Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sexual Harassment at Tastee Twistee

I was reading about this topic in Deb's blog recently. I have experienced more than my share in the workplace, but I've never chosen to prosecute. (Life is short, time is sweet, and besides - there's no real money in it. Hey! I'm noble, but I'm not so noble that I have to clear the way for all my sisters out there. You're on your own. I'll support whatever you do, including kneecapping the jerk.)

I have a couple great stories, including the time that I was the only female executive in a male dominated company and still was expected to perform secretarial duties. Who knew that if you had a vagina you got to take phone messages and do light typing?

Anyway, this story happened when I was about 20 years old. Yeah, it was that long ago. :P

I was a perfume model for a large department store. This means that I had to look pretty and walk around extolling the virtues of whatever Cologne Of The Day we were promoting. I was at the front of the store when an entourage came strolling in.

The obvious leader of the entourage stopped when he saw me. I mean stopped, cold. The others grouped about him. He stared at me appraisingly and spoke in Spanish to a woman who translated for him. "He says that you may be exactly what he is looking for to promote his product," said the woman to me.

I won't name the product directly, but it was new to our market. It was a type of iced dessert. Let's call it Tastee Twistee. It turned out that he wanted a spokesmodel to show up at local events, and help promote Tastee Twistee. He offered to pay me twice what I was making as a perfume model and that's all it took for me to make up my mind. Sold!

I went on a couple gigs with different employees at first. But one day the owner did a gig with me, which was unusual. However, he was active in his business and friendly with everyone, so I didn't really think twice about it. We didn't communicate much, because his English was terrible and I knew very little Spanish. But for the most part, we were able to talk about the basics.

After the gig, as we were going home, he suggested that he take me out to dinner. It was late, I was starved, and (being naive) I thought he was an exceptionally nice boss to take me to Olive Garden.

Halfway through the meal, the conversation began to take an interesting turn. He asked if I liked clothing and jewelry. Well of course I do! What girl doesn't? Let's face it, guys. You may pretend otherwise, but you wish you could adorn yourselves like we do. Admit it! That's why rap stars are so busy throwing on the bling! They've got Vagina Envy, as Freud might say. If he was really drunk, that is.

So I said yes, and we began talking about what types of jewels were on my wish list. Then he began telling me about the country he was from, where jewelry was inexpensive and emeralds were readily available. From my perspective, we're talking about "a land flowing with milk and honey", so to speak.

He also brought up the proposal that I could start "tutoring" him in English. Not really, I said! I don't know Spanish! He argued that it wasn't necessary to know Spanish, which I found to be very odd. I recommended that he learn from the employee who was his translator during the day.

That's when he began talking expansively about how most men from his country keep mistresses, and that he could provide me lavishly with clothes and jewelry and a wonderful place to live.

I was married at the time, and I suggested slyly that it might be difficult for my husband to buy into the arrangement. I also indicated (very politely, since I didn't have another ride home and I didn't want to create a scene) that I was ready to go home.

As he dropped me off that night, he said "Goot bye, dahling! I luff you!" as I sprinted for my apartment where my husband patiently waited.

The next day I called his "translator" and told her of the incident. "I find that hard to believe," she said firmly.

"Well," I replied tartly, "I'm sorry that he hasn't approached you yet. Perhaps you're not his type. However, I assure you that it happened. I will not be returning to work."


Ed Abbey said...

I hear these kinds of stories quite regularly but never seem to be able to witness one. Never could understand how anyone could hit on someone else who was married. Doesn't that border on breaking two of the ten commandments, coveting and adultery? Talk about a sure fire ticket to someplace warm.

Christine said...

Wow, that's one interesting story!

I have a question though.
If he was limited in his knowledge of English, how did he communicate so well at Olive Garden?

He sounded very descriptive and articulate.
Was his interpreter there too?

Or was he one of those people who can suddenly speak and understand English when the benefits are worth the trouble?
Your charms made it worth it! ;-)

Saur♥Kraut said...

Christine, well, I've always been exceptionally good at understanding people who speak almost no English and I've often been thrown into situations where I encounter this. His English didn't get any better, I was just good at understanding what the hell he was saying. :P

Ed, You know, it's funny. If I see a guy that has a ring on his finger, or I know he's married, the attraction is completely turned off. I view him as a sexual equivalent to my brother and I would never dream of crossing that line. Same thing with guys who are, or were, dating my girlfriends. Off limits for eternity!

Notsocranky Yankee said...

There are slimy men everywhere.

At least he was up front in what he wanted and didn't attack you physically. (If there is anything positive in this!)

Miss Cellania said...

I've got a few stories like that as well. Back in the 70s, no one considered it sexual harassment when a man tried to hit on an employee. Now, if he used force, that was different. But there really was no concept of "duress" and "abuse of an authority position" in the popular lexicon. We worried about our jobs sometimes, but there was no real legal recourse back then. We've come a long way, baby.

michelle said...

Once a new doctor came to my desk to ask me why his name was not listed, but his partners name was. He was demaninding, talked down to us, stared daggers at us, you know the routine.

"Well Dr. Newby, did your assistant call in the order?"

"Yes Ms. Lower-than-me my assistant did all in the order."

"Well then Dr. Newby, did your assistant tell the staff which doctor to place on the order? I ask because Dr. Old-one has been around a long time and so has the assistant. When I hear your assistants voice I automatically think of Dr. Old-one. Perhaps the same is true for others."

"Fine Ms. Lower-than-me, who can fix this now!"

"Dr. Newby, let me take you to scheduling and see what we can do to make you happy."

We are now walking in the hall alone. Our earlier conversation took place in a large room with lots or workers and lots of patients and family memeber.

"Ms. Lower-than-me, I am not mad at you. I could never be mad at someone as pretty as you."

Ignoring him. "Dr. Newby, scheduling is just around the corner."

"Ms. Lower-than-me, did you hear what I just said? I said, I would never be mad at someone as pretty as you."

"Yes, Dr. Newby I did hear you...sigh"

And so the fun began...NOT!

Valerie - Riding Solo said...

I don't know why it is always the guys we don't want to shower us with gifts to get our favors that offer too...LOL!

michelle said...

When I am the boss will it be ok if I look at the guys and say, "Honey, those pants don't enhance your ass, you need to were your jeans tomorrow. Oh, and please bring me in some chips and salsa sauce."

Christine said...

It seems as though his communication skills improved tremendously once he decided to get into your pants!

Yeah, funny what a bit of motivation can do, right?

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jsull said...

A few male thoughts.
Some women take it to far, I mean sometimes if a man gives a woman a compliment then thats harrassment. Or if they tell a sexual joke or make sexualr refrences then thats sexual harrassment. Don't get me wrong I'm against it going to far. My bride, prior to being wed was stalked and it was very very bad for her so I can somewhat understand the emotional end of the deal.
why in the hell don't I get harrassed?????????
nevermind I just saw a mirror
ole j

EmmaSometimes said...

yikes. I'm thinking Forrest Gump here..


Lee Ann said...

I am glad your ex is getting help.
You are strong and smart the way you are handling it.

Ellen said...

You were probably more than right in your assessment of his intentions, and smart to end the business end of the relationship the next day. Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable is a big red flag! Glad you weren't color-blind that day.

mal said...

I am glad the EX is making progress and you should continue to keep your distance.

Sexual harassment has never been an issue for me. Part may be because I am good at smelling rats. I think the largest part of it is that I am physically intimidating. From what friends who are more normal sized have told me, I got off easy because of it.

michelle said...


DO NOT delete from sweetnsaur. Well if you do fine, just cut and paste and email to me first!!!

Edge said...

There's only one thing about being a woman that would appeal to me and that's the ability to have sex whenever I wanted. Women just don't know that this is possible.


Homo Escapeons said...

There is nothing new under the sun.
It is quite disturbing that our genetic programming is still in effect but that is how our species got here. Females can play at that game too and many have taken advantage of the same situation to create a better environment for their offspring.

This guy sounds like he is right out of Central Casting. Did he say "You look Mahvaloss!"

Bravo for having the prescence of mind to protect yourself and your dignity. If you are a beautiful woman you will need to maintain those skills because there are 3 billion other men on the planet.