Monday, March 24, 2008
Taking a Stand
Now that Easter has passed, and as we await Ascension Sunday, there is much to be done. Mac and I spent the day in the yard planting flowers and preparing other beds for vegetables. It was exhausting but so elating to watch Mac enjoying his time knee deep in dirt, fertilizer and plants. He seems to feel so much better, and I doubt he can fool me. I believe it is just that we arise so early (never up later than 6:30, we go full tilt till noon). Mac doesn't rest, he just keeps on keeping on. Today though, I had to stop to go to the grocers for things I had neglected to restock for the week ahead. After parking the truck near the front door of the store, I walked in the front door and purposely grabbed one of the smaller grocery buggies, knowing that if I took the large one I would most likely fill it to the brim. I kept the list in my head "butter, chicken stock, eggs, teabags...and sugarfree popsicles." I don't think I got one thing that I didn't have on the list. It must have been a first for me. I pushed the buggy over to the young cashier who had only one other person in line. Someone got in line behind me and began talking to the cashier, who appeared to be around the age of sixteen or seventeen. He kept making advances verbally to her, over my shoulder, in my ear...what are you fixing me for dinner, you fix dinner I'll do dessert lets watch a movie blah blah blah and on and on till I thought "if she doesn't scream, I may." This went on for awhile and she was trying to ring me up and acting more and more uncomfortable with this man's odd banter. It wasn't exactly the words he used, it was the way he used them, not willing to have her do anything but enter into his game. She clearly didn't want to, and I glanced behind me and noticed that he wore the uniform of the store. So, he was a customer (about to purchase a soda) but first of all he was a co-worker who should have known better. All I could think about was my daughters (in-law), my granddaughter, my nieces and great nieces, all these young women (my granddaughter and a few of my nieces are not even in their teens) and what they may have to put up with in the workplace now or in the future. So I said to the young Cashier "I don't know if he's bothering you but he's annoying the hell out of me." She smiled rather nervously at me and finished ringing up my order. I told her I had forgotten something and would park the buggy at the end of her register and be back. I went back and picked up something, I don't even remember what, and when I returned to her register the offensive little man was now gone and as I paid for my item I asked her if the co-worker was her boyfriend. She said no. I asked her if she was familiar with Sexual Harassment laws and told her she didn't have to put up with such nonsense. She told me that while it was embarrassing, it was just "his way" he didn't mean anything by it, really. Uh huh. So I made up my mind that if she couldn't stand up for herself (and at her young age it would have been intimidating I'm sure to make "a thing" of it. But you have to stand up sometimes, you can't let these things get a foothold or they only get worse. I told her I'd like to see the manager, that I wanted to make a complaint about his actions and how he had made ME feel on her behalf. The bagger who was standing there told me he was not in at the time, and I nodded and said okay, and left the store. I was so revolted by what I had witnessed in the store that I found myself trembling as I headed for home. I told Mac about what had occurred and he, being the man I always knew him to be, told me I needed to report it. I have never been so proud of him. I told him I fully intended to and thanked him for his support of my decision. I called the store and left a message for the manager to call me on a matter of importance. Then I called the District Headquarters and filed a formal complaint with them, in detail. A little later on I received a call from someone who said they were the assistant manager. I told him that I was waiting to hear from the manager, that he was the only one with whom I cared to discuss the matter . I may have been wrong, but I believed the voice to be the one that had drifted over my shoulder, into my ear on it's puerile way to the young girl at the cash register. I hope she knows that I am not trying to make trouble for her. I wanted to protect her the only way I knew how...with my actions. No person trying to make a living, or earn their college money should have to put up with that type of behavior in the work place, be it a woman or a man...it can happen to men too, don't kid yourself. It can happen on any job site, but usually there are no witnesses because the harassers learn early to ply their trade in secret. I once heard it said that if you didn't stand for something, you'd fall for anything. So today I climbed on my soapbox. I feel amazingly clean.