I’m gonna tell my “me too” story, even though it doesn’t even remotely compare to the pain and suffering that so many others have endured. No one touched me. No one got near me, and no one got in trouble, but all these years later, I still think about what could have happened…if I hadn’t been so incredibly lazy.
A few weeks after graduating college, I got an internship with an advertising agency in New Jersey. About a month into the job, I got invited by one of the partners to go to Philadelphia to attend a party hosted by a radio station. The party was at a fancy hotel and he booked us each a room. All of this sounded very glamorous to me until my only friend at the agency, one of the other interns, stopped talking to me. In retrospect, she probably knew more about our boss than I did.
At the party, my boss introduced me to a bunch of people, and then he asked me if I wanted to go smoke a joint with him. I really didn’t want to. He always had a few little crumbs lodged in his mustache and I didn’t want to accidentally come in contact with his leftovers. I politely declined, and he disappeared for several hours. At about midnight, he came up to me and said he was going back up to his room. He said something to his friend about a pair of coconuts that I didn’t quite catch, and I knew he’d had a lot to drink. There was something desperate about him, and he was sweating. I told him I was tired, too, and ready to turn in for the night. His friend got in the elevator with us. I remember thinking that was weird.
When we got to my floor, my boss and the other guy both got out and followed me to my room. As I was opening my door, my boss asked if they could come in.
“I’m kind of tired,” I said, “But thanks for inviting me. Fun party. And it was nice to meet you,” I said to the other guy.
“Are you sure we can’t come in?” his friend asked.
“I’m pretty exhausted. I’ll see you in the morning,” I said, and shut my door.
I got undressed, I put the TV on, and got under the covers.
A few minutes later, there was a knock on my door.
It was my boss.
“Can I come in for just a minute? I’m alone this time,” he said.
“I’m in bed already,” I called out to him.
“That’s okay. I only need to come in for a second. I think I might have dropped half a joint on the floor in your room,” he said.
“You didn’t come in here, remember?” I reminded him.
“I think I gave it to you then. Can I come in and at least take a look around?”
We both knew he hadn’t been in my room, and I knew he hadn’t given me anything, but I was dumb enough to think he was frantically searching everywhere for his joint. Had I been even the tiniest bit less lazy, I might have let him in, but I just didn’t feel like getting up and getting dressed again. That’s what saved me.
“I promise there’s no pot in here, or I would have smoked it,” I assured him.
“Can you just let me in?” he asked, not as nice.
“Sorry, I’m almost asleep,” I said.
“Don’t be stupid. Let me in,” he said, sounding like a completely different person, angry and mean, and almost panic-stricken.
I didn’t answer him. A few minutes later, he lightly knocked again, but I stayed quiet. I knew he was sitting down outside my door by that point. The knocks were getting lower. I felt a little guilty that I was being so rude, but not guilty enough to actually get out of bed.
We were scheduled to leave the next morning. He was my ride home. He didn’t talk to me the whole way, and he dropped me on the side of the highway somewhere near the office. I remember thinking this is kind of a dangerous place to drop someone off and then it occurred to me that he wanted me to feel like something you would find on the side of the road. I didn’t quite register the depths of the insult until much later when I told the story to my father and saw the look of horror on his face.
The next day, I told all the other partners and interns what happened. I told them how he insisted that he left something in my room. How he stood outside my door, quietly knocking, on and off, for what felt like hours, and how he left me on the side of the road. And then I quit.
The truth is I’d been planning to quit anyway. I’d worked there about a month by the time the invitation to the party rolled around, and felt that was more than enough time to work anywhere.
Fortunately, I didn’t need the job. It was an unpaid internship and their biggest client was Buick, which, at the time, was like saying Edsel. But, what would have happened if I needed that job to support my family? What if I needed that guy to like me? Or, what if I’d been polite enough to get off my ass and respect the fact that my drunk boss needed to look for his joint, whether he knew damn well it wasn’t in my room or not? Anything could have happened. I’m just grateful I was too stupid and lazy to answer the door.