Monday, October 4, 2010
I was expecting a new employee to come to my department and a young woman named Gerri arrived and handed me her transfer paperwork; she was very striking in appearance with a good figure. I completed her orientation and took her to her work station. Before break, a supervisor from another department came into my department and asked, "Do you know about that new girl you got in tonight?" My standard answer when someone called a woman a girl was, "How big do they grow women from where you come?" I could see him wince but he laughed and said, "Your size."
Although I knew the man, he and I had never had any occasion to have small talk and yet, there he was, strangely, being very friendly. He snickered and said, "Well, they just brought her back--she was the one who exposed herself at the Assembly Plant." I was immediately suspicious of his motive and I responded, "What did they charge her with--DECENT EXPOSURE?" I was angry, skeptical about his motive, and I walked away; he left the area. I noticed that the crew had been watching us.
Gerri turned out to be a fabulous employee; she never missed a day of work, always achieved 100% productivity with excellent quality. One evening she told me about her daughter who had been born with a cleft palate and she'd endured many operations and she needed speech therapy to be able to be understood at school. The insurance would not cover the speech therapy. The next day I went to the insurance department and talked to Steve, the Supervisor in Insurance and he told me he would work on it. Several days later he came to the department and asked to speak to Gerri. Afterward, Gerri called me over and said, "Thank you, Sue, I've tried to get three other bosses to help me and you did it!"
Because there hadn't been women working in the plant, a small restroom and locker room was carved out for the women and I shared the room with the workers. One evening at dinner time I was in the locker room taking my vitamins. Gerri walked in and saw my vitamin bottles and she said, "My guy takes those and he's pretty old but he can really keep going!" I asked how old he was and she said, "He's 38." I started laughing and I told her I was "dissolving into a puddle of old-hagism!" She said, "Well, how old are you?" I said, "THIRTY-EIGHT!" She said, "Well you don't look it!" She came over and put her arms around me and said, "I just want to thank you for the way you've treated me." I asked her what she meant and she said, "You treat me just like everybody else and I was so scared when I came in the department, because you were a woman and the way you look and act, but everybody told me you'd be fair." I asked, "HOW do I look and act?" She said, "Well, you know--conservative!" I said, "I'm a Liberal in Conservative clothing!" She said, "You've done so much for me like helping with my daughter when nobody else would!" I said, "But that's my job!" She said, "And you never judged me and I know you knew about it from the first night I came, because I saw Mike come up and talk to you." I told her how it had angered me and what I'd said about "decent exposure" and she said, "Oh, Suzy, that's so funny!"
I told her, "Well, I have always been curious about what happened, but it would have been totally inappropriate for me to ask you!" She then told me the story: she was working at the Assembly Plant and she wasn't wearing a bra. A guy on the mezzanine whom she knew yelled out her name and he pulled his pants down and mooned her. She lifted up her blouse and flashed him! A member of management saw the incident but could not identify the man on the mezzanine. Gerri was told she was going to be terminated, but if she identified the man, she would just be suspended. Gerri refused to identify the man and she was fired. She became a Union HEROINE for not snitching. Her case went to arbitration and it was agreed that she could return to work but she had to change plants and she had to wear a bra! She asked, "You wanna know why that guy came and talked to you?" I nodded and she said, "He tried to get me to go out with him, but I don't date no married men!" AHA! There was his motive. He thought he could cause her to have a difficult time with me because I was considered to be "conservative".