With this blog post I’m going to share with you all one of the most humiliating moments of my life – it’s probably safe to say the most humiliating one.
I usually get pretty patriotic as soon as I set foot outside my country. What happened to me some weeks ago reminded my of some of the reasons why I left Italy.
It’ll be another of those #MeToo stories, so if you’re bored of that stuff, don’t bother with it.
Okay, ready? Here goes.
It happened to me four weeks ago. I was looking for a job.
I walked in an Italian restaurant. Asked the chef if I could give my CV to the manager.
The chef is a guy in his 30s from Southern Italy. If prejudices are already coming to your mind – it’s okay - ‘cause this one time they’re pretty accurate.
First thing he did was kiss my hand, which I found weird, but well, I didn’t say anything. After looking at my CV he offered me a trial shift the following day. Then he complimented me, saying I had beautiful eyes and stuff like that. I didn’t answer. Yes, it was cheeky, but I thought that maybe, he just wanted to be nice to me.
When I told my mum, she said to be careful. She already knew he was the same old Italian pig. But I didn’t listen to her. The following day I went back to the restaurant.
When I arrived the chef told me that he wanted me to try and work with him in the kitchen, because he wanted to see “how much energy I had”. Basically, I had to peel potatoes and wash dishes. For six hours. So I started working.
After 10 minutes, the guy began to make stupid jokes about sex and women. He was then telling me how beautiful I was and that he was falling for me. At first I tried to go along and play the game. After a while, I had no idea what to say anymore.
Then, he started commenting on my body and my ass (and I was wearing an apron). This is when it got humiliating: you don’t really expect your “boss” to comment on your ass in a workplace. He kept staring at me and saying stuff even when I asked him to stop. He also asked me out – obviously I said no. Then he asked again, and again.
At one point the manager arrived at the restaurant – another Italian guy, but older. I was a bit relieved, I thought the chef would finally shut up and behave a bit more professionally. I was so wrong. As he saw the manager, he called him in the kitchen and told him to check me out. He asked me to turn around a couple of times so that the manager could express his opinion on my ass as well. I didn’t do it, but he insisted for two or three minutes.
After that, things got even worse. I won’t tell you everything, but here are the main things.
After a while the chef got touchy, he started to look for excuses to hug me and touch my back and legs (and whatever he could touch actually). Very annoying. At that point I was insulting him. I tried to stay away from him as much as I could, but kitchens are small. In the meantime, he was still telling me how bad he wanted to bring me out to dinner and have sex with me. Longest six hours of my life. But the shift eventually ended.
At midnight they closed the kitchen and he asked me to go to his room (he lives above the restaurant) because he wanted to talk to me. He gave me £20 pounds. Asked me out again. Then, worst thing of all, he tried to kiss me. Took my hands, hold me still while he was trying to kiss me. I didn’t let him and pulled myself away as I could. But the guy was massive, taller and stronger than me. Also fat. He tried the trick a couple of times, after I had repeatedly told him that I had no intention of kissing him. He let me go when I was about to kick him. Needless to say, I went away as soon as I could. I turned the job down and never went back.
The only good thing about that evening was the pizza they offered me. But what happened made me think about everything that’s wrong with my country. Men have a closed mentality, many of them still think of women as objects they can treat however they like (in Italy a woman is killed by her boyfriend/husband/ex every three days). They think they have some sort of power over us, that they can do whatever they want with us. And that is why this #MeToo is so important. Everyone can be a victim, but I think that sharing these stories can actually bring some change.
It’s not the first time stuff like this happens to me – guys have touched my ass at least three or four times before, but I was always able to defend myself and I always did (I got really good at kicking guys in the balls so beware). I’m also used to men shouting at me or calling me names when I walk past them in the streets in Italy. But this time was different. I felt different.
For the first time in my life I really felt like there was nothing I could do. I was feeling powerless. We were alone in his room. If he had wanted to hurt me, he could have done it.