Previously titled “A Marin County Ghost Story”. (what can I say; I was tired, this sounds better.)
Long ago in a faraway place called Marin County, I took a job selling Champion motor homes. My husband and I hadn’t been married that long, maybe 3 years. We had two toddlers. Money was tight. Because we were living in SF at the time and had only one car, my husband, who had met the man and found me this job, drove me there for what was supposed to be the first day of many, with idea I would take the bus back, a trip of at least an hour.
As many of you more savvy people might anticipate, after my husband left, the sexual innuendos began. So well ok, the guy is a jerk. It was the 70’s, free sex was all around, and I was 22. Pretty much for the entire day the sexual advances continued. I’m thinking I’ll just handle it and not come back. The lot closed and others left, one coming to say goodbye with an odd look.
It was time for me to go and catch the bus. He blocked the entrance to the motor home I was in. He was friendly, but blocking the entrance saying it’s too far to take the bus and he is going to give me ride home. So now the question, do I attempt to push by the guy or will this get worse? The lot was dark, my husband was an hour away, it was before cell phones, and he wasn’t going to let me in the office to make a call. He was pretty insistent at this point that we should have sex.
It was all so friendly and calm, it was the 70’s and sex wasn’t a big deal, HIV/AIDS wasn’t known yet. Even so, I didn’t want to have sex with this asshole. Was it better to keep it calm and friendly or could it escalate? So I made a bargain. I gave him a blowjob. Yes, it was still sex, but I didn’t have to get naked, I didn’t have to lie down. He didn’t touch my body. I could have bitten him, and run out, but in the 70’s in Marin County, in the dark, I might not have made it anywhere whole.
Afterwards he took me home. The next day he called my husband and apologized to him, not me. ( Had he thought my husband was offering me up?) I wouldn’t talk to him. He tried to tell my husband that he had a good wife and family and didn’t know why he did this. (Meaning he did it more than once?) He wanted my husband to feel sorry for him. In thinking about it, this incident may be one reason why I prefer to drive myself places.
Today in 2009, a lot of us, including me, would handle this kind of thing differently. However, even when we do our best to protect ourselves, there are times when we just don’t recognize the pattern until it is too late.
Why am I telling what will certainly be an icky story for my granddaughter to read? The answer is that I never told my older daughter. Now, as she is beginning a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employer, I realize I have left out some important information to pass on. We are strong women; we can survive just about anything.
However, don’t assume a sexual harasser can be managed. You shouldn’t have to. Just because you make it one day or the next doesn’t mean that if an opportunity arises a predator will refrain. After the second time you have to say no, start a journal. Complain to Human Resources. Don’t think sexual grooming happens only to children. If a sexual predator attempts to groom you and fails, don’t assume he will just leave you alone. Expect retaliation. The jails are full of people, mostly men, who are incredibly personable and have spent most of their years planning how to get you, and are very patient. Don’t manage, do what it takes to stop it. Whatever that is.