I’m quitting my job today. I’m quitting because of an inappropriate text message my manager sent to me on Valentine’s Day. This is not the first time my manager has conducted himself in an inappropriate manner. This is not even the first time I have left a restaurant job because of a manager conducting him or herself inappropriately.
On Valentine's Day, Gothamist posted a report on gender inequity in the service industry. Reading through it was not a comfort to me. It has been my experience that working at a restaurant entails taking a lot of shit. It is highly conducive to, and rife with, sexual harassment. There is close contact, touching, lewd gestures. Much of this is entirely welcome and fun and a way to release stress. Some of this is unwelcome but innocuous enough to put up with. And then there are the moments when a line is crossed, when taking shit is no longer an option.
The day before Valentine’s Day, Roxane Gay posted a great piece in the Rumpus directed toward women who had tweeted their willingness to be beaten by Chris Brown. The day before that, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta made several highly offensive remarks on the air, regarding the increase in sexual assaults on women in the military. Also on Sunday was the arrest of Marston Hefner for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, PlayboyPlaymate of the Year Claire Sinclair. This has not been a good week.
I worked at a Denny’s when I was in high school. One day one of our bussers pressed his palm against the grill and held it there. He told me later that he did this "porque no me quiero," or, because I didn’t want him. I was seventeen. I was reminded of this incident while reading about a 19th-century Taiwanese custom: suitors would present potential partners with severed heads.
Part of me wants a severed head. There is a part of me that wants to seek out male protection in the form of violent retribution and physical intimidation. I understand that in no way should I have to be the one to quit my job because of someone else’s behavior. But I am choosing to leave.
It is perhaps this decision to leave instead of fighting that is prompting me to write this post. I get to be in control of how I personally deal with this situation, and I find it too stupid for me to make a stink about. I’m drawing the line. That’s what I can do. However, there are too many people taking too much shit. Too many people are taking too much shit every day. What I’ve read this week makes me feel as though there might be a whole lot of people who don’t know where the line is. Please be advised.