I have been following the accounts of women who have been subjected to various forms of sexual harassment in their work places these past several days. My Facebook is loaded with friends who have posted, “ME TOO.”
While I always knew in some form these kinds of incidents were happening, I didn’t realize it was occurring to the extent it was. I’m probably going to get a little blow-back for my thoughts on this, but I wish to preface my thoughts by telling you about my own experience in this regard.
In 1965, I was a young bride, who had returned to work as an insurance policy rater and typist a couple months after having given birth to a son. My husband was working 5 hours each evening at the local DMV while going to college full time. We needed the security of my job. Late one afternoon, while serving my turn cleaning the coffee station prior to the end of the day, I found 4 of our male employees, including the Vice President of Claims sitting at the circular table in the room near the coffee pot. As I walked an almost full pot of very hot coffee over to the table, I hoped to refill their cups prior to cleaning up the machine. It was then the vice president decided to put his hand up my skirt while smiling at the other men. The experience in my head was one where I instantly saw a threat to my job, coupled together with reaction. My reaction prevailed in the form of pouring the hot coffee into the vice president’s lap. I put the empty pot down on the table in front of him, and quickly walked into the president’s office, and told him what had just occurred. I told him if I was going to be fired for it, to please let me know. The president smiled slightly, and did not threaten me with the loss of my job. I suspect the vice president had an interesting discussion with his wife that evening about the injury to his upper thighs and other sensitive areas.
I have worked all years since that incident without any further incident. I have been fortunate to work with wonderful men, who demonstrated respect for women in the workplace - Amazing bosses, supervising brokers, and co-workers. I am grateful to all of them, especially in light of horror stories being reported in the media these past few weeks.
My advice to women who are enduring this kind of harassment in the work place - QUIT! No job is worth it. If you feel you must report it on the way out the door, then do so. Perhaps, you will be encouraged to stay. The good news is there are other jobs out there. You do not need to endure continued abuse!
Looking back, I have one additional suggestion. Leave the coffee pot full. Mayhem isn’t exactly a perfect answer either! And, my coffee pot incident has made me reluctant to say, “Me too.”