When I was a 16-year-old high school student, I worked part-time at Sears (Newark, NJ). Since I could type Louise Gleason hired me to work with her in the personnel office. After graduation and on to Rutgers, I kept my little job. On Saturdays I finished clerical work for the store manager’s secretary. The upstairs offices were empty, few people were around. The telephone operator and I might be the only employees on the 3rd floor. Merchandise managers and the store manager rarely showed up. Saturdays were quiet.
Harry P., the manager of store 1044, was a good-looking guy in his 40’s, married with kids. On two separate Saturdays he interrupted my work by inviting me into his office. Each time he began with small talk, then wanted to know what my boyfriend and I did on our dates. (I was dating a Sears management trainee.) I figured Harry out for a voyeur and decided not to feed his perversion. The next Saturday he evened the score. I had stacks of paper and five file cabinets in front of me – sort and file, that was my job for the next few hours. Harry, the snake, approached silently from behind and clamped his hands on to my breasts. I swung away and screamed. His response: “I just wanted to see if they were real.” I don’t need to explain what “they” were. That Saturday Harry P. showed himself to be a predator. I needed my job and I loved working at Sears. That’s my store. The secret had been mine alone until #MeToo became an option.
Mr. Griffith, the previous manager, had a carved wooden sign above his office door. The sign read: A Peacock Today, A Feather Duster Tomorrow.
As women continue to react to sexual injustice, more men will become feather dusters – a euphemism for all washed up.
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