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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Confessional: My First Job - The One I've Never Talked About

Note:  I've never been a believer of "The names have been changed to protect the innocent".  Fuck the innocent. If they were so innocent, I wouldn't be writing about them.

When I talk to people about my first job, I tell them that I worked at a men's clothing store in the mall.  I sold suits and dress shirts for $5.75 an hour, starting the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school.

The truth is, I had another job earlier that summer.  I went to work for a business that was owned by one of my Jehovah's Witness "brothers".  He made working conditions so unbelievably horrific, I was forced to quit after three days.

I was talking to an old friend a couple of weeks ago, and she brought up Bill Sturgis.  Immediately, my shoulders tensed up and tears started to fill my eyes.

Bill owned a landscaping business that contracted out work from another Witness owned landscaping company. The Presiding Overseer of my congregation owned a business called Pioneer Landscaping.  Get it?  Witness...Pioneer. (A pioneer is one of Jehovah's Witnesses that goes door to door full time.)  He had so much business from local apartment complexes, that Bill kept very busy with a full crew taking care of the work that Pioneer couldn't get to.

As a favor to my dad, Steve (my elder) called up Bill and told him to give me a job.  Just to be clear - Steve was always a great guy to me.  Regardless of his beliefs, I have no ill will toward the man.  To this day, he has no idea of what I experienced.  My parents don't even really know.  That being said...

At the time, I had known Bill for a couple of years.  His wife, Patty, was one of my teachers at a Jehovah's Witness private school that I had attended in seventh and eighth grades. (Yes, I attended a Witness private school.  I'll write about that at another time.)  His stepkids Robert and Jessica had attended school with me.  I didn't get along with them, but I loved Patty.  She was kind.  She was always nice to me.  One of my fondest memories as a teen was when, at a summer party held by Robert and Jessica, Patty made sure I was invited.  I remember that all of the "popular and pretty" kids at school were there, and then there was me.  It was one of the only times I felt like part of the group.

And then there was Bill.  I didn't know it at the time, but Bill was a predator.  A true bully in every sense of the word.  He found your weakness, and pounced on it.

Within the first two hours of my first day on the job, the insults started.  I got the typical "fat boy" or "fat ass".  By lunch, things turned homophobic.  It's strange.  Even when you're unsure about your own sexuality, other people tend to pick up on it.  Bill and Robert started calling me "fag" or "faggot".  Bill never spoke at me unless he was yelling.  I cried myself to sleep that first night.

On the second day, my manhood was questioned.  It started with off hand comments like "He's quiet this morning because he's on the rag", or "Hey Adam, did you bring your Kotex this morning?".

By lunchtime, Bill was throwing tampons at me.

I think my parents knew that something strange was going on.  I would come home at night, and at the dinner table, as my mom questions like, "What does it mean if I'm on the rag", or "What are Kotex?".  The only place I could hear these things were work.  And, I was working with a crew made up of people claiming to be Jehovah's Witnesses.  After asking those questions, my mom and dad would look at each other with what I thought was the strangest face at the time.  I understand the look, now that I'm married.

After the third day, I went to my folks and said that I wanted to quit my job.  When they asked me why I didn't to work anymore, I lied and blamed it on the summer heat.  My dad immediately called Steve to tell him to inform Bill that I wouldn't be in the next morning.  He also told him that we would be at Bill's house the next afternoon to pick up my check.

My mom volunteered to take me to pick up my paycheck, but my dad said that he would take care of it after work.  You have to understand, my father had never volunteered to do a thing in his life.  I think he knew how Bill had treated me.  He saw someone treating his son like shit, and he wanted to make sure that no one treated his wife that way.

That afternoon, we went to Bill's house.  My dad insisted on going inside with me.  He didn't say a word.  He stood there next to me, with his arms crossed, and didn't move until I received my check.  He made a point to stop by the bank and cash it on the way home.  I haven't seen Bill since.

I've spoken about being abused by my dad before, but there is a huge difference between my dad and an individual like Bill Sturgis.  My dad never enjoyed spanking me.  It was his method of discipline.  It was the way he was raised, and the only way he knew how to raise his kids.  Bill, on the other hand, was the kind of person that enjoyed tormenting you.  He looked forward to it.  My dad has issues.  Bill is a bully.

My dad stood up for me that day.  He protected me.  It was one of the few memories I have in which he acted like a father.

After that conversation with my friend (the one that brought all of this up), my PTSD went into high gear.  I have been crying quite a lot, and a surprising amount of smiling.  On one hand, the whole thing has brought up a number of bad memories.  On the other, I have a memory of my father that is slowly changing my opinion of him.  He had a heart.  He had moments of kindness.  He showed love to his children.

I need to remember more of those moments.


Melissa said...

Thank you for sharing that. Some people don't deserve to breathe.


Anonyvox said...

I'm truly shocked that this guy did that. I mean, did he know you well enough to know you wouldn't say anything to other members of the congregation? Or was he so confident in his position that he could deny it and you'd end up being the one who looked bad?

What a shitweasel.

Twitch said...

I think the latter. They weren't necessarily in the greatest standing in the congregation. Still, he played the game well enough at the Kingdom Hall, that I think everyone would find any allegations hard to believe. I guess in the long run, I ended up having the last laugh.

Around the time I graduated high school, Bill and the family packed up and moved to a small town in Arkansas. I have heard from a number of people that have kept in contact with them, that the entire family ended up addicted to meth. Shortly thereafter, Patty supposedly left Bill for the guy that her teenage daughter was dating.

Classy family through and through.