Wednesday, November 07, 2007

He Works for the Government. He can't be Fired.

A funny thing happened to me on the way home the other day. Cue drum. Ba dum bum.
I was in the Charlotte airport waiting to board my plane when a man caught my eye. Not like that! He looked familiar. Had I sat across from him in some banal meeting at Company A many months ago? Hmm... I just couldn't shake this feeling.

I boarded the plane and there he was sitting right next to me. Fate? Now I never strike up conversations with strange men but I was just couldn't let go of the idea of how familiar this guy looked to me so I spoke up. Turns out the guy lives in my neighborhood and we have probably seen each other around town. Nothing big. Then he threw out there that he used to work for the Department of Defense.

"Me too." I replied.
"Oh well I worked in the Hoffman Building." He answered, as if I wouldn't know it.
"Wow. So did I!"
"I worked in the wage department you probably..." I interrupted him right there. "SO DID I!"

The year I was born this man took the job that I would later have as my first job out of college. He started out with the same people who would later be the higher ups when I got there. We worked with many of the same people. Including my evil boss. The man who punished me (yes,really), made other women cry daily and basically caused so much grief I left after 11 months and filed a sexual harassment report. That job while it had some great moments (loads of travel with other early twenty-somethings)was a nightmare. It spoiled me for a long time. I was so warped on what a boss should be like and how you should conduct yourself in an office it was awful. He would ask us to wear low-cut shirts and short skirts. He would punish us with no work and keep us from office get togethers and travel just because we denied him entry into our hotel rooms. He was a monster.

I relayed this briefly to this man I didn't know on a crowded plane and you know what? He understood. He had to deal with it too. He dealt with the women in his office for years suffering under this jackass. He eventually left partially due to this same man. The coincidence of it all was just so bizarre. After more conversation it was relayed to me that old boss-man isn't faring so well. He is in fact dying. This is quite sad. It is sad in the sense that a human being is suffering and so is the family around him that loves him. He has children who love him. Can I deny that the idea of 'you reap what you sow' crossed my mind? No I cannot. It flashed like a neon sign in my brain for quite some time. Is that wrong?

For years this man emotionally and mentally mind-f*cked women. He berated them and made them feel as low as dog sh*t on the bottom of one's shoe. Lower even. Countless people left their jobs at this office because of this man. But as H said last night, "He can't be fired, he works for the government." It's true. When I filed my complaint he had 23 years in and all he got was a slap on the wrist. A tap really. When I filed about seven other women came forward that very same day and that was all he got. A verbal reprimand. Nothing more.

It's all water under the bridge now. I marveled at what a small world it is on meeting this man who looked familiar but I am simply amazed at the coincidence we share and the sameness of our situation. It makes me sad that a government such as ours, an office that modern, could employ and keep such a Cretan for so long. How powerless we all felt in that situation as women. Young women.

Today I fight the urge to feel a sense of righteousness over the outcome of it all. Now he officially cannot return to work. It's like a comedic tragedy playing out right in front of me.

* On a much lighter note see this great review for Effie's Heart. Kimo's clothing is to die-for. I am in love with the red coat! Also, I'll be a guest on Motherhood Uncensored's radio show tonight at 9 p.m. with featured guest, author Ann Dunnewold, of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box. An amazingly helpful book folks so check us out tonight.

Listen to Kristen Chase, a former musician and college professor now pilot widow and stay-at-home-parent, talks about all things mom (and not-so-mom) in this bi-monthly podcast featuring your favorite bloggers, authors, entrepreneurs, and all-around cool people. Her no-more-mrs.-nice-mom take on motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Weak bladders, however, are  welcome.   on internet talk radio


  1. What a horrible experience. It is hard to get fired from the feds, because they have to offer you treatment for your "illness" or issue, and you have to tell the person that you are uncomfortable with their behavior. Stupid, I know, but I work around a bunch of men (Corps of Engineers), and when I tell them to back off, they do (thankfully). Maybe POSH training is finally working? Or maybe the "old men" who are stuck in their ways are finally retiring/ed.

    That being said, it is sad that anyone who have that experience with their government-- whether employed by them or recieving their service. Hugs for that...and a proverbial kick in the balls to the jerk who was harassing you.

  2. interesting post, thanks for sharing it here

  3. Oh I can so relate to the traumatic horrible PTSD-inducing sexual harassment crap job. Guys in the private sector only gets wrist slaps, too. They slapped his wrist with one hand while settling $$$ with countless women with the other hand.

    It was cheaper to pay off the traumatized harassed women because he earned more than they cost.

    Sucks eh?

    What a weird small world to meet that man.

    And as for feeling guilty about "reaps what you sow?"

    Here's a song for you (sorry it's long):

    Nothing, from A Chorus Line

    I'm so excited because I'm gonna go
    to the High School of Performing Arts!
    I mean, I was dying to be a serious actress.
    Anyway, it's the first day acting class-
    and we're in the auditorium and the teacher,
    Mr. Karp... Oh, Mr. Karp...
    Anyway, he puts us up on the stage with
    our legs around each other,
    one in back of the other and he says:
    "Okay... we're going to do improvisations.
    Now, you're on a bobsled. It's snowing out.
    And it's cold...Okay...GO!"

    Ev'ry day for a week we would try to
    Feel the motion, feel the motion
    Down the hill.

    Ev'ry day for a week we would try to
    Hear the wind rush, hear the wind rush,
    Feel the chill.

    And I dug right down to the bottom of my soul
    To see what I had inside.
    Yes, I dug right down to the bottom of my soul
    And I tried, I tried.

    And everybody's goin' "Whooooosh, whooooosh ...
    I feel the snow... I feel the cold... I feel the air."
    And Mr. Karp turns to me and he says,
    "Okay, Morales. What did you feel?"

    And I said..."Nothing,
    I'm feeling nothing,"
    And he says "Nothing
    Could get a girl transferred."

    They all felt something,
    But I felt nothing
    Except the feeling
    That this bullshit was absurd!

    But I said to myself, "Hey, it's only the first week.
    Maybe it's genetic.
    They don't have bobsleds in San Juan!"

    Second week, more advanced, and we had to
    Be a table, be a sportscar...
    Ice-cream cone.

    Mister Karp, he would say,"Very good,
    except Morales. Try, Morales,
    All alone."

    And I dug right down to the bottom of my soul
    To see how an ice cream felt.
    Yes, I dug right down to the bottom of my soul
    And I tried to melt.

    The kids yelled, "Nothing!"
    They called me "Nothing"
    And Karp allowed it,
    Which really makes me burn.

    The were so helpful.
    They called me "Hopeless",
    Until I really didn't know
    Where else to turn.

    And Karp kept saying,
    "Morales, I think you should transfer to Girl's High,
    You'll never be an actress, Never!" Jesus Christ!

    Went to church, praying, "Santa Maria,
    Send me guidance, send me guidance,"
    On my knees.

    Went to church, praying, "Santa Maria,
    Help me feel it, help me feel it.
    Pretty please!"

    And a voice from down at the bottom of my soul
    Came up to the top of my head.
    And the voice from down at the bottom of my soul,
    Here is what it said:

    "This man is nothing!
    This course is nothing!
    If you want something,
    Go find another class.

    And when you find one
    You'll be an actress."
    And I assure you that's what
    Fin'lly came to pass.

    Six months later I heard that Karp had died.
    And I dug right down to the bottom of my soul...
    And cried.
    'Cause I felt... nothing.

    Using My Words

  4. Ugh. Federal civil servants. Messing up peoples' lives with no consequences. I'm breaking out in hives just thinking about our next tangle with them.


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