If you checked social media today, you probably saw people talking about the #metoo movement. Started by Alyssa Milano in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it gives women an opportunity to share their stories about sexual harassment/assault. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.
I didn’t want to post a “me too” status on Facebook because I don’t consider myself a survivor or even a victim because, thankfully, I was able to bob and weave and totally avoid a situation. I felt like a bandwagoner.
I still wanted to share my story because although short and small, women go through things like this every day. And the shit needs to stop.
When I worked at the vet’s office, there was a guy who worked in the back. Cleans the kennels, cleaned up accidents, walked the boarders, etc. We’ll call him Homer.
Part of my job was to take the charts of the incoming patients to the back so that the doctor knew who was next. I had to pass through the x-ray room, which also had the washing machine, a sink, and the tub where we the animals were bathed. If someone was standing at the washing machine, sink, or at the x-ray table, it was kind of a tight squeeze to get past each other.
And if we’re being honest, I’m a big girl so I would try to avoid having to go through there when someone else was coming through because I always felt like I was squishing them. #bodyissues.
Anyway, I don’t remember how long I had been working there the first time this happened, but one time, I was trying to get past Homer to get through to the other room and as I passed, our butts unavoidably touched and I felt like he pushed his harder into mine.
“Hmm. There must be less room to pass than I thought.” “Am I really that big?” ran through my head.
It happened a few more times, but by now I knew/was realizing that there was enough room to pass and no, I wasn’t that big.
I tried to keep it cordial but I was hyper-aware of Homer. I’m always giving little smiles or little looks of “I don’t want to be here either” just to form a bit of camaraderie with my co-workers. And because I like to smile and make faces. I started to check myself before I gave Homer a little smile or look because I didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. I also started to make sure someone, usually the doctor’s right-hand man, was always nearby, if not in the same room. I didn’t feel like this about any of the other vet techs/ kennel guys so, red flag.
For a while, I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t feel victimized. A little uneasy, yea but not in clear and present danger. Finally, it was happening too much for my liking and I also didn’t need another reason to hate this job. I told my mom what was going on. I asked if I was overreacting because it was never more than him getting too close when I passed. I also admitted that I had started doing it back just to see if it was 1) in my head, 2) a form of aggression. Like, if I gave it right back, maybe he would stop? I don’t know. She told me that no, I wasn’t overreacting and if it kept up, to talk to the doctor about it.
I was nervous to tell the doctor because although I don’t think he would have dismissed me, I don’t know if anything would be immediately done. I’ve heard Homer and the doctor fight before and let me tell you, it gets LOUD. Not that I cared if they screamed at each other, even if it was my fault. If you’re getting that defensive, it usually means you’re guilty of something, right? I was also worried that if the doctor confronted him for me, he would get mad and do something else/worse to me.
About 2 weeks after I told my mom what was going on, I got a new job (my current job) so I made the break and never said anything. I feel like I did the other receptionist and the intern (the only other women who work there) a disservice so for that I feel bad. I have a feeling though that they didn’t have the same experience I did because even though I didn’t know them for a long time, they both seemed the type to nip that situation in the bud.
So, that’s my story.
I often wonder what would have happened if I never got a new job. Would he have persisted? Would it have just stopped? Gotten worse? What if the doctor DID dismiss me? I’m really not sure and very relieved that I didn’t have to find out. Some women can’t get out so easy. No one should have to worry about this. Or feel like they won’t be believed.
It HAS to stop.