As mentioned recently, I have shifted volunteer locations from the Catholic Worker to a senior center a scant 300 yards east. My colleagues at the new place are markedly different. Over at the CW, almost nobody who helps out actually makes a living. Most are dysfunctional and one rung up the ladder from our guests (a lot of the volunteers live rent-free in a bed-bug ridden dorm upstairs).
I am the only volunteer at the senior center. And I don’t mean that in the hood vernacular. Everybody else (mostly women with Masters in Social Work) are paid employees. Right now, they know little about me. And I keep it that way – at least for the moment. One of the women I work with is a good-looking latina MILF. She’s new and took to me immediately – I assume because I knew how to run the joint (from previous days volunteering there many months ago) – and it looked like I could make her job easier.
Because she was being friendly, I got a little flirtatious. Before serving the meal, it is her job to take the food’s temperature and record it on a piece of paper. With no glasses available, she asked me to read the gauge and I responded with “No problem. But no matter how nice you ask, you can’t take my temperature!”
Now in a whorehouse, the girls would have loved that comment and seized the moment to say something along the lines of “Oy yeah! I’ll shove that shit so far up your ass you won’t be able to find it.” But in the setting of the senior center, my quip couldn’t have been less appropriate.
The woman ignored (or didn’t hear) what I said (not sure) and the moment passed. When I got home and considered the clumsy overture, I vowed never to say anything suggestive like that again in this woman’s presence. And further, I understood exactly how and why guys like Roger Ailes got themselves in trouble in the work place. They made crass comments like that on a daily basis until their female employees rebelled.
The next day I showed up and made sure not to say anything suggestive to this woman. The awkward moment had passed and there was apparently no damage done. But I know that a string of ugly suggestions in the presence of a woman who is not a whore would eventually present a problem – to both the woman and me.
Another of the women with whom I serve is a fucking ballbuster. And conversely, I’m already trying to break down her coarse ways. She has a problem with being loud, demanding and rude. Yesterday, I saluted her military style and addressed her as “Bossy.” She was quick to let me know she’s not a boss (could have fooled me).
For her part, the girl I’d made the off-color remark to the previous day smiled and asked “Why you call her Bossy? Because she’s bossy?” and then sort of winked.
Bottom line: I have already self-corrected on the sexual harassment front. And for my effort, I can tell the latina woman is that much more comfortable in my presence. She even began telling me about her mother and grandmother. Will the ballbuster figure out that she’s a little on the demanding side and learn her lesson? Not likely. But that doesn’t matter. I learned my lesson. And that’s what’s important.