A year ago, I worked for an advertising company. It was very much a boy’s club. There were only three women in an office of 20, and as the receptionist, I received the brunt of their bad behavior. There were a lot of jokes that in most companies would have been seen as sexual harassment, but where I worked, it was the norm. To dare challenge them would have been an instant firing, and I knew I would never have the money to go up against these men in a legal case. I was unhappy there, but I was constantly on the lookout for new jobs and had to put up with it until I found something new.
Every year, the office did a huge Easter charity raffle in conjunction with a client function. The prize was always something very grand. The year before, it had been a trip to the Maldives — and this year, it was a new car. I had been driving around in my old heap of junk for the previous six years and was desperate for an upgrade but my wage wouldn’t allow it.
I was put in charge of distributing the tickets to all the clients and collecting the money, so I hatched a plan. One night, I stayed back late and scanned all the tickets and sent them out to the clients. When they were returned to the office, I kept them aside in my desk drawer. After a month of collecting the tickets, I waited until a few people were around and made it obvious that this year, I would be purchasing a ticket too. With fingers crossed, I exaggeratedly proclaimed my excitement as I put $100 into the tin where the money was being kept.
The day before the drawing, I stayed behind late. As the last of the men left the office, they yelled out an inappropriate comment — and it was then I knew I was going ahead with my plan. I shredded all the scanned tickets and put them in the trash for the cleaners that night. On all the original tickets, I painstakingly filled out all my details. The next night at the function, I could barely contain my nerves. My hands were sweating and I was filled with regret at my decision, but it was too late to back out.
Finally, the time arrived for the managing director to draw the winner. He mentioned for me to bring over the box with the tickets in it and, microphone in hand, he yelled out to one of our biggest clients to come and draw one out.
The next minute or two was a blur, but my name was called out and as I was already nervous, I’m sure my shock and disbelief at winning looked real.
There was a moment of sheer terror when the usual jeers that the contest was “rigged” and should be redrawn were yelled out. That’s when I thought the client may dip his hands in again and it would be all over for me. However, people began to clap and pat me on the back and congratulate me.
I quickly removed the box and gave it to one of the caterers to put in the trash to destroy any evidence of my deception. After the evidence had been destroyed, I beamed. I finally had something to show for the two years of mistreatment.
It was only a couple of months later that I finally found a new job I loved and where I was appreciated. To this day, I still feel guilty about rigging the drawing — but not so guilty that I don’t enjoy driving around in my lovely new car.
This article was written by the Woman’s Day Team. For more, check out our sister site, Now to Love.