Me, Too. But I’ve touched on my own experiences a little bit already in my Locker Room Talk post. Today, I want to tell you a different story.
He’s the kind of guy that people tend to open up to. So she told him about what that creepy guy that works under him did to her that one time. It wasn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to her. But it was completely inapporopriate. They we’re just chatting about work stuff so the story came out of her mouth before she even realized what she had actually just disclosed to him.
As soon as the words left her lips, he could feel the dread wash over him. He liked the worker she was talking about. He was a loyal employee. Hard working. But hearing her tallk, he’s not totally surprised either.
And now he was going to have to get him fired.
He told her he was going to have to report her story to HR. She immediately started back-tracking.
You see, just like most women – she could already see all the ways that this could go. Maybe people will believe her. Maybe they won’t. Her own character will be scrutinized as people try to determine if she is telling the truth.
If they do believe her, they will question whether she is just being “too sensitive” or “making a big deal” out of something that “isn’t really a big deal.” She knows he is an otherwise good employee, and people will say, “That’s just how he is. He’s always been that way” They will blame HER for the company having to let him go. IF they let him go.
And whether he is reprimanded but stays or if he is fired….it won’t be over even after it is.
Because, sure – HR can’t disclose everything – but people talk. Everyone will have an opinion about it. About what happened to HER. They may suspect her, or suspect someone else, or blame the management for letting a “good employee” go for “no reason” because they don’t know the whole story. There will be rumors. There will be snarky comments and sideways glances.
And she will be left wondering if they were right….”Am I too sensitive? Did I make a big deal out nothing? Should I have just kept my mouth shut? Was it worth it? It’s not like this is the first time I’ve been treated like that by a guy.”
She wasn’t born yesterday. She’s seen this show before.
So now, she tries to stop him from turning this over to HR and handling it formally. He explains that he can’t do that. He doesn’t want this to keep happening to her.
“It’s fine,” she says. “I already try to avoid going near him as much as possible anyway. It’s not like we work in the same area so I don’t have to deal with it that often.”
“Just forget I said anything, ” she begs.
“But what if he is doing this to other women too?” He asks. ” What if he’s done worse? And what if we don’t say anything and he just continues to do this to other women?”
They both know what he has to do.
If he was being honest, he would admit that he feels a little torn. He believes her. The guy is known for a being a little “creepy.” But he also knows how frustrating an HR investigation can be. He doesn’t want to make it worse for her by dragging her through it if she doesn’t want to.
But he can’t UN-hear what she said. And what if this guy really IS doing it to other women at work? What if he’s doing WORSE things to other women? He has an obligation to report this.
And even if he tried to “honor” her request to forget about it but she changed her mind later or he does it again and she ends up reporting it anyway? It would likely come out that she had mentioned it to him before and he didn’t report it.
And whether it was this same woman or someone else – if this guy did it again at all – could he ever forgive himself for not reporting it now?
Sigh. It feels like a lose, lose, lose situation. But he knows what the right thing to do is.
So the next day he does it.
Turns out this is not first complaint about this guy. When HR launches a full investigation, they find more. Turns out there are many women who have been harassed by this guy. Some more extreme than others.
The process isn’t fun. It lingers on and seems to take too long as these types of formal processes always do.
In the end, the man is fired. People directly affected by his absence at work are frustrated. There are questions. There are rumors. There are comments and sideways glances.
But not as many as the guy who initially reported it expected.
If you ask him, he thinks people knew all along so they weren’t entirely surprised. They brushed it off, let it go, turned the other way….. becuase that guy was just known for being “that way.”
He is disgusted by this realization.
Something deep inside him is changed by this experience. He starts noticing as he looks around the world. He recognizes the truth in all the stories women are telling in the news. He believes them.
The woman moved on from that company. Not because of this. But it’s definitely a part of it she’ll never forget.
It was a year later when he received the message.
“I know I was mad about it at the time,” it read, “But I don’t know if I ever really Thanked You. Thank You.”
His heart swelled up.
So does mine when I hear the story.
If you ask him, he’ll tell you he doesn’t feel like he did anything great. He was just doing his job. What he did was just the right thing to do. “How could I have done anything different? I mean, I know people do and I know it’s because of the way things have been done in the past, But how are people STILL not doing the right thing? How does anyone think it’s ok to just keep letting this happen?”
And that is why he is one of the good guys.
Shout out to him. Shout out to the other good guys out there.
Women have been coping with this for a long time.
Women have been battling for a long time.
And We’ve gotten pretty damn good at it.
But we want you to be in this with us. We appreciate you doing the right thing for the right reasons. We are all stronger when we look out for each other and when we fight together.
~BeGentle.BeBeautiful. Embrace the Mess. ~