I was 16.
It was my first job.
At a bingo hall selling snacks and drinks to the people playing and to whatever organization was using the daily bingo games as fund raisers.
I dreaded working Wednesday nights because she was there.
She would make rude, sexually-explicit jokes at/to/around me. And everyone loved her for it. They thought she was hilarious. I guess they thought she was so funny because she was in her 70's. I laughed at her advances at the time because I was uncomfortable and I thought if I laughed along it would ease the tension and she would stop.
I caught her sneaking glances in my direction. When I would bend over to grab something down low, or when I would kneel down next to a customer (so I wouldn't be in the way of any screens showing the next number.) She'd position herself where she could watch me while I made my rounds/took orders/collected debts, etc.
Then came the comments:"
Boxers or briefs? Or nothing? No... Let me guess..."
"You should have worn the jeans you wore last week."
"If it's $1 for a candy bar how much for one night?"
Then came the "accidental touching". She'd bump into me or brush past me to cop a quick feel. I told my bosses but they were both females and thought I was overreacting or it was cute for a 70 year old lady to sexually harass and underage boy. They laughed it off.
Then came the actual groping. She would pinch or smack my ass as I walked past her. If I looked at her she'd reply with "Firm!" As if that was supposed to make me feel better. So, emotionally, I bottled it. I'd push it way, way down and try to forget about it. But it would all come back up next week. I tried switching shifts. Even going so far as to cover Thursday and Sunday for someone for my Wednesday (I worked Monday,Wednesday,Friday).
I tried telling her in private to stop. She'd say "Ok" and wink.
I tried saying out loud, in public after she'd touch me:
"Stop" She'd say things like "Not many men tell me that." and wink again. Everyone around would laugh.
And one day maybe two years later... I just snapped. She walked past me and smacked my ass. and I said "IF you EVER touch me again I'll see you in court. I have witnesses, I've made reports. I've talked to my bosses and I've logged every time you touched me. I. Will. Bury. You."
1. There were few bingo ladies who didn't hear me...
2. I didn't do any of things I said I did: I didn't have witnesses that would back me up. My bosses didn't file any reports. I didn't have a journal. I had nothing...
3. I was ostracized...
Few ladies would let me wait on them. I heard whispers whenever I'd walk past groups. I watched people look the other way when I'd look at them. I got less tips for about 6 months until everyone forgot about it.
She held no power over me, she couldn't make me lose my job or offer me a quick leg up in my 'profession'. Still, no one believed me.
Eventually I got my shift changed. And she never looked at me again.
I know a lot of people weren't/aren't as lucky as I was/am. There are still people who are suffering, struggling, fighting just to make a living. While they constantly live in fear. Terrified to say anything. I get it. I tried telling my bosses numerous times and they frequently said:
"She's not going to do anything"
"She doesn't mean anything by it."
"Oh she's only joking!"
Don't be quiet. Be heard...
I've done lots of things I'm not proud of... That was one I am really proud of. No matter what it cost me. I felt better about it in the long run.