The past year has been a reckoning for powerful, corrupt, shady men to finally pay the piper for years of criminal behavior, sexual assaults, and the mistreatment of those in inferior positions. Most notably, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. Looking back on these events, I’ve also taken stock of my own experiences and I think perhaps I came very close to having my own PG-13 #MeToo moment. I think. However, it definitely wasn’t a MeToo moment, because I flipped the script and used the situation to make sure I got what I needed. Wait, did I MeToo him?
Anyone in the education world knows how slow the state board can be when it comes to certifications, accreditations, testing and all the other tedious pieces of paper teachers have to obtain (at a very pricey fee) in order to keep teaching. I had just moved out of NY state in the early 2000s for graduate school. I was eager to begin teaching in the area. Graduate school is hella expensive and I needed to pay for it! Knowing the process takes a year and a day (if lucky!) I had all my documents certify mailed to the state offices MONTHS before the school year was set to begin. Come August 1, still no certification. A road trip had been planned for the next week since opening day of schools was fast approaching.
That Friday night, I randomly started talking to a man at a cocktail party and could tell he was hardcore flirting with me (one just knows these things after all) and casually mentioned I was a teacher. I began to explain the problems I was having with the state offices. Lucas (not his real name) told me he worked for the Department of Education in a local office and could probably help me out! HALLELUJAH! Appointment made for that Monday, in two days. Now here is where it starts getting a little dicey.
The “subtle” flirting became a full on onslaught of sexual innuendo and lame ass pick-up lines. It was hard not to see how visibly uncomfortable I was. Here I was stuck in a rainbow colored catch 38! I desperately needed this appointment but I wasn’t really attracted to him. He seemed like a decent guy, minus the overt sexual harassment. I quickly made up some excuse, a boyfriend still in NY who I was madly and deeply in monogamous love with. He accepted this half-truth/blatant lie but the flirting continued. I finally excused myself from the conversation and the party and spent the rest of the weekend preparing for my “interview.”
Monday came around, I dragged my hungover self out of bed at 8am, showered, dressed and put on my lucky tie! Lucas ushered me into his office quickly shutting the door behind me, enveloping me in a hug and began caressing my ass with his hands. How considerate of him! I didn’t return the affection, but I did, remind him of my (nonexistent) faraway longtime companion and we got down to official teacher business. Actual business not monkey business!
Thirty somewhat uncomfortable minutes later I exited the office with my fingerprint clearance, drug test appointment and two interviews. I also left with my two certifications — the certifications had already been approved and were probably already en route to me via snail mail. I ended the day with 2 job offers and quickly accepted the one I felt was the best fit for me. It was a middle school ELA position taking over for a woman going on maternity leave. At the end of the year, the job is hers to go back to, however, she was at the school the day of my interview. She pulled me aside and assured me that she had no intentions of coming back next year and that the job would be mine and that I needed to take it. I thanked her profusely, and silently thanked whoever necessary for once again, putting me in the right place at the right time.
I kept in contact with Lucas throughout my teaching career in Florida. I would go to his office, pretty much, anytime I needed something: renewing or adding certifications, registering for workshops and continuing ED classes. I would casually drop by his office, say hi, get felt up a little and see if he was free for coffee or lunch. At some point I would casually mention what I needed. Lucas was no dummy and more than once said “You only come to see me when you need something”. During those years, I created a variety of excuses as to why Lucas and I couldn’t take our “friendship” to the next level. These excuses included me being celibate for a year to better myself. Also my nonexistent faraway boyfriend cheated on me, (even my fake boyfriends are jerks!), dumping me, breaking my heart and leaving me so shattered I was unable to even think about dating.
Writing this post I kept asking myself if I felt guilty about how I handled this situation. I know this might sound callous and cold but truthfully I don’t. Looking at the bigger picture, thank to Lucas, and me being in the right place at the right time I was able to accomplish many things that I am proud of.
I got to work in three excellent schools, under the guidance of amazing principals and administrators. I collaborated and befriended many outstanding teachers who served as mentors and friends, many of whom I am still close with today. I had the chance to inspire, empower, and motivate over 1,000 young adults, trying to instill in them a love of literature. I coached young athletes on swimming and cross country teams. I moderated clubs like FEA (Future Educators of America) and a Diversity Action Club, beaming as my students found the power to be the change they wanted to see in the world. My Insta feed is filled with former students and I love watching their lives and accomplishments and wins.
Was it my finest moment? Hardly! Did it make my life easier and my teaching career smoother? A thousand percent. To be perfectly clear, Lucas in no way shape or form got me any job, but he did provide the open door that I desperately needed. We both knew what the other was doing – we were both getting what we wanted and I think I got the better end of the bargain here. In the end, Lucas was a decent guy who knew he could help someone out that needed a break, and isn’t that what we should all strive to do. So I got felt up a little here and there, a small price to pay for all that I got in return.