When I was 15, I worked at a place called Richway, my 4th contiguous job I believe after Baskin-Robbins, Swenson’s and Save a Lot, as well as working on the farm in the summer for my father, and on the farm of the doctor my mother worked in FLA. Sounds like I was a go-getter at that age, it just seemed liked survival to me.
Richway was a good job, easy work, nice place, walking distance from my apartment. I knew people from my neighborhood who worked there. Today’s equivalent of Target or Kmart.
Everything was cool until a manager started taking an interest in me, in my work, offering me a move up in the store. Downey innocent that I was, it took me some time to figure out what was really going on. I thought they just liked me, as an employee.
Oy I was young.
One of the guys in the department kind of warned me when I came onboard, I picked up the vibe, but I didn’t really understand.
And when I didn’t get down on my knees or whatever this manager wanted, they started treating me like shit. I think they call that sexual-harassment these days.
I have to say it completely freaked me out at the time. I was clueless, and then humiliated, humiliated in a way I was entirely unprepared for. It was like, is this really happening, I almost didn’t believe it myself.
All these things were swirling in my head, Guy/Manager/mentor is not just coming on to me, he’s using his position and mine to get in my pants. And everybody knew what was going down, except me. Wait, does this mean I’m gay? My 15-year-old brain was overloaded.
Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. I was naïve enough to believe his praise and giving me creative things to do, didn’t carry a price. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried over this.
I don’t think I told anybody, not even my mother. It was just too much, and I felt real bad.
I’d went from being a star in the store, praise from the GM and District manager, a raise, the golden boy being groomed for management. To being the literal persona non grata.
Once it finally sunken what was happening, I got really angry. I was too humiliated to go to any of the top guys, and I didn’t think anyone would believe me anyway, I had no evidence.
And hey, I was 15, I just bought my first vehicle, a motorcycle, and I had to have a job to support it. And keep myself in the manner to which I’d become accustomed. :)
So I was not going to just quit without putting up a fight. I asked for a transfer to another department, Security. I knew some guys there. They put me on door security which is like the doorman, checking packages for receipts, A significant step down in the store from my previous position. It’s was a crossover job they said. Also it was the first time I tried to get security work. And it didn’t go well.
They needed me to take a background polygraph, and I was not in a state of mind where I should’ve been taking a polygraph, after what had happened. I did in fact freak out during the polygraph, I believe I had what is commonly describe today as a panic attack. And I didn’t get the job.
I think as I was going through all this, I was in denial about what was happening.
Basically I got pushed out of the store and the company because I wouldn’t fuck the manager, and for being naïve at 15.
Yeah, fuck you Richway!
I suppose if something like this happened today, the 15-year-old me would have more recourses in dealing with it. Right?