miscellany

on trauma of all flavors

I was physically assaulted at work early Sunday morning by a client so coked up he was hallucinating sparkles of dust in his eyeballs. I saw him do five bumps within a 45-minute period (when he thought I didn’t notice), and I’m sure he did more when I was out of the room warning the manager he was becoming out of control (“go figure out how to handle your own session” “we need him here as late as possible for the money”) or taking a short break so the other woman I was doubling up with could take control of the situation.

He’d come in at 3:20am (we close at 3am but the manager on shift always stays open if a cokehead—known to have credit cards with high limits and a complete inability to keep track of the amount of time and money they spend once they enter our doors—is on his way), and by 5:45am he was so unruly and insubordinate he wasn’t only not following directions and being a brat, he had the impression he was the one giving orders and our not following along meant we weren’t having “fun” or something. I went to reach next to him (he was sitting down, and all of our equipment was to the left of him) to get an implement, and he lunged at me, twisting my right arm and grabbing my left shoulder.

I immediately jumped back. Rule No. 1 in any situation in the business in which we work is that you never, ever break that fourth wall. And you especially never break it with an act of violence. We had been warning the manager that the client was growing unpredictable, but we never imagined that he’d become violent toward one of us.

My coworker and I went to a corner of the room out of earshot of the client and decided to end the session. She told me to leave the room and tell the manager what had happened, and she’d be close behind.

So I did. I went out and told the manager I had been physically assaulted and that I was ending the session. She told me I had 15 minutes left and to go back in. I repeated myself, this time more loudly. Then my coworker came out and confirmed the situation. We both then went to sit in the girls’ room. The manager called us out to pay us—not only was I shorted $10 because “there was no change,” I was shorted a half-hour, presumably because I left my session early. I didn’t realize this until later, when I looked at the times.

I was talking to my coworker in the girls’ room about what had happened, and we heard the client leave…then come back. The manager had allowed him to go out and then come back with more money.

Meanwhile, my elbow had really started to hurt. I knew something was off. I told my coworker I was going to go to the ER. I’m very in tune with the aches & pains of my body, and I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, so when I say I’m in a terrible amount of pain, that’s significant. I asked my coworker to tell the manager I was going to the hospital when she was done talking to the client (she’d been doing so for a while as I was getting ready to leave).

I’ll shorten up the rest of the story.

  • I went to the ER. I have a possible torn ligament in my elbow & I’m seeing an orthopedic surgeon in the morning.
  • I sent two emails to the owner yesterday. He didn’t respond to them until late today. He talked to the manager and my coworker and refused to talk to me today because “that’s how [he] runs [his] business.”
  • One of the emails detailed how the manager from that night accused me of (a) already being injured before I came in and (b) never telling her I was hurt and (c) making the whole thing up; and another manager said “some people just can’t handle certain sessions” and told me I can’t work on her shifts—the only ones I’m able to work this week—because I’m injured, despite medical clearance.
  • I’ve been in contact with an advocacy group in the area that’s working overnight to get me either an attorney to go with me when I meet with him tomorrow or a support person.
  • The manager in question has a long history of putting women into dangerous situations without any regard for their safety. The “solution” in the past is to tell them not to work this manager’s shift anymore.

Tonight, the full extent of what happened is all sinking in. I’ve got body aches, a headache, feelings of nausea and wanting to sleep but maybe it’s more like malaise. I spent 20 minutes looking for a pair of boots and, when I couldn’t find them easily, I convinced myself the landlord, since he wants me out anyhow, had used his keys to get in and take them. Then I found them… on a shelf where I put all my boots (so I could remember where they were while I’m moving…).

I have housing court Thursday. I’m supposed to teach on Wednesday. Early Friday morning I’m flying to Chicago because my dad is in town and it’s my grandma’s birthday and how many kids get to know their great-grandmothers or get to realize the inter-generational similarities between their mothers and great-grandmothers, all the more uncanny considering my grandmother and I were forcibly kept apart by my mother (and she was vilified by the same) for my entire life. I saw her maybe 20 (30, if you’re pushing it) times that I can remember from the time I was born until I was 35 years old. And yet we have so much in common in our personalities.

I understand now why my mother, when angry at me, would spit out the words, you’re so much like your grandmother. She clearly meant it as an insult: my mother didn’t like my father’s family and sought to distance us from them as soon as possible, then took to bad-mouthing them as often as she could. It had something to do with disparate treatment toward his brothers, giving things to his siblings that they didn’t give to him or something like that. Which, now, I find so petty and small. And ironic, given that she turned out to treat her children the exact same way. But I digress.

I bought the plane tickets because they were only $20 more than the bus tickets and required much less travel and, therefore, more time with my family. But I also bought them when things were on a roll at work, expecting the roll to continue.

Now I find the roll halted completely, told I can’t work, meeting with the owner (lawyer or support person in tow). I could be fired tomorrow (oh, he has no clue what that would set off…). I suspect what’s already begun is a rewriting of history and I’ll be expected to play along. Except I’m the one with bodily evidence. I am the one injured. I am the one who is paying the price (both figuratively and literally). He is the owner. They are the observer and the person who sent me to slaughter. Their words are no more valid than mine. They may at this point be less true, though, poisoned by the well of pecuniary desire. What they don’t realize is something I learned long ago (even if I first heard it on a Stars album): when you’ve got nothing left to lose, you set yourself on fire. And I’m not afraid to bring them all down with me.

Because I’m already broke & eating once a day. I’m already getting evicted and will soon be homeless. My credit is already ruined. I can’t afford any of the things you all take for granted: Brand-name toothpaste or deodorant or shampoo. Anything to drink other than tap water. New shoes. A swipe on the subway.

Anyhow. IF you know of any work please let me know, as I need income. I’m resourceful but have yet to learn to survive on air. It CANNOT be physical (cleaning, etc). I love temp agencies but somehow they don’t ever call me back, so if you have an in, HMU!

***

Back to the Facebook screenshot. I think it was 1982, the year we lived in the farmhouse outside of Robstown. Those who have read my No Direction Home story know the house I’m talking about. Or they’ve heard of its existence. Who really knows if it will ever be found again? It’s nice to have an innocent year (and place) to look back on, though.

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