After graduating college with a BFA and not yet having been identified as the next great thing in the art world, I needed a job. And I wanted a job with flexibility that allowed for blocks of time to continue developing my art. Living in a very large city I searched the classifieds for an opportunity that would provide income along with days off. One ad looked promising, so I rang the number and after a brief conversation was granted an interview at a set time and place.
So far it all sounds good, right? This is where my lack of street smarts come into play. It was very far from right.
The job post was seeking women to fill the role of hostess for a private jet carrier, training would be included with flexible hours and good pay. Maybe still okay. But an early evening interview time at a condominium complex? Time to start asking some questions. But it was in one of the best parts of town I was familiar with, I’d seen the building hundreds of times taking the bus en route to downtown. And it was summer, so it would be daylight. And I needed money. And I was naive.
I’m delaying getting to the hard part of this story.
Because I’m embarrassed and ashamed. A zillion years later. I’ve never told anyone the entire story. It makes me look like a complete stupid ignorant idiot.
I showed up on time, of course, I’m always on time. I ring the intercom with the number I’d been given, am greeted by a voice and buzzed in. I’m getting the vague recollection that I had been told or expected a receptionist to be present but instead I was greeted at the door of a condo unit, a few floors ride up the elevator, by a man who informed me said person had needed to leave early, or some similar excuse. I was a little put off by this but not enough to leave, besides that would be disrespectful. I had been given this time slot and had the responsibility to show up and proceed with my interview.
The person who opened the door was a man, much older than me. I was in my early twenties, he had to be twice my age. He wore a pilot’s hat. That seemed odd to me, corny, like okay, you’re a pilot and you wear your hat off duty? But still I walked in and sat on the seat I was directed towards. He sat opposite me and began telling me what a great opportunity it was, the charter airline flew an elite group of clients to resorts, most often in the caribbean. The company was looking for a few new women to serve their clients drinks and food during the flight, did I have any experience in the service industry? Yes, I had waited tables before. Good. And more chit chat that I have no recall of. But then the shit began.
Oh, and by the way, the man in the pilot’s hat continued, the clients we cater to enjoy the swinging life. Do you have any experience in that? I became incredibly uncomfortable, but my instinct to always please overrides. No, okay, that’s interesting, or some other lame what do I say response. Well, we want to make our clients happy and it is welcomed and expected that our hostesses are willing – and even eager – to swing along with our clients. So we are looking for easy going, attractive and sexual women for the job. Are you sexual?
I should have stood up and walked as fast as I could to the door. But of course I didn’t.
Are you sexual? You are pretty. You know, to see if you will be a good fit for this job it would be helpful for you to put on the outfit you’ll wear while working. Okay?
He leads me to the bathroom, or maybe a bedroom, and hands me a hanger with a few skimpy pieces of fabric hanging from it. I take it.
Fucking A. I’m still going along with his requests. What the fuck. So incredibly stupid. I was unbelievably uncomfortable, but along with my discomfort I was also trying to process how this could still possibly work. I needed a job. I wanted to be able to pursue my passion. Those two things were paramount to me and I was going to figure it out, and right now that meant doing what I was told.
I put on the outfit. It was of course nothing any woman would ever wear in any even remotely respectable role of a job. It was sheer. And… I know, how the hell did I still go along with this utter insanity… crotchless. But still, I opened the door. I even took his critical words and tried to smile upon hearing them, a slight laugh saying I know. I need to work on that. “Your hips are a little too thick, and your stomach isn’t flat.”
“But come here. We need to see if you are sexy, can you be sexual? Show me how sexual you can be. Let me show you what I mean.” And he went down on me. And I endured it. For a few seconds. Or a minute. I don’t know. But it was unbearable. Demeaning. The worst thing ever. Unfortunately I had been taught to endure the worst in silence, but this was wrong and finally I started to process just how wrong: This guy is creepy and gross and making me feeling terrible, I feel so horrible in this moment. I shouldn’t be here. I will never be able to do this job. I need to get out of here.
And so I began to apologize.
“I’m sorry. I don’t think this job is right for me. I’m probably too conservative. (Followed by a little laugh at myself.) I think I need to leave. I’m so sorry.”
And I rushed off to other room a couple steps away, got into my clothes as fast as I could – like in 9 seconds – opened the door and began walking to the condo’s exit as fast as I could, all the while still apologizing.
Arriving back at street level I stepped into the humid night air and began to sob as I walked aimlessly down the sidewalk. What had just happened? Humiliation and despair filled every cell of my being, along with an utter disgust that I had allowed myself to be treated in such a way. Violated. But I don’t know if I was able to process it as violation. At that time I actually still believed that this had been a real job interview for a position that actually existed. Only years later thinking back on it did I come to the obvious realization that it had been a sick con by a demented man as a means to sexually abuse young unexpecting women. Omg, where there others?
Not long afterwards I was having dinner with an old friend, a guy, and I relayed an edited version of the story that didn’t make me look like such a total idiot. Like the interview was in an office building and the job not something so ridiculous. He wanted me to file a complaint or something and that he would help, but I declined, there was no way I was ever going to let anyone know what I had allowed myself to step into. I would be the one people would want to punish, for my pure stupidity.
But not today. Finally, I’m putting the actual story down. Not because I no longer think I was stupid or am over being embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed. And I was incredibly stupid, ignoring all the warning signs acting in the most naive of ways. But what I now know is even with all that, I in no way deserved to experience what I did. It was demeaning, potentially very dangerous, and did a number on my self worth and self confidence for a long time to follow. I also now see that I had the mindset and belief system that allowed me to put myself in such a situation because of the lessons I had been taught during childhood. When you are abused in childhood it sets you up for an incredible struggle in the years to follow.