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If you're here for my artwork I suggest you follow my art blog instead as this blog is a mishmash of silliness and personal posts.
This blog can and will contain artwork (mine and others), personal posts, occasional fandom posts, cute animals, selfies, and social justice sometimes.
I am dealing with depression and anxiety and sometimes might talk about it.
If you ever need someone to talk to or share your problems with, my ask box is open to you.
I think this post has been long in coming. I tell bits of it at a time, but instead of recounting it over and over again to people wanting to know, I will probably just use this to reference them to it so they will know without me having to recall every detail.
So, this started when I was around twenty years old. I had just lost a job at a bakery and really needed to get a job quickly so I could continue to pay for my college education without getting loans. I applied for Wal-Mart and got a pretty quick call back. I went in for the interview a week after applying.
The manager who interviewed me — we’ll call him Matt — seemed to really take to me. I assumed it was because of my natural charm, charisma and intelligence. I was to be quickly disillusioned the rest of my natural life, but particularly in this case.
So I started work and I noticed right away that he seemed to take an interest in me. He was always checking to see if I liked my work and if I was happy. I thought maybe he was a good manager and just trying to please his employees, but I started to feel as though he was paying extra special attention to me. I tried not to assume anything.
Then, I started to hear rumors around the store about how he had hit on and generally sexually harassed other girls that worked in the store. Apparently, no young girl really stayed in his department long without complaining on him.
However, I assumed that he couldn’t be that bad. Surely, if he was really harassing other girls, the store would have fired him, right? These girls were probably reading too much into the actions of a socially awkward man. I didn’t think that they did it on purpose but at the time I fancied myself more understanding of people who didn’t understand social boundries and surely that’s all it was.
Well, one day I was 30 minutes late. I was supposed to get a ride from my now-sister-in-law and her work refused to let her out at the time she was supposed to get off. As a result she was late to pick me up and drop me off at work.
I called and explained the situation to my other manager, Travis, who was below Matt but above me. When I finally clocked in and arrived at my station, Matt and Travis were talking. I immediately walked up and apologized to both of them and explained the situation to Matt.
He took my hand and told me it was completely okay. And then he… didn’t let go. I even tried to gently pull my hand away but he held onto it and just kept talking. I didn’t outwardly show how much I was freaking out because I wanted my goddamn body part back but he was just holding onto it and stroking the top of it. Finally I got him to let go only for him to take me by the shoulders and pull me into a side hug.
I was feeling a little dazed and confused at this point and starting to feel like maybe the other girls who had complained had something to their story. However, I felt like I had no proof and just decided to not worry about it.
So time passed and he would come and talk to me sometimes. I discovered through his incessant rambling to me that he had a wife and six kids. His oldest kid was twenty three. Another manager said he was having problems with his wife.
I worked in the evenings and he was working mornings for awhile so I usually only saw him when he was out and I was coming in. However, there was a shift change, as there frequently was, and the managers all traded time slots. He started to work closing and it got creepy again.
He would hold closing meetings and dole out work to all the other employees and end the meeting by saying “Except you Maggie. Don’t worry about doing any of that stuff.” Then he’d smile at me and end the meeting. The other employees scorned me for this.
One night, there were two of us working produce due to a scheduling error and the closing worker for meat had quit and they hadn’t replaced him yet. So Matt recruited me to work meat instead.
He took me into the meat locker and explained how to work the department, which was simple. Finally, he finished explaining and we were standing in the freezer together when suddenly he started talking and the entire atmosphere changed.
I couldn’t tell you what he said now but I just remember thinking I am alone in this freezer with this man and no one would hear me if I screamed right now. I do remember that he kept complimenting me. Not my work, but my looks and my personality and other things that are not appropriate for a manager to tell an employer. I freaked out. He kept stepping towards me and I kept shifting back. I think he honestly tried to go in for a kiss and I just quickly said “Oh well, I guess I better go—” and walked away.
So at this point I was kind of freaked out and not sure what to do. I told my friends and all of them told me I should report him to the store manager. I said no, no, surely he’s just unaware of his actions. If he was attracted to me, that wasn’t his fault right? Maybe he thought he had a chance. Maybe I had DONE something to make him think he had a chance. Maybe I was at fault somehow. I would just have to play it straight and make it clear I wasn’t interested.
So after a few weeks in the meat department I got to start working produce again. In produce, we tended to do free samples a lot. You know, the trays with the lids on them and you can reach in and sample what’s inside? Well, I was in charge of preparing the samples, so I was in the back at the counter cutting up a cantaloup and putting the chunks in sample cups when Matt walked into the back.
I said hi and he said hi back and walked over. I felt tense and stiff because he began to talk to me. He sang “Maggie May” to me randomly. He actually would do that to me a lot. He’d walk up to me and just bust out with “Maggie I think I have something to saaay to yoooou!”
Which I looked up the lyrics to that awful song and that made it kind of worse.
So he busts out in it and starts talking about how that’s not a very good song for me and that’s not how he feels about me. I just nod and try to respond as little as possible.
So he walks over and presses his entire body against me backside, puts his hand on my shoulder and says “Maggie, I just want you to know you are a very beautiful girl and you have a great personality.”
I thought I was going to burst into tears then and there. I felt so confused and helpless and uncertain. I didn’t want to turn around because he would be RIGHT THERE when I turned. He was my manager so I didn’t want to SAY anything. What if he took offense and fired me? The chances of me finding another job in the town I was in was really slim.
So I just muttered a confused “thank you” when someone else walked in and he immediately crossed the room like nothing had happened. I said I had to go to the restroom and sat on a toilet freaking out for twenty minutes.
I came back and started looking for a co-worker, Rebecca, who was a middle aged lady with a son my age and had always acted motherly to me and always had her eye on Matt when I was around because she didn’t trust him. I never even told her the stuff that happened but she seemed to be suspicious of it.
So I was looking for her and I asked Dan, another produce employee, if he’d seen her. He said she had just clocked out and left. I nearly bawled. He asked if I was okay and I ended up telling him the whole thing.
He kind of got nervous and said “… Oh.”
I asked “What’s wrong?”
“Well, it’s just… Matt said something… I bet he was talking about you.”
I demanded to know what was said and he wouldn’t tell me at first. Finally he said that right after Matt had walked out of the back from talking to me he walked up to Dan and told him there was a girl he liked but she was kind of young. He then asked Dan what he considered to be too big of an age gap.
I asked if he would tell that to the store manager. He said he’d rather not be involved.
I pretty much wanted to die and began to stress out to the extreme. I called in sick three days in a row because I couldn’t stand to go knowing Matt was there.
I was relating the story to my friends and Kristen - who is now my roomie - also worked at Wal-Mart, but across the store. She got upset and had been telling me for awhile I needed to report him, but this time she basically told me if I didn’t tell our store manager, she was going to herself.
I agreed to do it, mostly because I didn’t want Kristen to tell her for me.
So I went to work and went into the store manager’s office. Her name is Jenny. I had not talked to her more than a few seconds at a time and she didn’t even really know my name, but I just asked if we could talk and she said sure.
I asked if I could shut the door and she said yes and gave me her full attention, realizing it was important. So I sat down and told her the whole story. I know I rambled and probably cried a little bit.
She listened and didn’t say a word till I was finished and said “Okay. I understand. What course of action would you like to take?”
I told her i was not interested in suing. She didn’t even have to change my department. I just wanted it to stop. I didn’t want him to do it anymore.
She said that was very reasonable and scheduled a time for all three of us to get together and meet.
The day came and Matt came in and I told him why he was there. I cited some of the things he had done that made me uncomfortable.
And in a moment that to this day haunts me and makes me feel so helpless and so undercut, he told me I was wrong. He told me that he didn’t do those things. He didn’t directly say i lied but he definitely did say I was exaggerating. He proceeded to then insist that he didn’t see me that way at all and that it was all in my head.
I was beside myself. I didn’t know what to think. It probably WAS all in my head. I’d imagined the whole thing and this man who had a wife and six kids was now in trouble because I was so vain I assumed he wanted in my pants. What was WRONG with me?
I just sort of fell silent and Jenny’s final word was that no matter what did or didn’t happen, his conversations with me should only pertain to work and his compliments should only pertain to my performance at work. I accepted that because at this point I didn’t know what to think.
So he seemed to leave me alone for awhile. In fact, he didn’t speak to me at all. In fact, he seemed mad at me. I was fine with that as long as I didn’t have to face him.
Its worth mentioning at this point that my older brother worked at Wal-Mart at the same time in the electronics department. He hated Matt for what he’d done and he didn’t keep it a secret.
Well, apparently a week after I’d confronted him and it ended in complete and utter failure, Matt began to harass my older brother in a different way. He was constantly watching him and scolding him for the slightest mess up or show of bad performance. He was nitpicking and annoying him every chance he got.
Finally, he pushed my brother too far and my brother, never one to hold his temper, told him something along the lines of “you’re just screwing me around because you’re pissed off because my sister wouldn’t let you fuck her.”
He threatened to fire my brother and my brother said “What? Do you want to take this outside?”
That was considered a bodily threat and he fired my brother. There was nothing anyone could do about it.
So a total shit storm started in my family. My dad was PISSED. I was just upset. My brother was pissed. His girlfriend, now my sister in law, was pissed. Everyone was angry.
This happened very close to Halloween and I was getting ready to go to a costume party when my parents called me into the living room for a talk. They sat me down and told me they wanted me to file a lawsuit against Matt for sexual harassment.
I wanted to know why. They admitted it was because they wanted to get back at Matt for firing Michael.
I remember feeling desperate not to have to deal with the issue that much. I wanted to forget that it had ever happened, I certainly didn’t want to get caught up in a lawsuit. I also felt hurt that when he sexually harassed me it wasn’t worth pursuing legally but when he fired my brother, oh now we had to do something.
So I said no. I told them I didn’t think I had enough proof, that the court would want to know why I waited so long and I had told Jenny I wouldn’t take legal action.
My dad flipped his shit. He told me I didn’t care about my family and that I was being selfish. I still refused. He asked why I cared so much about Matt and asked if I had feelings for him. I thought I was going to throw up. He kept insisting that I must be in love with Matt and that was why I was refusing to sue him. I couldn’t even respond, all I could do was sob. I told him I still wasn’t going to sue.
He told me he was going to sue with or without me and I told him the law didn’t work that way. That I was a legal adult and he couldn’t sue on my behalf. He told me he’d have me declared mentally unfit to handle my own affairs and I told him I was mentally fit and he didn’t have grounds. He told me that I was mentally unfit and he would force me to go to a therapist and they would agree with him within minutes of meeting me.
I turned to my mom for help. Surely, she understood? Surely she knew why I was doing this? Surely she wasn’t going to let him say these awful things to me. I asked her “Are you going to let him speak to me like this?”
She responded “I just think you’re being really selfish in this situation and I’m pretty pissed off at you right now.”
I just sobbed. I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t know what to do. My family was glaring at me. My oldest brother, not the one who’d been fired but the oldest one, kept walking in and putting his two cents in about how I was being stupid and I should help my brother and what was my problem.
And even writing this I’m crying even though it was years ago because why didn’t anyone care about ME? Why didn’t anyone want me to sue Matt because he’d hurt ME? They figured all he did was say some words to me and touch me a little and it wasn’t a big deal but he’d FIRED my brother and THAT was a big deal and I should do something about it.
I felt trapped and alone. I announced I was going to the Halloween party.
“You aren’t taking my car,” my mom said, though she’d told me earlier I could.
“I’ll walk!” I shouted. Instead of walking, though, I got out my phone and called Kat in tears, begging her to pick me up. She agreed readily.
I hid in my room and my dad slammed on my door and shouted that if I left the house that I shouldn’t expect to have a home to come back to. I told him if that’s what he wanted that was fine. He told me he was going to throw away all my stuff while I was gone, so I packed anything important to me in a back pack till Kat got there.
I got in her car and we drove away.
I told my friends what they’d done and said and they all thought it was horrible and hugged on me and told me they understood and thank GOD for them because if they had agreed with my family I don’t know what I would have done. I spent the night at Shannon’s, which is where the party was, and when I came home my stuff was still there but my father wasn’t speaking to me and my mom was mad at me.
My brother and his girlfriend came over the next day and both of them gave me the cold shoulder. His girlfriend’s daughter told me in private that they’d said nasty things about me on the way over.
My mom apologized a few days later but it took my dad six months to ever utter a word of apology to me. My brother and his now wife eventually just let it drop.
However, it remains in my mind one of the worst moments in my entire life.
So I want you guys to take this from this story.
If you feel uncomfortable by what someone is doing, it’s not just in your head. Tell them to stop.
If you are harassed by someone and they deny everything, don’t assume you were in the wrong. Assume they’re lying, asshole cowards. It is NOT your fault.
And if no one understands what you’re going through and treats you like they did me, come talk to me. I promise I will be on your side no matter what is going on.
Thank you for listening.