I am slowly gaining back faith in the human race. Where it went, you wonder? I lost every ounce of respect for other people when I worked at my worst job ever. It was a dollar store chain.
It was the first job I could get after my mom after I parted ways with the restaurant was what I thought was the best job. It paid more money per hour than I had ever made in my life. It was my first official manager’s job (aside from the fake-management I had over the restaurant with my mother…that was just an exterior role). And it wasn’t too far away from home, which was great for the old $600 car that I was able to get that had over 200,000 miles on it.
It was the first job I could get with the first car I could get after the big separation. It was definitely not ideal, but it was good enough for me at the time.
Now, these particular dollar stores mostly thrived in…rougher parts of the city. Mine was probably one of the milder ones, but still not the safest place to work. I knew about these kinds of areas but never experienced them much – I had never been exposed to these lifestyles as a kid. But I certainly made it work.
The company definitely gave us the feeling that we were safe. Cameras, call buttons, time-lock safes, drawers with very little cash in them at a time, and even some stores had systems where police stations would call every thirty minutes over an intercom to check if the store was still standing. And to help even further, we were never supposed to leave the store alone at night. That rule was so serious to them that if we did find ourselves alone at night, and couldn’t find someone in the entire district to come and work off-schedule, the store was supposed to close before dark. However, it was also a big no-no to close early without permission. So if that should happen, the district manager himself would have to come in. But he never did that.
I lost count of how many times I had to leave the store alone at night. Luckily I had my pepper spray, and later my titanium key chain from Damsel in Defense, for these situations. Because nothing could stop a man (or even a woman) from one of these neighborhoods from taking anything they want when they want it…even your phone…even your body.
I got the pepper spray for one reason – one person, specifically. This guy, who’s name I thankfully forgot, worked at Labor Ready at the other end of the shopping center and was a regular at the store. I’m pretty sure he was on drugs. I started the job in January 2015 and that was exactly when he noticed me. He asked if I wanted to go out to the movies with him and if I would like his number, but it would be his mother’s number because his phone was off at the moment.
Right up front, I let him know that I was taken. But those words don’t mean much to men these days, especially those who shopped at the dollar store. He kept coming by to talk to me and eventually even began asking other employees when I would arrive. It was getting creepy.
One day, he came by while Dante was visiting me. When he saw me, he said hello but thankfully didn’t stick around. But for some reason, this didn’t deter him from coming the very next day to find me alone near the back of the store.
He held a shoe box in his hands when he greeted me. I didn’t think much about it because it was really none of my business what he had…nor did I care. But in that box was a gift to me: a pair of black high heels. Part two of the gift was for me to go “shopping” for an outfit to go with them and to tell him which one I wanted so he could buy it. I hated high heels. The gesture would have been nice…had it been welcomed and maybe a pair of Chuck Taylor’s. This man hadn’t taken the time to get to know me. He just took a look at me and decided that he wanted me…and I’m against that on all levels.
My response? I just told him that I appreciated him thinking about me but my boyfriend wouldn’t. I told him I couldn’t accept them. After trying everything in the book (I have a boyfriend, I can’t walk in heels, do you have anyone else to give these to?) to no avail, the man ended up leaving them at the store. He just would not take them back.
I immediately told Dante about it. He recommended that I throw them away as soon as possible, which I did, but not before glancing at the price tag that the man conveniently left on the box…$40 supposedly. Rolling my eyes, I chucked the entire box into the garbage can outside of the front door.
That’s when I decided to get the pepper spray. Lots of other men made comments to me daily, but this was the first one who got this bold. He made me feel that any single one of them had the ability to wait for me outside of the store at night…especially dangerous on a night when I would be forced to close by myself.
Thankfully, it never got to the point where I would have to use it. But the black spray was always attached to my hip alongside my work keys (because that was the only time I would ever need it).
I have since left that store. My boyfriend took my place when I went to a busier (and consequently rougher) store for a bit of store manager training. This, I thought, was another step up my waterspout. Turned out, that whole job was a giant set back.
Anyway, when I was gone, the harassment didn’t stop. Men were even asking my boyfriend where I was and telling him how much they missed me being around. In their defense they don’t know he’s my boyfriend, but that doesn’t give them a right to talk about me in that way to others.
This is only the beginning of my journey up this false waterspout. There is much, much more to come.
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