My Journey to Self-Respect Dirty Treatment at a Carwash
Almost 20 years have gone by since my first official job.
When I look at how far I have come in following my dreams…now it feels right.
If we were born at our destination we’d never appreciate where we were. I can truly appreciate how far I’ve come on this journey, living a life that aligns with my soul. Following my dreams…
well, the journey hasn’t been without bumps, and I’ve earned every lesson along the way…
Even if everyone thinks you are crazy, following your dreams and listening to your inner voice is one of the best, truest feelings.
The Relaxation Spot
Today I was doing exactly what I am meant to do…
Giving a massage on the beach.
Listening to the ocean
Feeling the breeze on my skin
Helping my client feel better in their body.
I was working right in front of the property we helped our friends find for their two-month visit and the New home of The Relaxation Spot. Yes, we will be moving beachside May 1st, and we are so excited!!!
Thinking about where I am, often causes me to reflect on where I’ve been…
I’m thankful that over the years, I’ve learned the lesson that I too am, and MUST be a priority.
Being a doormat doesn’t mean people are more likely to like you, I am a reformed people pleaser.
Today working my dream job I reflect on my first job 20 years ago, It feels like another lifetime…
Why dig up crap from almost 20 years ago?? Because this crap still happens, and if we don’t talk about it, it will continue to happen. Not talking about it, doesn’t help anyone else learn from my lessons.
Tattletale, whistleblower…Calling out a bully can give you a bad wrap…really that pressure is just more bullying, and it needs to stop.
20-30 women can come forward and accuse a man of misbehavior and we question the crediblity of all the women coming forward.
Women are afraid to speak out about rape, because how will it be received, what will people think of them, will they be blamed for how they were treated?
If everyone who treated someone poorly was held accountable for their actions…would we see change?
I recently read an article where a bar owner stood up for his female employees when they were harassed by customers. This man was very obviously disturbed by how men thought it was perfectly ok to treat women as though we do not have self-respect. I was touched to see someone put their foot down and demand change.
Here is an excerpt from his post.
“Anybody in this line of work gets used to a degree of it and develops a thicker skin. Here’s the thing though, women in this field get infinitely more disgustingly treated. The sheer number of times they get groped, or harassed, or treated like objects would blow your mind. The worst of it is how normal their harassers think their behavior is. Every single lady in here handles it with grace and aplomb, and I applaud them for it. I’ve had their backs as we’ve bounced people out for that trash, but countless times they just deal with it before it even gets to me.
Sometimes the dudes get so worked up that they demand to see a manager, and I get called in to speak with them. Every single fing time they attempt to appeal to me solely because I’m a man. They try to weasel in with me about how the women are asking for it. That women shouldn’t dress that way if they don’t want to be stared at. They attempt to explain it away as just “dudes being dudes.” It’s expected for men to stare at women’s breasts and make jokes about how much they want to fk them. Wink Wink. Of course you’ll understand they think, because you also have a dick. What terrifies and enrages me is how every one of them thinks that this is normal behavior, but also that other men will agree with them.
Men, we often don’t see the level of filth that our friends, sisters, and mothers go through every day. We hope to surround ourselves with people who would never treat a woman like that. We live in a safe little bubble. But the reality of this thing? It’s an insidious disease that’s happening every single day, several times a day and it turns my fing stomach.
So why am I writing this? I want to acknowledge the struggle of every single woman who will read this. You deserve our respect and to be treated with decency. I want to stand up and say, I’m fing sick of this. To every dude out there, we need to fing combat this disease like it’s the god damned plague that it is. If one of your friends says something shitty about a woman, tell him to shut his fucking mouth. Don’t just laugh it off or ignore it. We need to listen when our sisters talk about this, and not just blame it on some bad apples. Not just say “not all dudes do that” or “well no one I know would ever do that.” Nah man. This is an endemic cultural problem. If we want to start taking our status as gentlemen seriously we need to do more than just avoiding being a sexist prick ourselves. We need to open our eyes and fight it everywhere we see it, because the only way this thing gets better is to start calling it out for what it is.” (edited for language. See the whole post here http://m.dailykos.com/story/2016/4/5/1510797/-Brewery-owner-boots-sexist-customer-unleashes-must-read-rant-about-women-in-the-service-industry )
I’d like to take a moment and applaud what really needed to be said. Thank you bar owner dude for boldly speaking your mind and supporting women everywhere!
While reading this article I felt a jolt, remembering my very first job at a gas station/ car wash in my hometown of Souderton. I was the only female working there when I started. At 15 and my first ‘official’ job, I was super proud and excited. Determined to work hard and with a positive attitude, I wasn’t afraid of anything. I had no idea what I was in for….
Dirty Treatment at a Carwash
We lived in a friendly sort of town where everyone knows everyone, and I really enjoyed smiling and offering great customer service to our customers. The job itself I really enjoyed, sending cars through a car wash, drying them off, getting tips, working the register….washing endless towels, freezing in winter waiting to attempt to dry wet cars with frozen fingers and frozen towels…well maybe that last part wasn’t the most fun! These are normal tasks one might expect from working at a car wash.
What I did not expect was the treatment I would endure from the other employees, occasionally a nice guy employee would come through and I would get some intel on what was happening behind the scenes. There is some sort of pack mentality that happens between men. A perceived acceptable mindset…or perhaps they share one brain! Occasionally one guy will not agree, but not quite know how to stand up against the group, so they’ll just try and be nicer to you without anyone knowing. I’m being vague so far but this is just seeing the light of day…. There’s no reason people shouldn’t know this happens and it isn’t ok.
We had several highschool age boys, up to middle age men working at the Star Wash (yes, I said it, no it doesn’t exist anymore). Back in the day, it was called the Mobile Star Wash. It was mostly highschool boys that caused most of the problems, but comments would come from older men as well.
Most things I’d brush off, and have blocked out. Specific comments that come to mind…
“Unbutton your blouse and let your personality hang out”. Usually, comments were stated with laughter as in ‘this should be acceptable because I’m making a joke’. Or a middle-aged man joking about the size of my breasts because ‘more than a mouthful is a waste’. I was 15-16 years-old, who thinks they can talk to a teenage girl like that??
Now that I hear myself recounting this…
I never talked about this treatment to anyone, because they made me feel like this is what it should be like, being the only female.
There were not any physical advances, but still. The comments were just the icing. I took this first job, really seriously, and I continued to work hard.
The guys were dead set on getting me to quit, I had been told by the ‘nice guys’ that occasionally came through, it was because my name was higher than theirs on the schedule and they wanted that spot. It mostly had to do with when you were hired the order of your name on the schedule. So, they did everything they could imagine to convince me to quit.
They were masters at making work life as uncomfortable as possible. They put detergent and cigarette butts in the pockets of my coat (they knew I hated smoking), They put soap in my drinking water, they would lift up my car and move it, they would withhold tips from me (occasionally, nice guys came through and would without the rest of the guys knowing put aside some tips for me since they cut me out.) I would even have customers who would hand me tips and say ‘this is for you, you should not share with them, you work harder than any of those guys’. And yet, I still shared, it only seemed fair to split equally.
The guys would sometimes decide to take off to play football (still clocked in) and leave me to run the whole facility. This meant I had to be at the register when people needed to pay for gas (back then people still used cash and paid inside by credit card), then I would hear a ding that a car was at the car wash, run around back, see what kind of carwash they wanted, hose the car off, send it through, run around front to dry it off when it came out of the carwash, by then I had a line back at the register to pay for gas… If I had one of those step counting apps back then. I would have broken it. It was good for staying in shape, and luckily customers were generally pretty nice to me. They would occasionally tell me to slow down and breathe, they weren’t in a hurry…funny foreshadowing since I now tell my clients to breathe and slow down all the time!
‘The guys’ would even throw in a sideways compliment. ‘We’re leaving, because we know you can handle it. You work harder than us anyway.’ In hindsight it seems like ridiculous behavior and treatment from coworkers, acting like this was ok, it was the norm. Everyone was doing it. Did they treat other women in their lives like this? Or were they mimicking the behavior of others? Why do we ever think it’s ok to bully others?
One of my least favorite tasks was emptying the big garbage cans into the garbage bin in the back. People please! Do not throw away full soda cups and coffee into the trash, it doesn’t disappear, it does go somewhere, it becomes the most funky yuck in the bottom of the can and when a very short girl tries to lift a large garbage can over her head and into a garbage bin that toxic dribble comes running out… on her head and down her body. YYUUUCCCKKKK!
….To clarify that is on MY head and down MY body. YYUUUCCCKKKK! SO GROSS! If you are picturing that old TV Show where people got slimed…It felt like that! (Pic is a slight exaggeration google image search) Dirty treatment. We had vacuums where people could clean their car and who knows what they threw in those trash cans, ugh. I hated that, no to mentioned doing that at night behind a gas station when I’m the only one there, yeah, that sounds safe. Luckily we lived in a utopian town and there wasn’t much concern over endangerment.
I continued to keep my head up and take my job seriously. Honestly, I really enjoyed the work. Secret shoppers gave us good scores if I was on duty, and I was proud. The tasks seem measurable, and I was able to do everything that needed to be done, so I did.
After I had worked there for quite some time another girl was hired, my age…and unfortunately my hopes of uniting like female superheroes weren’t reality. (photo is an example of united females and not related to the carwash)
We didn’t unite into a strong female force to be conquering mistreatment…
She didn’t take crap from anyone.
She was fiery.
The guys actually started being slightly nicer to me around this time. They realized I wasn’t that bad, they told me. Working with another female who ‘brought more drama and put up with less’, and whose work ethic, like theirs involved a lot of sitting and smoking. To me, it felt like I had earned a little tiny respect.
Since, I’d worked there long enough to be comfortable understand all the processes, I did much of the training of new employees. I think this started to help curb some of the treatment with incoming guys. I would take what I could get when it came to respect. Doing my job, that was my focus.
What irked me. I made $6.00 an hour (before tips). If you are a ‘closer’ staying till close you would make $6.50. Since I was female I was not allowed to be a ‘closer’ even though I did everything to help close and prepare for closing, but couldn’t stay that late. Which meant despite working harder than the others (which they did all admit to) I wouldn’t be able to make as much as them. We had one employee that, well, was not known for his wit, used to stack up cartons in the back and nap on his shift. One night he forgot to clock out after his nap and shift would have ended, and because of the hours, it looked like he closed….So he was given a raise…This really pissed me off.
This really pissed me off.
(He’s probably figured out some genius 4 hour work week, how to work in your sleep business by now, and good for him, if so.)
I had watched guys come to work high and drunk, leave, drink on the job, sleep, while I held down the fort and suddenly, that was it. That was the last straw.
Customers had offered me jobs a few times and one in particular, continued to recommend the Towne Answering Service and I accepted the offer.
Now, that I was finally leaving…I thought the guys would be thrilled, after all this time.
The guys had an epiphany…
If I left…They would have to work harder.
Suddenly my last two weeks, they gave me all their shifts, I put in 38 hours each week plus school. I’m not even sure that was allowed, but I did it.
I had already made up my mind to leave, so I left for a job with all women… and it was a totally different level of stress.
My first job I endured being treated like crap, somehow, I thought that would show ‘the guys’ I was strong, but really I was only showing them it was ok to treat me like crap….It’s NOT ok to treat anyone like crap. That is why I am bringing this to the light.
Many of these guys have changed, and are now respectful adults and I am thankful to see that, and it’s beautiful. I really do not hold a grudge, but not telling my story, doesn’t help anyone. I still want women and men to know, that this is NOT ok. And shouldn’t be acceptable. I don’t want my son to have any part of this type of behavior. I want him to know that all people, including himself, deserve to be treated like the precious souls they are. We are all fascinating beings with stories, and vivid lives we’ve lead.
One of my favorite things working at the gas station car wash, was my regular customers telling me the stories about their lives. I would get little glimpses into their worlds and I loved it. I gave great customer service. What did make me sad was after I left to work at a call center/phone answering service, every time a customer at the gas station/carwash asked where I went, ‘the guys’ made up some awful story about me getting fired for lewd behavior.
I know women in male-dominated workplaces have endured way worse, and I’m not saying my experience is worse than anyone else’s. I’m just saying, we should talk about this, so everyone knows it’s not acceptable. To the guy who thinks it’s ok to return to the bar after repeatedly harassing the female employees citing they are asking for it….needs to know it’s not OK.
This behavior is not limited by gender.
Women can be bullies too and you can find it in the most unlikely places, but the energy that goes into bullying can’t feel good, it can’t feel right with your soul, and it doesn’t make others feel good. So let’s call it out when we see it. Let’s uplift one another that we all may achieve more together, rather than squabble to get to the top by stepping on others.
So let’s call out mistreatment when we see it. Insert the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Unless of course you like being treated badly in which case you may want to try some positive mantra meditation. And you may need a hug, and puppies.
We can analyze how I could have reacted to change the situation, and honestly I’m still not sure what would have garnished me the most respect, perhaps speaking up for myself. If we call out this behavior, this treatment, label bullying as completely ridiculous and unacceptable.
Encourage everyone to Love and respect one another, appreciate and celebrate our differences… when we unite respecting and appreciating differences we can be an incredible force with brilliant limitless positive outcomes. It’s a beautiful alternative.
I have no hard feelings. It was part of my journey and I appreciate how kind and loving my friends and neighbors in my lovely Costa Rican town are, even more. Appreciation is a beautiful thing. I’m blessed to have followed my dreams of sharing my touch with the world, and perhaps some trials along the way have helped me push on to follow those dreams.
I am super excited about this next beach front stage of life, it’s actually beyond what I’d ever dreamed. I get to help others follow their dreams and introduce this paradise and massage to people throughout the world. So if you’ve always wanted to visit Costa Rica, we’ve got a Relaxation Spot for you!