Monday, March 24, 2008

Bad Dream

At my age I really need to stop snacking on peanut M & Ms immediately before I go to sleep.

Lately I've been mostly successful at stemming the craving, but last night I fell down hard in that aisle at Walgreen's where the Easter candy is on sale. At bedtime it was nibble, nibble in between browsing Heirloom Knitting for a new Big Lace Project.

So I had a nightmare. It's one I have quite a bit, about once a month.

I was back at my first (and worst) job ever, stocking shelves at a forlorn supermarket in a depressing corner of upstate New York. I was paid minimum wage, minus the usual taxes plus weekly union dues that were equal to about 50% of my take-home pay.

The official job responsibilities were what you'd expect. I lugged boxes to and fro. I wrangled shopping carts that were determined to escape from the parking lot. I cleaned up spills, wielded a price gun with little skill and less enthusiasm, and suffered the insults of a supervisor five years my senior who had been rejected by Harvard (which he knew I was getting ready to attend) and was not happy with his lot in life.

He liked to give me the heaviest lifting to do, particularly as I was the youngest and smallest of the stock boys. Sisyphean tasks were his forte:
Move these thirty ten-pound boxes from this side of the stock room to that side. No, you can't use a cart. Carry them. Shoot, you just finished moving the whole stack? I just realized they shouldn't have been moved. Put them all back where they were. And do it faster this time. I'll be watching the clock.
Annoying, but honestly no worse than stocking shelves. And it was good for my biceps.

The night supervisor, however, was a genuine sadist. He was a guy from my high school who'd been on two dates with one of my best friends, an enormously pretty girl named Candace. She'd apparently spent most of those two dates talking about what a sweetheart I was. Then she told him to get lost. He was therefore not inclined to look upon me kindly.

After his unfortunate affaire de coeur with the lovely Candace, alarming things began to happen on the shop floor. I'd be pushing a cart through the stock room and suddenly a full, heavy box of canned food would land with an explosive CRASH on the floor next to me. I'd look up, and he'd wave from the catwalk. "Oops!" he'd shout, grinning impishly. "Must've lost my grip!"

Six-foot stacks of boxes would topple as I passed. Full pallets would zoom down the aisle and knock me flat. I'd climb a ladder to reach a high shelf and find myself heading for the floor. "Wow," he'd say, smiling down at me, "You gotta be more careful about where you set up, slick."

I learned very early in childhood that it was no good appealing to authority about stuff like this. Rumors aside, I don't know what it's like to grow up as a little girl. But when you're a little boy, you discover fast that asking for help with bullies does no good. You get one of two stock responses:
  1. You better learn to fight back.
  2. If you're gonna act like a sissy, you deserve what you get.
Neither solves the problem, but such is the world's disgust with a male child who doesn't tend to brutality.

So I said nothing, and kept my eyes open for runaway cans.

And then–and here is the scene that replays in my dreams–there was a late shift when the box crusher jammed. The box crusher was a big, green cage into which empty cardboard boxes were heaped. When the cage was full, the contents were pressed into a compact bale by the machinery, then tied with wires and ejected for disposal.

There was a huge sign on the side of this thing indicating that nobody under 18 was even supposed to touch it. I was 16, but when I asked questions about the sign the day supervisor told me to shut up and do what I was told. I became fairly proficient with loading, crushing, and bailing. It wasn't especially scary or difficult. If I pretended my boss was inside, it was fun.

But the night it jammed, the late shift supervisor ordered me to crawl inside and fix it. I was, he pointed out, the only guy in the building small enough to fit through the opening. And once I'd cleared the jam, I'd have almost ten seconds for him to pull me out before I'd wind up as Flat Stanley.

I told him to forget it. He persisted. He called over the other members of the night crew, none of whom were terribly fond of me, and they insisted I was being a faggot and a sissy.

"Get the fuck in there," said the supervisor, "or I'll fire your faggot ass on the spot."

I'm sitting here typing this, so I don't need to tell you I ultimately did not wind up in the crusher. But it took everything I had to stand my ground and say no. He told me I was fired, and I waited out the remaining hours of my shift in the parking lot. The next day, I swallowed my pride and appealed to the store manager, who was appalled by the whole thing and reprimanded the night supervisor, though he didn't actually fire him.

Of course, that just increased the rate of falling boxes, but I managed to survive the rest of the summer with only minor bruises and a whopping $250 in my bank account.

The nightmare is very weird in that I always get stuck in a sort of loop where my moment of indecision plays and replays. I stand there in my ugly apron as ten guys call me a stupid sissy faggot and try to get me to climb into that crusher. And in that moment, I honestly don't know what to do.

101 comments:

Anonymous said...

You pick living. You pick joy. You pick happiness. Have a good week Franklin with no nightmares.

ccr in MA said...

Wow. Of course you made the right choice, but I'm not surprised that it still pops up. What a terrible thing for anyone to have to go through, but especially at that age! Bad M&Ms!

Recurring nightmares are awful. I used to have one where I went into the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and spiders poured out. *shudder*

Musclemom said...

As my dear godfather says: "La connerie humaine n'a pas de limites". I am sure your French is good enough to understand it -- I despise bullying in all its forms, especially when people gang up against you to entice you to do something particularly dangerous.

I admire that you, at 16 years of age, were able to stand up to these supposed adults. While the dream is scary, it reminds you that you should always go your own way, even when everyone around you disagrees.

shyknitter said...

I find when I have dreams like this (mine usually involve standing on very small platforms in very high places)my subconscious is trying to tell me I feel out of control and need to get myself grounded (literally in these dreams). Perhaps it isn't the M&M's that are at fault, but the lace knitting. Choosing one pattern over another must be full of conflicts, and your subconscious must be wrestling with the many choices.

PICAdrienne said...

What an awful nightmare. What an awful situation. Knowing you did the right thing does not help matters, especially in the land of nod. I think we all have some horrid nightmare that recurs on occasion.

And, girls can be far worse bullies, as it is not as direct, it is manipulative and backstabbing. Dealing with it is not any easier, but at least for guys...you know who the root cause of the bullying is.

Anonymous said...

I can't even begin to tell you how glad I am that you did not climb into that box crusher and that you are here today with us. I have only recently discovered your blog (through the wonderful world that is Ravelry, I am Greydog) and look forward to every new entry. It is a shame that you live in Chicago imstyead of Washington DC...I supect that we would be fast friends.

Sleep well....no bad dreams.

Kate

amy said...

I think I worked in that same supermarket, but in Rhode Island. Not that anyone forced me into the crusher. Just, the idiots in charge sound remarkably familiar.

And I once got slapped in the face by a coworker who overheard ANOTHER girl call her a bitch (or maybe slut?), and thought it was me. The injustice of this still pisses me off. And no, I didn't hit her back. I've never been one for catfights.

Mel said...

It's obvious, isn't it? You kick him squarely in the balls. Mindfully and with lots of loving kindness, of course.

mary e said...

Good lord, i'm shaking just reading about what you once went through, and are now consigned to dreaming about. I'm sending a hug with this comment, and a hope that your dreams tonight will be sweet ones...

Sharon Rose said...

You seem to always make the right choice... whether it's which lace pattern to knit or who to tell off... Good for you and your badass 16 yr old self!

To help the dreams go away, press 1) on the top of your head, just over the ears, and 2) the front center, about a half inch past where your hairline would be. Point them towards each other before bed, just for a few seconds, and think peaceful thoughts. May I suggest a bed of cashmere skeins?

Lolee said...

Damn. I applaud your strength of character at only 16. Most of us are so nervous and young on our first jobs we would have done what our manager said and got crushed.

Anonymous said...

Remember karma; I wouldn't like to be in the shoes of those supervisors karma-wise. I'm so glad you survived all that!

Sweet dreams tonight!

Jenny

Katie K said...

Yikes! So glad you survived!

geogrrl said...

Speaking as someone who was a little girl, when I appealed for help, I got:

1. Just ignore them. They'll get tired of it and stop.
2. You should learn to fight back.

So being a female child is no guarantee of help, either.

SagePixie said...

Damn I love Mel!
Seriously, since your dreaming anyway go for it.

and I'm new to this buddhist bit but isn't there a meditation technique to deal with this. You go back to that time you tell yourself something, you use forgiveness and you recognize the opportunity for you to be peacefully strong against violent opposition. I dunno but something is peaking my memory.

It sounds horribly cruel to yourself to be all groundhog day about this.

Courtney the Knitting Goddess said...

I'm glad you stood up for yourself! I understand the recurring nightmares of bad memories; it's as awful in the recollection as it was in the moment, and often worse. While the people in them are powerless to hurt you now, their memories still do. As long as you hold on to those feelings of hurt, the people who wanted to hurt you still win. I hope that you will learn to accept those painful memories and recognize their inability to harm you now, too. Sending hugs and peaceful thoughts your way.

--TECHknitter said...

Oh Franklin. How horrible. No more M&M's, OK? Sleep well tonight, and no more bad dreams.

noethsusieq said...

shit, man, i'd give up the fuckin' m&m's too.

(dirty sue)

Ruth said...

I'm glad you didn't get in. Way to stand your ground (against the assholes, not the discount candy).

Jeanne said...

My God, what a traumatic incident! I agree with Musclemom about it being a reminder to go your own way.

It could also be a reminder to keep your best interests in mind, and if that means standing up for yourself in the face of unsettling consequences, then do it. Do it with confidence, knowing there is a higher reason for any perceived "bad" following the outcome.

I should take my own advice.

Lynne E. said...

There are some people who are just too stupid to live. Obviously, you're not one of them!

Judy in Indiana said...

I so often wish I could wipe away the pain of others. But having survived what you have been through makes you stronger today. And I am sure it helps your sense of humor to know they will always be assholes but you are a Harvard educated soon to be published author.It helps too that you are increibly hot and talented on many levels.

Robbyn said...

For what it's worth, even girls get the "What's the matter with you? Fight back!" except that tended to alternate with the exhortation "Girls don't fight".

So I never knew what to do either.

I also am addicted to peanut M&Ms :)

Leigh Witchel said...

Rule #1 - Never share your nightmares with anyone who isn't paid to listen to them.

xoxoxo!

Cheri said...

Sweet dreams Franklin. I actually woke my husband up once with a nightmare. When I awoke I was screaming and fighting, I swore I was being mugged. It was horrible and I'm glad that it's never recurred. I hope that yours stays away too.

Carol said...

Holy crap. The fact that they didn't fire the sonuvabitch boggles the mind. Then again, after the hell store I quit a few years back I guess not.

I got told as a little girl,"Don't let them know they bother you and they will stop." Yeah, right.

Jan said...

At first my heart ached for the young man that you were, seeing how the dream showed your fear and vulnerability but now I see it as a reflection of your clear headedness and courage in the face of true danger with no one else on your side. One can't appreciate the courage without seeing it in context. I celebrate your courage and clear thinking.

Steven said...

I have my own scary memories of a similar job, only way less sadistic. Reading your story really gave me the creeps. Spot on about how the world treats us boys of a sensitive nature.

Sorry you had to go through that crap, and that it keeps coming back. You did the right thing.

Yarngineer TM said...

Don't know if it makes you feel any better, but this little girl had to stand up to many male and female bullies. (Teachers, parents and peers did not care.) And those same types of people still try to bully us in our adult lives.

Standing up to them doesn't always make it better, but it sure does help your feelings a little.

Jackie said...

Isn’t it interesting how childhood crap chooses to regurgitate far into adulthood? I don’t get nightmares but I do occasionally experience situations that trigger me. Even though I know consciously that the Bigots were wrong and I was a lovely little girl back then, there’s Something from Them still around, deep down inside. A couple of times a year, there would be a trigger that would give this Something a tiny little burst of fuel, just enough for It to reach waaaaaay up from deep down inside and touch me lightly behind my eyes.

Liz Cadorette said...

My God, Franklin, nightmare forsooth! I am sensible of the honor that you would share this with we "strangers". I don't know that I'd blame the M&Ms, but certainly if that's the case and it were me, I'd avoid the ruddy things in future.

What a horrific thing to have to go through, and what an amazing man you are to have become the confident, articulate and wonderful person we see in these pages! Thank you again for telling us.

June said...

Dude, that (real-life experience) sucks rocks. And to think that you re-live it on a recurring basis. Maybe switch to tacos as a late night snack?

TheJenmeister said...

As someone who has survived bullying and a grocery job (and currently muddles through recurring nightmares), I can completely sympathize. Perhaps herbal tea with a touch of honey before bed (if you hate chamomile you can find ones without), and earlier in the evening snack on post-holiday sale Peeps? Their joyous colors and marshmallowy chick and bunny love will be just the thing to keep away bullies--physical or mental. Might I also recommend knitting a cashmere teddy bear filled with lavender to snuggle with as you doze off?

Carrie K said...

Wow, that's horrible. I'm thankful I was a sissy girl.

I don't suppose you can guide your dream so that you toss all of them into the box crusher. They'd make a lovely coffee table.

Red said...

Wow.

You haven't been reading about this bullied boy in Arkansas, were you?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/24/us/24land.html?em&ex=1206504000&en=6d8589f0b8bbf30d&ei=5087%0A

Glad you found your strength to resist. And it is the indecision that makes things worse.

Thanks for such honesty.

Anonymous said...

You know how you get a song sticking in your head and it plays over and over and over.... And you woke up with it and its with you all day... And the only way you can GET RID of this song that is loopy loopying in your head is to SING it at someone. Ahhhh. That song is no longer in your brain and has now taken up residence in someone else's brain and now also BELONGS to someone else!

OK. That's it. You sang your "song" and it now belongs to all of us - your faithful readers. You never have to be alone in thst horrible place with horrible people again. We will all be standing with you right there in that other realm. Do you see us?

WE WILL STAB THEM WITH OUR SHARP POINTY NEEDLES! WE WILL CHOKE THEM WITH CHEAP ACRILIC! AND, BEST OF ALL, WE WILL LAUGH AT THEM....ALL TOGETHER AND WITH GREAT GUSTO AND SPIRIT.

You have given us so much and shared all. We can do no less.

theprofessionalaunt

Donna Lee said...

Mine is about bridges falling apart at my feet and I'm stranded not knowing where to go or what to do. I have it when I am faced with some challenge or problem that feels monumental. I always wake up in a sweat and miserable. And I can't blame the peanut m&m's. And good on you for standing up to a bully. That's not easy for anyone to do.

=Tamar said...

Clearly you made the right choice. That was attempted murder and you beat them!

Re the dreams and sugar connection: someone once said they only got weird ideas when they were low on vitamin B12. The B vitamins are used up when you metabolize sugar, and you get them from eating meat. I recommend a high-protein meal to counteract sugar.

Anonymous said...

Next time you have that horrible dream make a hammer appear in your hand and smash the machine. Or walk away. Or both. (the hammer's very satisfying though)

You'll reappear, do it again. Keep doing this and you will kill that nightmare. I've had several reoccuring work nightmares. None so horrible as yours, most are being stuck at work, endlessly repeating a stupid task, KNOWING I'm actually at home asleep but... there's all this work to do.

But this is, as someone pointed out, your subconcious asking you something.

Good luck with it; I am glad you had the sense NOT to climb in there. No way in hell should you have to risk your life for your stupid job.

QuietdanMN said...

The moment of indecision that replays was a tremendous crossroads in your life. It had a meaning then, and it still does today. It brings about the complexities of fear and courage. Does this nightmare recur at other times when you are at a crossroads? Perhaps that is the deeper meaning here. Clearly, you made a wise and courageous choice before. I'm certain that you will find the guidance and courage to make the best choices for you going forward.

The guys tormenting you were the sissies. They were the ones who were stupid. You were wise and strong...and still are!

Give up the snack if you must, but never give up that courageous spirit.

Be well!

Alwen said...

Well, I think you were incredibly brave and smart as heck.

The world is richer because you weren't squashed flat.

knitica said...

I bet none of them have a successful, widely read, and well loved knitting blog. Losers.

Helen said...

One of my recurring nightmares is about trying to turn the radio off and it won't go off. I realize this doesn't sound like much, but it can be very wearing. Your dream is much worse, and the fact that it is based on a real event makes it even more dreadful. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I'm so glad that guy didn't get into Harvard.

And yes, little girls can be horrible - Margaret Atwood says something in Cat's Eye about 'little girls in twin sets' and I know exactly what she means; I'm older than you and I'm still nervous of women in groups, although come to think about it, I don't actually have nightmares about them.

quinn said...

Personally, I don't think peanut m&m's are worth it.
Maybe try a different candy?

Linda L. said...

Control issue nightmares are no fun. I am so glad, in real life, that you told those idiots where they could stuff their cardboard! Remember that, and maybe the bad dreams will subside.

As a girl victim of bullying, I was told 1.) ignore them and they'll stop, and 2.) he's only doing it because he likes you. Can you think of anything more wrong than those two options? Strangely enough, 25 years later the ringleader bully (who I hadn't seen for 20 years) made a rude comment to me on our High School reunion message board. I swung back with some really pointed barbs (a riff on the MasterCard commercials that ended with him drunk on tequila and dancing on the bar to Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" - priceless); the rest of my former classmates laughed and said "good one", and the former bully emailed me privately and apologized. So there is hope for some of the idiots to be rehabilitated.

I just wish I'd stood up to the weasel back in 7th grade... it's sad how some people must make others feel miserable in order to feel better about themselves. Such sad, little people...

Riin said...

Wow. Congratulations on choosing life over minimum wage.

(Now you've got me thinking of the crappy minimum wage bakery job I had one summer, with the adding machines that gave electric shocks, and the maggots, and the three month old "day old" cookies...shudder!)

Philip Akin said...

Ah the old recurring dreams thang. I have invented the unique multi-purpose dream shredder for all those pesky nightmares. Forget dream catchers I mean who actually ever cleans those things out.
No for my money when I get those "start all over again" nightmares is to imagine a gray bar at the bottom of the dream and when it starts up again the image just gets sucked down and shredded. You do this a couple of times and presto change-o it's gone.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that not everyone thinks that boys need to resort to violence. I am married to my childhood friend whom I met when I was 12 years old and he was 10. At 13 he was over six feet and almost 200 pounds. He was also bullied by boys 1/3 of his size that thought his calm, loving and gentle nature was synonym to being a pussy. One day I was very pissed off about the bullying and asked him why he did not just hit them. He looked at me, smiled, and asked me what could happen to them if he decided to do that. He was actually being merciful to them, because he could crush all of them like a bunch of little cockroaches. Now we have a 9 month old son, and we both agree have no expectations for him other than raising an honest, respectful, considerate, and – hopefully – happy human being, no matter if he wants to be a janitor of if he wants to go to Harvard. Good for you for standing for your safety!

Joe said...

Franklin, it's funny how we sometimes think our experiences as gay adolescent men are somehow unique. When in fact, they aren't. This isn't meant to minimize your experience at all but to let you know that many of us go to bed tonight who share in your experience. We may not have been in the "crusher" but we were there on the street corner, in the lavatory, at gym or at school dances and what I try to remind myself is that those awful moments turned us into remarkable, creative men. You lead the pack and if you don't remind yourself often enough, we're here to help.

I say eat as many M&M's before bed as you want, read a dirty magazine and have a dream you wouldn't dare share on your blog.

Linda 'K' said...

Don't blame the M&M's! You work out - you deserve them! Never any shortage of cruelty in "Good Ole Boys" clubs. So! Didjoo learn to crush those boxes in prizzin? Pretty much, eh?

Cindy G said...

Oh God, Franklin.
The casual brutality of human cruelty is enough to make the stars weep.

Sue said...

As someone who grew up in and still lives in central NY, I hope this didn't happen in one of the villages near me.

I commend you for standing up to those idiots! The stupidity of some people leaves me speechless!

pamela said...

Just horrifying!

Kristen said...

Jeezusgod. I am so sorry to hear this. Makes the torment I endured in junior high seem insignificant. Thank you for your courage--we are blessed to have you with us today.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is I bet none of them are wildly popular bloggers, publishing their own books, who know without a doubt who they are and what they contribute to the world. They might have felt superior for that single summer, but seems to me like the universe has made sure that karmic balance was restored. I bet they're 50 lbs overweight, divorced, and still managers at the grocery store.

Tippy

Rabbitch said...

Don't climb into the crusher, that's what to do.

You're welcome.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

The NYT had an above the fold article about a 16 year old in Fayetteville, Arkansas who is apparently being beaten up by most everyone in his school. It is heartbreaking. What is wrong with us as a species that we either do this or allow it? How can bullying be a Darwinian PLUS?
Do you ever do directed dreaming... as in make the dream turn out THE WAY YOU WISH IT WOULD?
Too bad the Child Protection people or some other government agency wasn't lying in wait....

RodgerM said...

It's a dream, right? If you can, you could try the following in the dream:

You begin singing as 40 high-kicking drag-queen Merino sheep begin to infiltrate the shop and start a lovely number on the wonders of wool, colourwork, lace, and all that is Elizabeth Zimmermann. This culminates in them crushing the night crew beneath their pointy stilleto boots.

I remember being told the same things in school. I also remember going "No, it's YOUR JOB to STOP THEM. SO DO IT."

My momma always taught me: If people won't give you what you deserve nicely, make them. If you can't make them, make them pay.

Nic said...

Real strenght of spirit to stand up to them, well done. I was a geeky kid, but the bullying I suffered was minimal, a bit of name calling, really. Didnt do my self esteem much good, but I survived.

Dreams are funny things - I had one as a child and teenager, but very rarely as an adult, where I was chased by a traditional ventriloquist's dummy. I still can't look at one (in fact just writing about them makes me feel sick). I am now a primary teacher and my recurrant dream/nightmare is being chased by a 6 foot headlouse. Go figure.

Take care Franklin x

Anonymous said...

The same bits of advice were handed out to little girls too. Fighting back was a delicious option.

You could not be badgered, threatened or insulted into the cage. That is courage and independence, even if there was indecision. Bullies like that tend to grow into adult men with big bellies and drive Hummers. There is no beauty, real freedom or glee in their lives. A life like that is a living hell.

Bravo for you!

Meribeth

Helen said...

Bullying isn't restricted to any group...I was bullied at school for being fat and a swot. The school wouldn't do anything, and eventually my mum found out. She considered for a few moments, then said thoughtfully "Hit him." I protested...she insisted. So the next day, the bully started on me. I decked him. Literally. Flat on his back in the school yard. I don't normally advocate violence, but in this case? Most Satisfying Thing Ever. I don't know where he is now, but I bet I'm better-educated, better-balanced and an all-round better person than him. You know what Franklin? I'll bet its just the same in your case. Thank you for sharing. (((Hugs))) Helen

Janet said...

I'm wondering if I am going to have nightmares myself after reading your account. That's a rather extreme and harrowing case of bullying. I wonder what life paths those high school bullies have followed.

Kate said...

Acknowledge that you accrued sufficient good karma in a previous life that enabled you to have the necessary fortitude to tell the bastard NO!

I did fight back a verbal bully the only way I could as a not-very-verbally-adept 6 year old - I kicked her. I was then labelled a bully when the little whiner went and told on me. Non-violence is the better path...

Bronchitkat said...

Well, it's nice to know the 'faggot' had more balls than all those big, macho guys! Probably still has.

What is it with men/adolescent males?

Lisa C. said...

OMG, Franklin, what an awful thing. No wonder it haunts your dreams. I would, however, like to point out that not all adults blow off bulling as a right of passage. (((HUGS)))

anne marie in philly said...

betcha those same people from the grocery store are either (a) still there or (b) flipping burgers.

idiots like that deserve to be crushed in the box crusher!

whilst you are writing books and using your talents to bring joy into the world. go franklin go!

Mary said...

What a courageous kid you were to stand up to that shit at 16!

Ros Ritchie said...

As a mum of a slightly geeky 7 year old, I live in dread of him having to face that kind of bullying. I hope and pray he'd have the strength to say no like you and the grace to forgive them for their stupidity.

I too was bullied - at school, mainly by the boys in my class although some of the girls joined in too and more recently at work by a female director who somehow got a kick out of breaking people who didn't quite fit the mould. I didn't fit and what she did to me was very damaging. I came close to having a nervous breakdown. For a long time I'd have regularly recurring dreams about the times she'd bullied me, waking up in a cold sweat and my heart racing. Not a lot of fun so I can sympathise with your experience. I felt haunted.

The key to unlocking the situation for me and for regaining my own sense of self worth was to forgive her. By holding on to my anger, shame and fear, I was somehow letting her win. By forgiving her, I wasn't denying the "crime" or letting her off the hook: indeed, the very act of forgiveness meant there was something to forgive. It started as an act of will; I chose to forgive her, on a daily basis. And eventually my feelings caught up. One day, I realised the dream had stopped and I had truly forgiven her. Since that time I have lived in freedom from all that fear and pain. It's a great place, to be on the other side of it.

Thanks for sharing and for your honesty. May you also find a way to be free of it one day.

Roxie said...

As it turns out, you DID know what to do! And you do. You deserve medals, you Lionheart!

FiberQat said...

Holy bananas! A fellow grocery clerk survivor. I didn't have the sadists tormenting me; just an overzealous feminist who threatened to make my life miserable if I was promoted before she was and a randy produce clerk who offered me cheap jewelry. It's been twenty years since I worked there and I still have dreams where I walk in the store, where all hell has broken loose and start helping the crew check out the groceries of the lines of customers (imagine the Saturday before Christmas). And I can't get out of the checkstand for life or money.

Girls can be just as mean if not meaner. There's nothing like being tormented by a bunch of girls and being told later by your parents that girls don't do things like that and it's all in your mind.

Anonymous said...

I have a recurring dream/nightmare from childhood that every once in while pops out when I'm stressed or anxious about something going on in my current life.

I deal with it differently every time, but now that I've realized the "trigger" (being a current stress) it helps me focus my energy on solving the problem of now and not reliving the problem of then.

I like Mel's suggestion. Although in my opinion you plainly telling them "No" is the same, just not as adrenaline rushed gratifying.

Thanks for sharing. Thanks for writing. Thanks for the humor. Thank you for showing that having muscles and knitting is not an oxymoron. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

VA said...

Sorry, the anonymous post above is from me, "VA", not that you know me but I hate to leave things unsigned and apparently I can't read your verification text. Bleh!

Anonymous said...

Those people at the store got it so wrong, sometimes lots of people are wrong about the same thing at the same time. In your dream Perhaps you perseived something about yourself as a weekness, that actually is not.

I too, am glad you did the right thing Franklin. Stop doubting yourself!

Say were those cases of M&M's he was nearly dropping on you?

Judy G. said...

Are you perchance facing a big decision in real life right now? Have a good sleep tonight.

KnitNana said...

Same grocery, but this time with a middle-aged manager who groped his young female employees. I walked out the first day. No explanation to anyone.

Should have had the courage to at least report him to upper management, but I was only strong enough to remove myself. (It was after all, 1973.)
(sigh)

I am infinitely grateful that you had the strength of character to stand up to them and NOT get in that crusher.

Can't imagine what life without reading your blog would be like!
(((hugs)))

Lynne said...

Jeez! And I thought MY recurring nightmare was a doozie! I'm impressed that you had the courage of your convictions at such a young age, when peer pressure is damned near overwhelming. Knit on! Franklin, and quit eating those M&Ms just before bedtime. And a big hug for that inner teenager.

LaurieM said...

Isn't it ironic that they'd call you stupid and sissy, when really you were smart enough not to listen to them and brave enough to stand up to them.

I think you need to have a therapeutic moment of telling them what you really think of them, the murderous thugs.

Sarah said...

I'm sure those jerks are still working in that lousy supermarket and you are on your constant path to greater-ness (you're already great!).

Now I just want to give you a hug and say everything will be alright. (Stupid mothering instincts and all)

My biggest nightmare is harm coming to either my hubby or children, especially when I was pregnant.

tricotchick said...

You should put Dolores onto them!

Although your dream terrifies you, Franklin, I think you are terribly brave to stand up to those jerks. Have a cup of your favorite tea, wrap yourself in your fans'admiration and love, post Dolores at your bedroom door, and sleep well.

Save the peanut M&Ms for breakfast.

Tiny Tyrant said...

You call your lovely friend Candance over to kick their behinds.

They'd leave you alone and NEVER admit a girl took em out.

Glad to see you survived.

Carol said...

The brutality of youth. Horrible. Did that guy also drive an IROC?

Silas said...

I was pointed to this entry by my mother, Jean from Cornwall. I can empathise. I don't think I ever quite had it as bad as that moment of indecision, but I did suffer bullying, and at a tenderer age. Thank you for the reminder that, first of all, bullying is not forever, even though it feels like it at the time, and second that it's OK not to conform to stereotypes.

If I were you, I'd lay off the M&Ms, even though they're remarkably non-scary as candy goes. I recently discovered the existence of chocolate-flavoured Skittles...

Lyda said...

Oh, Franklin, what a truly horrible experience. Your courage and strength continue to inspire me. Sending you lots of love and sweet dreams.

I'm shocked that the manager didn't get fired. I would have fired him and the rest of those bullies. The other shit he did to you was horrific too, and he should have been fired for any ONE of those things. It all gives me the willies about my own teenager going out into the world.

I like what theprofessionalaunt and rodgerm suggested. I also like the "smash the crusher with a big hammer" idea.

Just a thought - have you considered setting Delores on them? Bwahahahahaha!

KellyD said...

I'll have the Franklin Box to go. Fries and a Large Diet with that please!

stitchinghermit said...

Wow! I'm not a guy and have never been a bully, but I did not get any crap and was not known for taking it. I grew up in Rural Minnesota, my dad had been a boxer and taught all six of his girls to stand their ground and not let people get by with being jerks.
Badly done on supervisory parts, well done on yours, glad your here to write about it.
Franklin, you did well, don't let your dreams beat you up.

Leslie said...

Gandhi would be proud of you.

Susan said...

Oh dear. I spent a full 7 years in Oswego, NY - between Syracuse & Buffalo, smack on Lake Ontario. I know exactly the kind of cretin of which you speak.

Thank goodness, Franklin, THANK GOODNESS.

As you can tell, we're all glad you're here, honey. I mean, who else would be willing to pay those insane bar bills that Dolores is so capable of racking up with dizzying speed?

Carol said...

I have an invisible demon with a capital D the chases me. Maybe next time I can steer it your way to play with your bosses. Amazing what misery does to people. Sleep well~sweet dreams.

knitnzu said...

You've probably stopped reading your comments by now... but freaky how the dream is so much a replay of what happened. Here's a dream therapy trick I learned (and with interesting/self reflective results)... ask the thing in your dream that frightens you for a gift.

nosenabook said...

I was afraid this nightmare was that you got in to the crusher and ... I don't know what comes next but it couldn't be good.

Thank goodness you didn't get in.

handknitter said...

So last night my 17 year old son, who is currently employed as a bagger at our local grocery store, mentioned that he had been running the baler at work, when I interrupted him to say, "Don't you have to be 18 to run the baler?"

"Um, yeah," he said in a surprised voice, while looking at me kind of suspiciously.

Thank you for your timely post which allowed me to appear scarily knowledgeable in front of my know-it-all son.

My husband's comment was, "What's a baler?"

And I, therefore, happily retained the title of The Smart(er) Parent for yet another day.

katerina said...

I hope by telling us all, you have expelled it from your dreams. I am amazed as always at your strength and courage and forsight. Wishing you the Sweetest of Dreams from here on out.

five13 wannabe said...

You can't fight your subconscious, but when you're awake and considering all of this remember that you did indeed know the right thing to do, and that standing up to the bullying means that you are by no means a sissy, no matter what might go on in your bedroom. ;)

It's probably all just a sign that big stress is making you feel like you're not in control. This is completely normal, and you should enjoy it for the interesting demonstration of the quirky workings of the human brain that it is.

2ply said...

My goodness. What a horrible dream and all the worse because it relates to what actually happened to you. Knowing that they were SO jealous doesn't help at all, does it?
It always feels as though one's subconscious should actually be on your own side, but all it does is poke you in your most painful parts, which it knows better than anyone else. It's a sort of double agent, the git.
Hope the nightmares go soon. Hug!

Sally Webster said...

Wow Franklin, you are one courageous guy to stand your ground in front of those sadistic bullies. You should be really proud of yourself. Let's hope the publication of your nightmare lays it to rest.

Anonymous said...

A wee bit late here, as usual. Those guys called you a faggot and other not so nice names? You were told you'd be fired. At 16 you found the strength within yourself to say no. Then you went to the owner, explained the situation, and went back to work. Very brave. Very adult.

A normally shy person, you have gone out to photograph friends you didn't know you had.

You are one of the bravest people I know, Franklin. Allow me to add scary brilliant, intelligent, forgiving, brilliantly hysterically funny, compassionate, and you manage to keep Dolores in check (somewhat).

Tell the M & Ms to stop with the nightmares, and to provide you with a kick ass lace pattern.

alala said...

A bit late to the party, but I want to say that you are a hero for saying no. At 16, no less - I didn't have that kind of courage at that age. Also, if you want to give me that night supervisor's name, I'll find him and kick his ass for you. He's probably pretty old by now, I bet I could take him.

FugueStateKnits said...

Damn I hate assholes like that! Obviously they were so secure in their sexuality, they needed to show it with you.
Jerks!
Sorry, I hate, detest, want to hurt, bullies:)

Petunia said...

In what passes for justice in this world, "they" are still in the stockroom, and you continue to rise. Many are proud to know you; few speak to them.

AlisonH said...

Wow. I read this and had to come back later to even begin to be able to process the horror of what they did and tried to do. Thank you for standing up to the unspeakable bullies. You stood up for each of us in your future when you stood up for yourself. And you protected a deeply good and kind soul whom I admire. Yours.

Whichy said...

having myself been the victim of a spectacular amount of hazing as a child - you have my complete and utter sympathy -

And you aren't alone - I still have flashbacks to how I dealt with the things then.

and suffice it to say - girls are just as bad as boys - but I think they might be sneakier.

*hugs*