Many men in power have done many crude things to many women. Now some of these women are talking, and some of their stories are years old. The question on lots of people’s minds is, “Why’d they wait so long?”
I am in no way trying to belittle any of these women or make light of their incidents. My story isn’t nearly as bad as any of theirs.
But it is a story.
My first job was at KFC. It’s the most important job I’ve ever had. Teens learn heaps working in fast food: showing up on time, dealing with angry customers, cleaning bathrooms, washing piles of dishes, carrying boxes of frozen stuff and taking orders from bosses that hate you because your football team beat theirs 15 years ago. If you can find the time, you might cook some of the Colonel’s chicken. Mostly, I learned that I didn’t want to work at KFC any longer than I had to.
We used an industrial-sized can opener to open giant cans of ketchup and pickles. My cranky supervisor — who hated me because I went to a different high school — had to teach me how to operate this weird contraption.
I opened cans slowly because I didn’t want to spill anything on my uniform. As I prepared some peaches, I felt somebody behind me wrap arms around my waist. Then this somebody started breathing hot air into my ear and massaging my neck.
“Let me show you how to use this thing. Wow, you’ve got nice shoulders. Do you play football?” I turned around, and it wasn’t any of the dorks I worked with. It was the franchise owner. “Oh, you’re good looking, too.”
That’s it. Afterward, I probably scurried off to mop some toilets or polish the sneeze guard.
Is my little story as horrible as any of the ladies’ tales of perverted men in power? Not at all. Did this haunt me? Not really.
But the big question is, why didn’t I tell anybody? This is where I can sort of understand how these women took so long to speak up about their terrible experiences.
I never told anybody because my teenage self was worried if word spread that some drooling lecher groped me that people would think I was gay. Or that I liked it. That’s why.
What if I had to worry about people thinking I was asking for it? Or I was a giant slut who enjoyed it but now regretted it? Maybe I’m just a gold digger looking to cook fries instead of defrosting Double Downs.
If a dopey-looking 17-year-old dude covered in zits and smelling like chicken grease can get creeped on by a weird old guy who owns a KFC, how many times does it happen to a 17-year-old girl in everyday life? Or any woman?
I’ll never understand a fraction of what it means to be a woman, and I don’t really want to. But I do understand that this incident was uncomfortable. What if something like this happened more than once, but with different perverts? What would I have done if this freak multiplied his advances?
What would you do?