Tuesday, October 5, 2010
IN DEFENSE OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT--GERRI STORY #2
One day as I was reading the Columbus Dispatch, I noticed an article about the police closing down a shop that sold "X-rated movies and sexual novelties". It gave the owner's name and I recognized the name as Gerri's, a woman who had worked for me. The article stated that Gerri was appealing her case. I wrote a check for $100 and sent it with a note which read, "IN DEFENSE OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT!" and I included a copy of the Bill of Rights for her to carry in her purse!
I received a lovely thank you note from Gerri which began, "Dear Liberal in Conservative Clothing:" and she wrote that when she was laid off, she started the shop, because she didn't want to be on unemployment, but that there had been a public outcry which caused the police to shut down her shop. Gerri won her case and re-opened her business.
At work, about a year later, I was walking down the gangway at work and I heard a voice ring out, "There's that defender of the first amendment!" I turned around and there was Gerri and I learned she had been recalled from layoff; she was working in a different department than mine, but had come to find me. I asked her if she still had the shop and she said that business was great and that she had to hire someone to run it while she worked. She told me I should visit her shop. That Saturday I visited her shop and it was a wondrous experience. When she saw me the following Monday, she asked, "I heard you visited the shop but you didn't buy anything--how do you expect me to remain a capitalist?" We laughed and I said, "Well, I did wonder about that thing that looked like a kitchen scrubber--what DO you do with THAT?" She laughed and said, "Come to the shop and I'll give a demonstration!" She told me she oftentimes whipped out her Bill of Rights to show people.
My department was shut down after we had finished building a model and I was assigned to the "armpit of the world"; this department was known as the worst department in the Company, because of all the Union/Company problems. I'd been warned by my own brother that I should turn down the job offer, but I wanted to be able to work enough years for retirement. The day I went into the department, I was waiting in my boss' office and the door opened and there stood Gerri! She said, "Get that worried look off your face, woman!" [We always said "woman" because of my smart-aleck "How big do they grow women where you come from?" remark years before] I was so relieved to see a friendly face. She said, "There's a lot of A-Holes in this department--BOTH management and union--but I'll see you're treated fair!" I saw Gerri walking around at breaks and lunch time talking to everybody in the department. During my time in the department, I received many plaudits and later I became the Department Head, but I know that a great deal of the credit belongs to Gerri because she was always regarded as the "union heroine" and her influence made my being able to be successful in the department a possibility. At my first evaluation in the department, my boss actually said, "I don't know how you've done it!" I merely stated that "One never does it alone!" I retired in 2002; I was so proud when Gerri called me and asked me to be there when she received her 30-year award in 2008!