Mar. 29, 2019

WHEN IN DOUBT---CALL HIS WIFE.

 

From my book: This chapter takes place shortly after the divorce... when I moved from Pine Bluff to Little Rock, Arkansas. Earlier in the chapter, I wrote--- in very descriptive terms--- about being sexually-harassed by my boss, Lee Reaves, at educational television. When I finally objected, I was fired.

In the early seventies, a single working mother like me was often “hit on” by men--especially married men--both at work and in social settings. I learned to expect the “hits” and--- trained since childhood to be a pleaser--- I tried not to hurt feelings or damage professional relationships. Yet every invitation to “screw around” or enjoy an “afternoon delight”...became a direct affront. The very idea that a married man (they were always married) wanted to have sex with me, a new divorcee, was not a compliment but rather-- a “putdown.” The Lee Reaves ordeal clearly demonstrated that I…..like many women in my situation….could be pushed too far.

It was 1975 and I was speaking to Little Rock’s Rotary Club about the role of a single mother in the workplace. Of course, those were the days when women were new-at-the-game of business; women hadn't reach the point where they were treated equally or fairly in the workplace.

My talk was informative based on my observations and personal experience, and I kept my talk informative but lighthearted. I made it a point to encourage every boss and manager….to keep a strictly-professional relationship with all employees, including women.


What I didn't share with my audience was my very-personal-information about sexual abuse.  I certainly didn't share details of recently being fired because I refused to let my boss "maul" me at work. Newly divorced...I'd "hit the ground running" to work fulltime while raising two children. At that time, I didn’t have enough confidence to speak-out strongly about the ugly details of "9-5" sexual harassment or sexual pressure.

When the Rotary meeting adjourned, almost every member walked up to shake hands and say nice things about my talk. I was feeling good about my remarks, feeling rewarded for my efforts--- when a nice-looking, well-dressed and distinguished-looking gentleman, extended his hand and introduced himself as Bill, the CEO of Savers Federal. He leaned in close as he put his business card in my hand and whispered, “You are lovely. I will be waiting for you tomorrow at 2pm with a big surprise. The details are written on the back of my card and I promise--- you won’t be disappointed. ” Somewhat confused, I kept smiling, put his card in my pocket, and proceeded to greet the next person in line.

Later, I pulled the card out to look at it. It was an impressive card, engraved rather than printed. Turning it over, I saw the handwritten words: "CAMELOT INN, ROOM 227. I can hardly wait until tomorrow at 2pm…. Affectionately, Bill."  So Bill kept a room at the Camelot for “entertainment” purposes. Apparently, I was tomorrow’s featured “entertainer.” What an arrogant jackass! He acted like he was doing me a favor.

So, I called an acquaintance that had always lived in Little Rock and asked about Bill. I didn’t go into details but simply mentioned meeting him at Rotary Club. In response, I heard glowing remarks about Bill’s wealth; his popularity as President of the Little Rock Country Club; his highly successful business ventures; and, about his recent high-profile marriage to his second wife---so loved by Little Rock Society. I’d heard enough.

The next morning I waited until 1pm to call Bill’s home. A woman, sounding extremely energized, answered the phone. In respond to my request to speak with Bill’s wife, she gushed: “I’m Bill’s wife!” I didn’t give my name; I simply said “Your husband invited me to join him at two o’clock this afternoon at the Camelot Inn---room 227---for sex. I didn’t decline his invitation so he will be expecting me. From one woman to another, I think it would be more appropriate for you to knock on the door of room 227….at 2pm….and surprise him, don’t you?

Her voice, suddenly flat, like someone had let the air out of her tires, quietly asked: “Is this a joke?” I responded: “My dear, as the former wife of a cheating husband, I don’t consider infidelity a joking matter.” She uttered a weak “thank you” before hanging up. I learned later, the new wife had been Bill’s girlfriend during his first marriage.

I’d bet money the new wife visited the Camelot Inn, room 227, at 2pm.

Sally Miller