Can You Say Sexual Harassment?


I was a sheltered girl. I'd never seen an R-rated movie and the closest thing to a naked man I'd ever seen was when D.F. mooned us in high school.
After a year at Ricks College, I decided I wanted to go on a mission. Because I'd be out at the same time as my younger brother, I knew this would place a financial burden on my family, so I decided to stay at home for the next year and work. This proved to be a good thing in many ways. I saved a lot of money, made some good friends, and was at home for the last year of my brother Bruce's life.
To earn as much as possible, I worked two jobs. During the week, I drove ten miles from my home in Lawson to meet the carpool in Excelsior Springs. From there it was a forty minute drive to a construction equipment sales and rental company in the industrial area of Kansas City. On Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday after church, I worked at The Elms, a beautiful, historic hotel and restaurant. I was the hostess in the Meadowlark Dining Room. (This was definitely my favorite of the two jobs as most nights, one of the waiters would smuggle me a bowl of French onion soup and a piece of chocolate cheesecake.)
But I digress. This story is about the construction equipment company. This wasn't a fancy place. Repairs took place through the doors just behind my desk and the place smelled of machinery and oil. With the exception of the office staff, all of the employees were men, and not genteel and refined men either. The language was rough, shocking to my sheltered ears. Most of the women in the office smoked. The woman that sat closest to me sometimes forgot she had a cigarette lit at her computer station and would light another one at her desk, even as her first cigarette smoldered just a few feet away.
I was the billing clerk, but when the receptionist took lunch or breaks, I moved to the front desk and took over her duties. Each day, as the men would come in from lunch, they'd stop at the front desk to retrieve their messages and say something a little flirty. Sometimes it was fine. Sometimes it was embarrassing. I was always happy to go back to my billing desk.
One Friday afternoon, three of the men came back together. They were usually loud and boisterous after lunch on Friday, having tipped back a few too many drinks with lunch. That Friday was no exception. The only difference was that two of them stopped for their messages, while the third went directly to his office.

"KAREY! BRING MY MESSAGES IN HERE, WILL YA?" the man yelled from his office a few minutes later.
I picked up his stack of messages and walked to his office. There he stood, completely naked, save his boots with white socks peeking over the top. He was casually sitting on the front of his desk, just a few feet from where I stood.
OH. MY. CRAP!!! I thought as I turned and walked back to the front desk, my face on fire and my entire body shaking like a leaf.
"KAREY, COME ON BACK HERE, HONEY. I JUST WANT YOU TO BRING ME MY MESSAGES. COME ON, HONEY. BRING THOSE BACK HERE." (Now read that paragraph again, with a slow, slurred and creepy voice.)
I spent the rest of the day in a daze. Had I driven myself to work, I'm sure I'd have left immediately, but I had to wait for my carpool.
That was my last day at the construction equipment company. I never went back. Luckily, The Elms gave me more hours and I spent the rest of that year working only one job.
This happened long before Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill made 'sexual harassment' household words. I don't think he'd get away with that kind of behavior in today's world. It's a very unpleasant image that has probably scarred me for life.

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1 comment:

Scott / Lori said...

OH HELP! I cannot even imagine, nor do I want to. Sorry for the lasting scars in your mind. Yucky.