I wrote this post, a year ago last November, during the onslaught of #MeToo stories being told of women being abused in the work force. I never hit publish. This was not a hard story to write. This is a hard story to share. No I was not sexually abused. However, I totally get why it has taken years and solidarity for women to come out against so many men in power. It can be scary. You don’t want to be judged for the behavior you witnessed, first hand. You don’t want a label pasted on you for someone else’s actions.
Natalie and Grant were my parents best friends. When I was young they moved south, about 3 hours from my home town. A couple of times a year, we headed down for a visit. One summer, Natalie invited me to stay behind for a few weeks to pick raspberries. She was like a second mom and I readily agreed. I really wanted a Schwin 10 speed bike and this was my opportunity to head out to the fields and earn some money.
Have you ever labored bringing in a harvest? It is hard, hot, dirty work. And early, like get up when its dark in the summer early.
Anyway, after about a month, there was an exchange over long distance telephone wires, a great expense in the early ’70’s, and my dad showed up in his El Camino to pick me up. I was surprised. Other than maybe a week here or there for a camping vacation, I never knew my dad to take a day off work. It was midweek, a Wednesday. I think maybe he missed me.
There was this unwritten rule in my family: don’t ask, don’t tell. Never talk about family matters within the family, and FOR SURE never talk outside the front door. Never address bad behavior. And so it was.
That summer, on the way home from Portland, we drove down the freeway off ramp into Fife. There was always a Citizen Band (CB) radio in every car he drove, because, truck driver. Breaker, breaker one nine. (I don’t even know what one nine stands for but it rings in my childhood memory.) He knew at all times where the speed traps were and where the coldest beer was being poured.
We were maybe 20 minutes from the exit to my childhood home. I waited and waited in that parking lot for my dad, windows rolled up. It was July. His words as he got out the car were, ‘Lock the doors, I’ll be right back.’ He left the keys so I could listen to the radio.
Why, decades later, do I tell this story? Even now, years after my father has passed away, I feel like I am tattling. Though my dad did not ask for my silence, I never told anyone he headed into that bar, drank his way through an hour, then drove us rest of the way home. It’s a small thread woven into the fabric of my youth and of course someone has a story bigger that needs to be told. No, it’s not a shocking #metoo, yet I can relate with the women who are coming forward 20 and 30 years after work place abuse and finally sharing a bit of their truth.
Bad behavior, whether it happens at home or work or in a social setting, is bad behavior. It is OK to talk about it.
My dad drank a lot of cold beer. I’m pretty sure all the neighbors knew.