After graduating from college, I moved to Nashville, and developed my own #meToo story, filled with sexual harassment and an attempt to dissolve my self esteem.
My first real job was as an assistant to a wannabe business mogul who owned a recruiting company. At the interview, he seemed normal and nice. There was nothing that I saw from him that indicated there was any red flags that I should be aware of. Plus, I was so eager to move and start adult life, that I’d been willing to take a job as a janitor.
I’ve always interviewed well, so I wasn’t surprised when I got the job. I moved all my things into a cute three bedroom apartment in East Nashville. I seemed to be making enough money to support myself, so that was really cool, but like I said, shit was about to get crazy.
By the end of the year, I’d have a 60-year-old truck driver living in my basement that the maintenance man found. But, we’ll save that story for another day.
My first day of work, I almost got stabbed by a homeless guy carrying a knife. I was having coffee with my new boss’s old assistant, when he came walking up to us carrying a weapon. He asked for money, which I showed him I did not have on me. Obviously there was a mental issue going on, so I spoke calmly to him and he eventually walked away.
Based on what happened over the next few months, I probably would’ve rather been stabbed by a rusty knife.
Day 2: I had a 7:00 a.m. meeting with Josh, my new boss. We went to one of the nicer restaurants in Nashville for breakfast where we proceeded to get to know each other a little better.
I told him normal things about myself like: I love to read, write creative stories, hangout with my friends, and shop for antiques.
Josh, on the other hand, apparently felt the need to explain that he did NOT have a small penis.
“The first thing you need to know about me is that I love blondes with huge tits,” he leaned over at the table looking at me directly in the eyes to gauge my reaction.
Well, I had one of those two things at the time.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This was literally my first meeting with my boss, who had apparently Anamorphed into a sexist pig directly after I was hired.
“My old assistant was blonde with the biggest boobs you’ve ever seen in your life. God, she was such a hot piece of ass. One night, I got really really drunk and decided to text her. I asked her to come to the office to meet me, so my wife wouldn’t find out. She had a thing for me, too, you know. She wanted me. But, see I was married and had a baby on the way,” he took a breath.
He was saying this in one giant long sentence without pause. It was like he was just dying to explain that he almost got laid once, and it was like the coolest story anyone had ever heard.
I cannot control my facial expressions, no matter how hard I try. I was cringing out of my seat, while my face resembled this symbol:
“Any way, I tell her to meet me there. When I got there, I realized, I left my keys to the office back at the bar. So, I couldn’t get in. I honestly believe God blessed me that night to not cheat on my wife. I mean not while we were married at least. I did cheat on her when we were dating. She ended things, but we got back together later on after I got some counseling,” he continued exposing himself as a complete douche.
I was still speechless at this point, so I didn’t have anything to say back.
“So, when I saw you, I knew that as a brunette, there’s no way I’d even be a little tempted,” he loudly sighed with relief and laughed obnoxiously.
Yes, it is difficult to resist man boobs and Short Man Syndrome. I guess he’d just have to avoid all the passes I’d make at him for the time being, considering my hair wasn’t blonde then.
If only he’d really see me for who I was – my giant boobs.
A person from another table over started to stare at us. They must have not had their morning coffee yet. Well that, or they overheard our entire conversation and were sending out distress signals with their eyes.
By now I had a pretty solid understanding of what my relationship with Josh would be like. He proceeded to tell me about 900 enthralling and action-packed stories about women he’d slept with and what a stud he was.
You know, casual conversations that everyone has over coffee with their new boss.
Considering I’m an normal human being, who also happens to be a woman and a feminist, it was apparent that we weren’t really going to be each other’s cup of tea.
About three weeks into the job, his CFO, who was a woman, sat me down to have a “talk.”
“Hi, Hannah. Josh wanted me to talk to you about a few things. So, I notice that you aren’t really wearing a ton of makeup and lipstick when you come in. Do you mind just wearing a bit more? He likes his assistant to look a certain way. He’s used to high heels, red lips, and a pencil skirt. It just looks more professional. He doesn’t want his assistant wearing pants or flats. He just doesn’t like that look,” she said in a serious tone.
“Sorry, looking like hot secretary from a porno really isn’t in my wheelhouse,” I thought.
Instead, I just replied with a simple “no.”
“Excuse me?” she responded, bewildered that I told her no.
“Yeah, I’m not going to change anything about myself. The way I look and appear has nothing to do with the quality of my work. I’m always on time, I’m constantly available to him, even into the late hours of the night. I’m sorry, I’m not here to be aesthetically pleasing,” I told her.
I didn’t want to sound cocky, but I know I don’t look like shit. Anyone who knows me, knows that I always look polished and well-presented, so this was entirely absurd.
“Okay, well I’ll refer that information to him, but he’s not going to like it,” she continued.
“Great. And for future notice, if Josh has an issue with the way I look, he should tell me himself,” I said, walking out the door.
Instead of fleeing to the “HR department,” which he operated, I was so enraged that I texted my dad and told him I was walking out the door, which is what I eventually did.
As the hours in the day went on, my simmer turned into a boil. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I walked straight into his “off-limits” office for a little discussion of my own.
“I can’t tolerate working here any more. I want severance pay,” I stated.
His face paled over to a sheer shade of white. He knew he was in trouble.
“I’m sorry you feel that way. I guess that conversation didn’t exactly go the way I wanted it to. All I meant is that I have an image to maintain,” he fumbled for words.
“Several times you’ve made comments about my appearance and the fact that I’m not your type. Berate me all you want, but you aren’t going to blow my confidence. I’m sorry, I’m not going to wear heels and tight clothes to work in. We are in a professional work environment. You should be ashamed of yourself,” I said, closing out the argument.
I could feel the heat radiating from my face.
That was the last I saw of him. He paid me the money I asked for, so I wouldn’t file a lawsuit.
I later saw on LinkedIn that he hired a blonde as his next secretary. It’s probably best to stick with what you know.
Sexual harassment and/or assault anywhere, anytime, from anyone is not okay.
I ended up losing a huge source of my income and got stuck in a bad situation for about a year because I worked for this idiot.
He tried to beat me down, break my confidence, and change the person that I am. #meToo exposed this horrific spectrum from catcalling to rape. In some shape or form, I would be bold enough to say that every woman that I know has suffered from abuse.
It shouldn’t just be victims’ responsibility to change this culture or behavior. We can take a stand for ourselves, but it’s going to keep happening if people don’t change, aren’t educated, and continue to ignore what’s going on around them.
On a positive note, I have hope that things are changing. I’m so proud of my state for electing Doug Jones for Senate and proving that we aren’t just complicit with the state of our current political and social culture. We can do better, and with nights like last night, I believe we will.
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