Random Brain Dumping

Musings and observations about life

I believe the Alabama women

The ad said, “Wanted: Help at record store. No experience required.”

As a teenager, I couldn’t imagine a better job than working at a record store. My family had a record player, rarely used except for an occasional Mahalia Jackson, Ray Charles, Moms Mabley or Pearl Bailey record. (Moms Mabley only when my folks thought we were asleep.)

At that point in my life, I owned no records, and would love to have worked at a store where I could buy my first one. Probably something by the Commodores or Manhattans or Aretha or Diana or Earth, Wind and Fire.

The ad said to apply in person and gave an address downtown. I caught the bus after school and headed to the store.

Record after record, album after album greeted me. This certainly would be the place for me.

A girl or a woman (not sure) asked if she could help me, and I told her I wanted to apply for the job advertised in the newspaper.

She directed me to the owner, a light brown man with a chunky build, curly hair and a shiny face. He ushered me to a raised open area at the back of the record store, surrounded by record shelving, and had me sit next to his paper-filled desk, facing him.

His words after that, I don’t recall. I’m sure he asked such things as why I wanted to work at the store and about my experience. That part’s a blur.

What I do recall is that he leaned toward me at one point, placed his hand on my upper arm and with his thumb, rubbed the side of my breast.child sexual abuse word cloud

I stiffened and inwardly screamed. I can’t remember if I pulled away instantly, but I do remember that I ultimately left the record store, my hopes of owning my first album dashed and my self-esteem shattered.

I didn’t tell my parents or any other adult. I don’t think I slept that night, either. I felt ashamed and defeated.

Why me? Had he touched the other girls in the store the same way? Surely not. Had I worn something that had given the man the idea that he could touch me? Did he misinterpret a smile as being flirtatious? Had I said something during the interview that he interpreted as an opening for this touch?

The next day at school, however, I told some classmates. One of them had applied for the same job and had had the same experience with the same chunky, curly haired, shiny-faced slime ball.

She said she hadn’t told her parents, either. She hadn’t gone back to the store, either.

That was that. End of discussion. Neither of us reported the man to police, and only the record store owner knows how many other girls he touched inappropriately.

Why talk about this now?

Frankly, I had buried the memory so deeply in my mind until recently. Until a former judge in Alabama who’s running for the Senate was accused of inappropriately touching teenage girls decades ago. Many have wondered why those women are speaking up now, and some have accused the women of lying.

It’s hard enough being a teenager subjected to normal teenage things: pimples, puberty, peer pressure. It’s quite another to have an adult impose on an already vulnerable child. Self-esteem can be severely damaged by such an imposition.

I believe them, the Alabama women. A man with power approached them and may have behaved inappropriately with them.

I believe them because a man with power, albeit not a judge or lawyer, behaved inappropriately toward me and at least one other girl, and we didn’t tell anyone who could have done anything about it.

Besides, who would believe a teenage girl over a powerful man?

#metoo

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December 9, 2017 - Posted by | Random Brain Dumping |

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