Kindness of Men during Junior High School - Summer 1980
If you read my blog on “Strong Woman Testing by Patriarchal…” was not an introduction to slice and dice all males in existence. I wanted to share the kindness of men in my young high school years.
There were times however, I felt near my senior year that the energy of male teacher’s were attracted to me but just didn’t give into their energy. I would focus on what I was there for...education. I had taken some college prep classes and business classes.
We were a poor struggling family and I didn’t have transportation or willing parents to have me involved in afterschool programs. It would be a long walk home if I did. I was approached by my business education teachers as I was a ‘A' student to sign up for the Office Education Program that didn’t have the quality students they wanted that could wear business wear, test well and interview well for the Cooperative Office Education. They told me to come early before classes started and they told me that we can add you to the roster because no one is able to test, dress and interview like you. I said that I had not signed up for the class and it required that but I had classes. Instead of continuing the solution of schedule changes; they both told me they would handle that. They would add me to the roster, mark me active and mark written projects and homework turned in. I told her that if a student found out; that I and they would be in trouble. They asked me: “Are you hungry and need the money?” I stopped and thought and then said, “Yes.” They continued to ask me: “Then don’t you need this job?” I said, “Yes.” They assured me of no worries.
I tested at 3 locations with the Arizona Highway Department in Tucson Arizona. I excelled and all 3 wanted me. My Dad had just rented a cabinet shop near one location. I told them in the office: “ I have to get a ride to your location with my parents and can I call you back?” I asked my parents and they said to take the one nearest his cabinet shop. He (Dad) had hired a tall blond guy from Colorado that helped him and was my first encounter with a hippie. He would tease me but I didn’t care much for him as I saw he was a fly by night person. It was my summer job that I was happy to be out of the house and helping my parents with bills and some money for myself. Stupidly, I thought my life would be better for them instead of the reverse for me.
I started my junior year in high school at the summer job. I was happy to arrive and it was the maintenance road shoppe for the Tucson Road Vehicles. I met Mr. Moody and boy he was that. He was a tall, lanky man that had the 50’s look and rectangle dark rimmed glasses. He had leather type skin. He had a bit a feminine energy more prominent. He was the Boss's assistant and he was to be my boss. I was asked to type invoices on parts of vehicles I’ve never heard of. I asked him if he could just check the invoices as I am not familiar. He saw that I typed fast and didn’t stay in the office walking in and out. He had been bragging that he would give his workload to me. He then kept leaving. I was worried. Then he returned to review the stack of invoices and told me that I had typos. I replied that “I have never heard of these parts and asked you but you kept going in and out of the office.” He was not happy with me.
On the other hand his boss was out of town and Mr. Koogler was his name and there was another boss. I then was told to go downstairs to the inventory office and work with the clerk of the parts department for all the road vehicles from Tucson to Mexico. There were crews that would come in after hot hours to cool off and get more parts for the next time or get service done. One man hit a woman’s butt. I was shocked and looked at her. She tried to laugh it off and was older than me and said, “He’s just joking.” I asked if she was all right with that. She was making good money but after a few weeks I saw she was miserable. I could see she was laughing but wanted to cry. Mind you the road crew that did our public highways was not our staff and mechanics in this office I worked at.
There was an older man named Smitty. He said whatever he wanted as he was near retirement age. He had the 50’s glasses too, short and stocky and comical. He referred to Mr. Moody as the Mrs. He would fire back at Mr. Moody and had a sense of humor. He was respected as the crew there were all nice and gentle. I was 16 years old and there was another young boy hired for summer to assist. He worked directly with the men.
In time, Smitty would notice I had nothing or little to eat. He noticed how my mother would not drop me off and my father did. He also noticed that my Dad was only 5 minutes drive away and would have me waiting near the highway out of the fence of the mechanic and part’s office and corporate office that was nearest. I was waiting 1-2 hours in the summer heat avoiding catcalls of vehicles driving by standing away from the street. Then the whole crew got to know me.
Smitty would say that I was so beautiful and wanted to adopt me and his wife would love and take care of me. That he wanted to place me on his mantle and just look at me. He got even annoyed and always the first to point out a wrong to make right. He said to me: “What kind of parents do you have to not feed you and pick you up on time?” I was ashamed and he saw me get sad and didn’t want that and tapped my shoulder to assure me saying: “It’s all right kid.”
So then the guys were talking about my predicament. Smitty initiated and knew a man he trusted with 3 daughters that worked there a few blocks away from my house. He then asked if he could drive me home and he was fine with that. He came to me and both told me that they could take you home as he lives nearby and my prospective driver assured me he wasn’t a creep and had daughters. I said, “I will ask my parents.” The answer was no from my Mom. I was to stand out in the sun 1-2 hours before Dad got me. Then they talked to the corporate office by the highway behind the fence and they introduced me to the lady and agreed to have me sit inside the office where the window was in plain view to see my ride drive up. I was grateful and she offered water as I was ashamed and shy.
However, over time. Smitty was so caring and the men. He knew a farm not far away that sold fresh eggs, cheese and milk for cheap as he saw I was so skinny. He said he goes on his lunch hour so quickly and buys for himself and wife. 18 eggs for $2 was a deal. I convinced my Mom to give me cash to get them and she was always reluctant to be with men. She gave in. I went to the boss and asked if it was okay to go on my lunch hour and I didn’t have much work as I finished it. I asked if I was late; would it be okay because Smitty was driving me. He said, “Go ahead!” Then, I asked him to tell my supervisor Mr. Moody that he approved me to leave the office. He said he would and left for lunch and not worry. I went and got the eggs and was so happy. My Mom only did this once and no more. Even if Smitty said give him cash; he would get it for me. He kept getting upset that my parents didn’t take care of me. He would pat me on the back and comfort me and from time to time wanted to adopt me. But Mom would have none of it. She thought if she gave me money that I would ride with Smitty.
I then was working with the downstairs clerk and he was nice. He wanted me to walk around the inventory room and take note of the names of parts and organize some disorganized parts that weren’t heavy for me. He was so nice to me. There was a man from Mexico that headed up the Mexico crew. He saw me and lusted after me. He would try to talk to me and say he was from Mexico and he had 3 wives 13-15 years of age and his wife needed a friend. Pedophile flag came up in my mind. Red alert. Then he asked me if I like Barbie dolls and I said, “I played with them when I was younger.” He said, “My wife plays with Barbies and needs a friend.” I just said, “I have to go as someone is calling me upstairs and you can ask the clerk.” I would leave as he would try to come in and corner me and I would leave aisles and maneuver to the clerk. He tried this by asking me to follow him and get a part with him as he had a question. I would then ask the clerk to assist him. I then told the clerk privately that I didn’t like this man because he wanted to take me to Mexico and be his wives’ friend. He tries to get me alone in a corner. He assured me: “I will handle him, Donna, from now on.”
The men loved me and got attached. They told me: “You come to work not like any other summer clerks would not work and sun tan on the shop roof in shorts and bikini.” Smitty would tease me to wear shorts and a bikini to work. I would say: “No way, this is not summer vacation.” He would smile and be proud of my answers to his teasing. They wanted to ask the Cooperative Office Education Program at my high school to arrange that I would come back next summer. They tried for weeks but the rules were set that a new summer clerk was to be hired seasonally. The two bosses were sad but tried. Mr. Moody was hoping some way I would slip and be fired from the farm run incident but all the bosses and men disputed him.
I was protected by the bosses and crew and staff.
They then wanted to give me a senior gift because I had senior pictures that time and cleaned the entire upstairs office like no one had done during any summer clerical workers like me had ever done. They appreciated me so much. Then it was my final day to leave and they all pitched in to buy me jewelry. Mr. Moody was a jewelry maker but he gave me some malachite and silver earrings. I wore these in gratitude and thanked everyone one there for the gift. They smiled at me and Smitty looked at the earrings and said I looked nice but Mr. Moody jipped us because we pitched in money for a better quality pair of earrings. Smitty told me: “ I will have words with Mr. Moody”. Mr. Moody was jealous of all the attention the men had for me and protectiveness but he said that he bought the quality of earrings from the money they gave him. I didn’t want to have them fighting and said that it was nice and thanked Mr. Moody.
I then had a teary eyed Smitty tell me that he would miss me and don’t you forget me as I won’t forget you and the men as well. I thanked everyone for everything. This is the most I ever felt protected and loved by men who were not related to me at all and didn’t try to take advantage or violate me. I am grateful for this group of men that showed me what real men are like and just wanted to share this with you.