By Ashley Henyan
Back in the summer of 2018, after spending two full days doing back to back media interviews as a spokesperson for my employer, I walked into the lobby of our office. I was new to this particular location and had only met the volunteer who manned the front desk on one or two occasions. Still, when I walked in, I stopped and said hello because one thing we pride ourselves on at work is the respectful manner in which we treat our volunteers.
“Well hello, there,” he said. When he spoke, he smiled. And his smile seemed just a bit too big for 8 a.m.
“Good morning,” I replied and removed my sunglasses.
“I saw you. You were all over the TV last night.” His smile grew wider.
“Thanks.” I was already feeling uncomfortable about the way he as looking at me.
“Now I know why they put you on TV. Your’re eye candy!” His smile became a full-fledged Cheshire cat grin.
I was shocked, stunned, hurt. They put me on TV because I was able to memorize 360 pages of content from our organization’s messaging book. They put me on TV because I could keep my cool in front of a camera. They did not put me on TV because of how I looked! I wanted to leap over the desk and kick him right where it counts — for saying what he said, for thinking whatever he thought last night, and for getting ready to think it all again as I walked past his desk and down the corridor toward the elevator.
But I didn’t jump over the desk. Instead, I forced a fake laugh, placed my sunglasses back on my face and opted for the stairs. At least this way he wouldn’t get to see me walk away.
For most of the morning I distracted myself with work. But, by the time lunch rolled around I was down-right mad. And I wasn’t mad at the archaic attitude of the volunteer. I was mad at myself for laughing off his inappropriate comment and not standing up for myself!
There was only one thing I could do.
I got up, marched into my supervisor’s office and filed a formal complaint. Then, I made a promise to myself: the next time something like this happened I would not laugh it off. Instead, I would tell the man his words were an unnecessary and hurtful attempt to undermine my intelligence. And I would probably still consider kicking him in the balls, too!