Robert Pattison, 41, was in line to become a Detroit firefighter but was fired before he officially began his job after bringing a watermelon to work.
Typically, the newbies bring a welcome gift as part of “tradition” explained Second Battalion Chief Shawn McCarty.
“It’s not mandatory, it’s voluntary,” he said. “You come in bearing gifts. The usual gift is doughnuts, but you are allowed to bring whatever you want to bring in.”
Pattison, who was a probationary firefighter, decided to stand out from the crowd and bring a watermelon with a pink bow on top.
Some black firefighters at the Engine 55 firehouse, on the corner of Joy and Southfield in Detroit, were offended by Pattison’s gift, being the majority of the firefighters are black.
“When you get your first detail at a firehouse you pretty much know what you are getting yourself into,” said Patrick Trout. “So you would have to say it was probably a bad call.”
McCarty stated several people claimed it was “racially insensitive” bringing the watermelon to a firehouse.
Pattison argued that he did not bring in the watermelon as a joke and had no intention of offending his colleagues.
Fire Commissioner Eric Jones released an official statement of Pattison’s discharge: “There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department. On Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Engine 55, a trial firefighter (probationary employee) engaged in unsatisfactory work behavior which was deemed offensive and racially insensitive to members of the Detroit Fire Department. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee.”
Despite Commissioner Jones’s statement, McCarty does not think Pattison should have lost his job over a watermelon.
“I don’t think so,” McCarty said. “Between what he did and what was there are a few things that could have been done.”
It seems now even the slightest things will trigger our culture of PC pansies. Getting accepted to become a firefighter is hard work. There is nothing easy about it.
It is a shame Pattison lost his livelihood over thin-skinned losers.