Yes, you read the title right. A 41 year old rookie firefighter lost his job after gifting a mainly black firefighter station with a watermelon. Robert Pattinson thought he’s introduced himself to his fellow firefighter brothers in Detroit with a wholesome gift. Normally, that would be a great gesture on your first day on the job. However it went all bad after Robert’s gift consisted of a big watermelon with a pink bow.
“When you get your first detail at a firehouse, you pretty much know what you are getting yourself into,” said Engine 55 firefighter Patrick Trout. “So you would have to say it was probably a bad call.”
Regardless, Pattison claims the gesture was not a joke and that he didn’t mean any offense, but he was still summarily dismissed.
“There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department,” said Fire Commissioner Eric Jones in a statement. “On Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Engine 55, a trial firefighter engaged in unsatisfactory work behavior which was deemed offensive and racially insensitive to members of the Detroit Fire Department.”
Some black firefighters were reportedly offended by Pattison’s decision in light of the prevalent stereotype linking African-Americans with watermelons that dates back to the era of slavery in the United States.
Disagreeing with the action that was taken, Second Battallion Chief Shawn McCarty doesn’t think the Fenton, Mich., native should’ve lost his job over the watermelon.
Said McCarty, “Between what he did and losing his job, there were a few things that could have been done.”