You are an attractive man in your late twenties. You went to college, but a white collar career didn’t appeal to you. You’ve always gravitated towards blue collar construction jobs. You pride yourself at always being in peak physical condition, and you love working with your hands. Unfortunately, most of the jobs you pick are just that, jobs. You haven’t found a stable career in the field you enjoy. And to top things off, you are newly married with a child on the way. It’s time to find steady employment with health benefits.
Welcome the 90’s, and big box stores are flooding the market, especially in the home improvement sector. The pay is good, with opportunity for growth. And there’s an opening in the lumber department at a local store. The manager seems very impressed by your knowledge and motivation, and offers you a position on the spot.
The first few weeks go well. An experienced worker has been assigned to train you. He shadows you the entire time. Lumber is very heavy, and the daily use of moving equipment can be dangerous. You appreciate the need for proper training. And since you are eager to advance in the company, you pay close attention, and gain his confidence quickly.
Finally, you’re on your own, free to walk the store without a chaperone. Remember, it’s a big store, and you’ve spent most of the time only in the lumber department. You don’t know many other employees or where they work. So while walking back and forth to the dumpster, which is on the other side of the store, you smile and greet everyone wearing an apron, even calling them by name.
It seems to be working. Employees are now calling you by name and sitting with you in the break room. Although the store has about 40 percent female employees, you befriend only males. You are happily married, and you don’t want to give mixed messages. But keep in mind, you’re modestly handsome and well built. You don’t seek attention, yet can’t help but notice when girls are checking you out. Thus, you’re becoming more cautious about returning smiles.
Along comes a typical winter day. It’s cold, windy, and rainy outside. The store is dead, and employees are mulling around or leaning on counters. You keep yourself busy though, making your department spotless. This means multiple trips to the dumpster.
While throwing out the trash, you always pass the paint department. On this day, it is staffed by two women. One is about your age, and the other is in her mid forties. Both have been with the company since the beginning. It’s made obvious by their worn aprons and multiple accomplishment patches. Maybe that is why they feel comfortable just hanging out and commenting to everyone who walks by. And now they see you coming.
You don’t really know them, but they address you anyway. The older one says, “Hey new guy, getting quite the workout lifting all that wood.” You grin a little, give an awkward chuckle, and continue on your way. On the return trip, the younger one blatantly stares at you the whole time, and as you pass, she says to the older one, “Is the gun show in town?” And the older one replies, “It sure is!” And then they giggle like little girls.
The next couple weeks are more of the same. Keep in mind, you are wearing a wedding ring, but it doesn’t seem to deter the catcalls. “Looking good!” “They must sell concrete in lumber.” “Shake that thing!” “Mmm! I need to sit down.” are just some of the harassing comments.
When you tell your guy friends at the store, they think it’s funny, and you should take it as a compliment. But when you tell your wife, she is understandably upset. At first, she gets mad at you, thinking you were overly friendly and encouraged the inappropriate behavior. But when she calms down and realizes your innocence, she says you must confront them or even go to the Human Resource Department and make a complaint.
You are definitely confused and dread the whole situation. For some reason, you feel embarrassed about making a big deal about it. Yet you are genuinely annoyed by the unnecessary behavior, and know it has to stop. You want to be liked by fellow employees, but not that way. And you’re afraid if you complain, the women will be disciplined or fired, and you won’t be liked. You might even be labeled a baby or snitch. Then it could be the guys who tease you about your muscles and butt.
In the meantime, while you contemplate what to do, you decide to take the long way to the dumpster and avoid the paint department entirely. It works for a few days, but your department supervisor is getting mad you’re away from lumber. He thinks you are hiding from work and being a slacker. Now the situation is potentially affecting your livelihood.
You have no choice. The sexual harassment is making you sick, and although you fear the fallout from confrontation, you fear being fired more. You decide to Callemonit. You walk by the paint department when it’s slow, and both women are working. The older one sees you coming and say, “This is my favorite time of the day.” But this time you stop and say, “I do not appreciate feeling like a piece of meat. If I ever hear another inappropriate comment, I will go directly to the district manager and have you both fired. Understand?”
The two women never made it higher than sales associate, and you eventually became store manager, garnering respect from employees and fostering an environment of professional behavior. It’s another Callemonit success. Goodbye stress!
Do you find that harassing sexual comments still exist in the workplace? Do you try to ignore it, or would Callemonit help?