other happiness in whatever form that took without someone getting offended because we should all be wishing each other good fortune in the same way? (Humans, I tell ya!)

Like I said, whether she should have been fired is a different question. It sounds like she'd been warned and was still refusing to accept company policy. That's on her.

But as for me, I don't mind being told "Have a blessed day." Next time, I will respond, "Thank you. I wish you a mind that doesn't cling to anything."

Do you say "Have a blessed day"?

 

Image via Sean MacEntee/Flickr

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