In 2007 I was accused of sexual harassment by a woman who worked in my unit, Enforcement, at the Bureau of Automotive Repair.
I was a Staff Services Analyst and she was too. I thought of her as a friendly office acquaintance because she’d occasionally walk by my cubicle and talk. But I was very mistaken. She was my enemy.
On that day she came by and we chatted a bit. Just before she left I made a stupid joke. She had let her hair go gray and had bobbed it. I said, “I like your gray hair, your bob cut for is usually worn by older women.”
Major error. You must never, never comment on the appearance of others, even though in normal social life it might well be considered rude NOT to notice a radical change in a woman’s appearance. And even though I had considered her friendly, if not a friend.
The next thing I knew I was on the carpet in the boss’s office accused of sexual harassment of a fellow employee.
Now, in State service the definition of sexual harassment is as follows: sexual harassment is any comment, gesture, word or action considered to be sexual harassment by the recipient (I’m paraphrasing).
Having taken the required classes I knew this. So I said “I am so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. This will never happen again.” Etc, etc, groveling, abjection, fake shame, fake humiliation.
Boss says “OK” and that was the end of it. Of course I was seething that this fucking bitch would rat me out to the boss and try to ruin my career over a bad joke. But she did.
Note that she came to my cube, probably to show me her new hairdo, when I said the wrong thing. Humor is hard: dieing is easy.
I did the only thing I could do the rest of the time I served at BAR, cut her cold whenever we were in the same space, never making eye contact and pretending she was invisible.
It was valuable training for me, valuable training in the US Army sense of the phrase-anything dirty, dangerous, degrading or unpleasant that you will never forget.
So remember, NEVER make jokes with fellow employees. NEVER make comments about their appearance or actions no matter how lifeless and robotic you may appear.
I suppose my false confession ploy would not work if you actually did sexually harass someone. In that case you’re on your own.
You tried, but you didn’t wreck my livelihood, you bitch.
Image via Mad Magazine
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