December 20, 2014

"I'm a Very Stupid Girl."

Years ago, I landed a job at a law office transcribing audiotapes. (Yes. Dinosaurs were roaming the streets. And the sun had not yet been invented.) I was able to hold that job for one whole week. (Insert applause here.) The job paid $10 an hour when that was good pay. I was in my late teens, living in L.A. and feeling like all that and a bag of chips.

But there was a glitch. The law office was in Century City.

I wrote about this years ago—six years ago—but the memory (old even then) is still new to me:

The crazy part was parking, which the lawyer paid for—otherwise the employees would have made no money. Century City seems to have been built without a concept for where people will keep their cars. Every day, there were different rules: park in the mall across the street, park at the movie theater, park by the doctor’s office, park in the hotel lot. When the lawyer asked me to come in on a Saturday as a favor to him, I parked where I had the day before.

At the end of the day, I gave him the stub for validation and he started to scream at me. Weekends had a whole different set of rules. But nobody had told me. “I’ll pay the parking for you this time,” he sneered, “if you tell me that you’re a stupid girl.”

I stared at him.

“Just say, ‘I’m a stupid girl,’ and I’ll give you your check for the parking lot.”

I was wearing a short denim skirt and a silvery t-shirt. My hair was up in a ponytail and I had on white go-go boots. I can see myself standing there, thinking that I needed the money, but realizing that I couldn’t say the words.

He wasn’t a Dom. This wasn’t a scene. I was going to have to return to Byron in the evening, who would not sleep with me because I’d bought the wrong type of toothpaste. I was going to wait until Byron went to bed, then stay up drinking beer out on our balcony and fantasizing about an out-of-shape producer who’d threatened to spank me because I’d let the coffee get cold. My life was chaotic, and I never ever felt as if I were on solid ground.

But I couldn’t say I was a stupid girl.

So I quit. I made the man print out a check for my hours and another one for the parking garage. I can hear the dot-matrix printer chugging away on the checks, see myself standing there, pink-cheeked, heart pounding, but unwilling to give in.

I left with a swirl of my ponytail and a click of my heels.

The point of this post is that I walked. And since then, I have walked out of multiple jobs. I don't know why this gives me such a rush of fucking pride. I probably ought to feel bad about my ... my what? My ability to take shit, I guess. But I will say this—companies often take advantage of writers. Many companies are surprised when you won't let yourself be fucked.

Why is this fresh in my head? Because this fall I was requested to do something as "a personal favor" for a company—when they wanted something major from me. But when I asked for something minor in return, their rude "no" was "just business."

Guess what these boots are made for?



Jo said...

Seems like you're not such a stupid girl at all.

Cora Zane said...

"Say you're a stupid girl and..." I'd have to pick my jaw up off the floor first. That's some nerve. He definitely couldn't get away with that now. LOL

Anyway, this was my first thought when you mentioned "stupid girl"...

That first one then reminded me of this one...


Giselle Renarde said...

OMG I had that same job!

Alison Tyler said...


Giselle Renarde said...

Would I lie to you? My mom did it from home and she paid me a nickel per page or something ridiculous like that. I was a sub-contractor at the tender age of 12 (and what law firm wouldn't want a 12-year-old typing for them?).

Okay, I might have been 14. I don't know.