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Fireman Is Fired First Day On The Job For Gift His Colleagues Thought Insensitive

A Detroit man had just completed his training and got his first job in a firehouse as a firefighter. In keeping with tradition, he came bearing gifts. Some of his co-workers felt his gift was offensive, however, and on his first day, the man was terminated. Some think the reaction to the man's faux pas was extreme.

Robert Pattison was all ready to start life in his new career as a firefighter. The Detroit, Michigan man arrived at Engine 55 firehouse on Sept. 30, his first day of work, and as tradition holds, he brought a snack with him.

When his black colleagues saw what Pattison brought, there was an uproar. Pattison didn't even get to finish out the day.

The unfortunate choice that the 41-year-old firefighter made was a watermelon. He brought the large melon into the station with a pink bow on top thinking it would be sliced up and passed around. Instead, black firefighters at the station thought Pattison was being racist.

During the period of segregation following the Civil War, black people were made fun of as having a fondness for certain foods, most notably fried chicken and watermelon. It was common for free black people to grow watermelon crops, and, of course, to eat them.

It became so common that they made the fruit a symbol of freedom.

White people responded with mockery. Before long, black people eating watermelon became a racially insensitive trope used in entertainment.

According to the Detroit Fire Department, they have a 'zero tolerance' policy for racism, and watermelons are racist.

"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," said a spokesperson. "After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee."

Second Battallion Chief Shawn McCarty told FOX 2 News that bringing a gift is not a requirement, but it's a common courtesy. Usually, people bring doughnuts. He thinks that there was an over-reaction to Pattinson's choice of snack.

“There are a few things that could have been done," said McCarty.

While the watermelon treat allegedly offended some black firefighters, others banned together in a show of support for Pattison. They got together with the white man for a group photo.

"Just want to let everyone know he's a real amazing dude and it was all good intentions," said Tadarius Spearman, one of the black firefighters. "And our entire class (is) supporting him in this. Especially us African-Americans and that's all that needs to be said. Stay up brother. #DFD."

Pattinson insists that he meant nothing offensive by bringing a watermelon and it wasn't meant to be a joke.

Some people like watermelon; it's very refreshing on a hot day. The case may have been just another case of political correctness run amok.

Source: NY Post
Photos: Fox 6, NY Post Screenshot

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