what happened at work today.

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i got up to make copies and when i came back some co-workers were clustering around my desk (my desk is right by the main door, so people often stop there to chat, which is sometimes okay and sometimes awful.) one of my co-workers (i work for chil*d protectiv*e s*ervices) (asterisks so it won’t come up on google) was in the middle of some lengthy story about how she was helping a client escape her abusive boyfriend, who’d done some horrible thing or other to her, helping her go to a women’s shelter, and right as they were leaving she turned around to him and said, “i’ll call you later!”
as if this wasn’t bad enough, one of my least favorite co-workers was there, and of course he had to open his big fucking mouth. this guy is an early-30’s white guy who thinks he’s really funny, in an offensive-standup-comedian way (which is my least fave kinda humor). he’s pretty popular around the office, but i think he’s an asshole (i, in case you hadn’t already guessed, am pretty damn unpopular around the office).
his response? i am not kidding, this is a pretty much verbatim quote: “these fucking women always go back to their man that hits ’em. you know what i fuckin’ wish? i wish that all these moms who are in these abusive relationships–i think the best case scenario would be if her boyfriend just fuckin’ killed her. then she’d be dead, no more babies for us to take, he’d be in prison for life, and the kids would get adopted into a nice happy family and just forget all this shit.” I AM NOT KIDDING, THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HE SAID.
and do you know what my co-workers did? the motherfuckers LAUGHED. they thought it was FUNNY.
i sat at my desk poker-faced, stuffing envelopes like nothing was wrong. i thought about a lot of things. i thought, “fuck you, motherfucker, what do you know about being a woman? what do you know about all the millions of things that tell us you ain’t shit if you don’t have a man?” i seriously thought about just screaming, “FUCK ALL OF YOU ASSHOLES, that isn’t fucking funny!” and gathering up my things and running out and leaving them with all my work to do. never coming back, ever.
i didn’t do that. why? because i didn’t want the opinion that women’s lives are worth saving to be forever tied to “that crazy girl that ran the fuck out one day.” because i had just had a very expensive medical procedure done the day before & feared my insurance wouldn’t cover it. because i was so angry i knew once i opened my mouth i’d just be able to say FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK. because i know they don’t give a shit about anything, because compassion has no place in their worlds, and anything i say or do doesn’t matter. because i didn’t trust myself to not break anything and i didn’t want the cops called. because i am afraid, of my own voice, of my own power. and, last but not least, because i didn’t want them to see me cry.
so i sat there, i fucking sat there, as emotionless as a glass of water, i turned my ipod up to drown out his voice (because of course he didn’t stop there.) tried to remember that they’re the crazy ones. tried to remember that compassion is a good thing, even if it is woefully unpopular. mostly i just struggled not to cry. that’s all work is, these days, one lengthy struggle to not fucking cry. i held off until my lunch break, wept under the mulberry tree at the bus stop while listening to bruce springsteen. after work i got the cutest tattoo ever at my friend o’ryan’s house (pictures to follow once it’s healed) and then ate thai food and had a good time and then came home and cried in my lover’s arms. he was sympathetic and i felt better. only a little more than a month to get through, until i save my money, until i quit.

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4 responses »

  1. oh ocean. that is so awful. so fucked-up. so upsetting. i don’t think i could’ve taken it… although i probably would’ve just cried in the bathroom or snuck out of the office and bummed a cigarette or something, i would’ve been too upset to yell fuck you. ugh ugh ugh. you rule. hang in there!

  2. Wow, if that’s what people who work for CPS think about abused women…I don’t know how you deal with that. My head would explode on a daily basis.

    BTW I recently read your first issue of High on Burning Photographs and I loved it so hard, it’s not even funny. Just so you are aware that I am not some random stalker chick.

  3. hey thanks for all the supportive comments everyone!
    caitlin: not everyone thinks that way at my job, just a few vocal assholes. although even those few vocal assholes are way too much. and i’m glad you like my zine!!!

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