© 2018 by Kate Ryan.

I moved to New York after college, and I was pursuing acting as a career. 

So I needed a waitressing job. 

 

I walked up and down 5th avenue in Park slope and gave my resume to everyone would take it. 

 

{E’s first call was from a man named Juventino, the owner of Get Fresh Table and Market.}

 

He gave this whole speech about how it was this very intense work environment.

Only the strong survive.

But you make a lot of money, and a lot of very creative people work there. 

He offered the job, and I accepted it. 

 

And he was a monster.

 

*

 

He hired a bunch of young women. 

It was often our first job in New York or we were--there were a lot of women who were undocumented or English was their second language. 

The job was their life line. 

 

And he was degrading as a general proposition. 

I don't think it was as much about sex as it was about power for him. 

He would enjoy screaming at us and making us scrub the bathroom and watching. 

He would always demean us and call us sluts and whores. 

He would call it his harem, Juvetino's harem. 

 

And he was always drunk at work. 

So as the night would progress he would get more and more aggressive and handsy. 

And he would take a bottle of wine into his office.

Everyone said he used to masturbate while we were working. 

To the sounds of us working. 

And sometimes he'd look out the little window.

There's a certain tone that men use that makes me angry, irrationally. 

Absolutely irrationally angry. 

And it was the tone he used whenever he was talking down to us. 

I don't handle being talked down to well now. 

I'm angry about it more that it's probably reasonable to be.

 

I think maybe the hopeful thing about this is that, for a certain type of woman, you forge in iron our anger. 

 

As I get older and get some distance on it, I can still access that thing without it taking over and ruining my life.

 

*

 

Part of the thing driving me to go to law school was some El Woods style revenge fantasy about taking Juventino down. 

 

And I think things like being able to be a lawyer and have agency--last week I submitted the first pleading I had written in full--these moments where I am powerful are really helpful when I get really frustrated and angry about this stuff. 

 

*

 

I'll say that this story is the one that I wanted to tell, but it's not my only #metoo story and I think with most women, like, there are probably a hundred stories we could tell. 

 

I turn 30 this year.

Part of me feels relieved that I'm stepping out of this time in my life when my body and my sexuality were such a commodity that defined the way I existed in the world. 

But on the flip side, I've been so conditioned to mourn that and see myself as less valuable as that becomes something that's in my past. 

It's a really interesting moment to reflect on what you're liberated from and also how people might value you less.

 

And the #metoo stuff has been really great and wonderful. 

But it's also focused on people in these positions of power that are so high level. 

The reality is that, even these small power structures like little restaurants, if there is some modicum of power, some horny man is going to abuse it.

 

-E

{E said she remembered forcing a bottle of wine open and somehow slicing her thumb open in the process.  She went back to the kitchen to clean up, and Juventino was there.}

 

He was screaming at the kitchen staff. 

 

And he saw me bleeding, and he grabbed me around, like from behind. 

He put his whole body around me, and he squeezed my thumb out over the bucket of water where you would dump your dirty dish rags. 

His hands and my hands were covered in my blood, and he dunked both of our hands into the thing. 

 

And he was like, "I don't want you to get a single fucking drip of blood over the fucking food.”

 

It was his whole body just sort of surrounding me while he was literally making me bleed. 

But I didn't know better, and I stayed at the job. 

And concededly the money was good.

 

*

 

It was a million little things that always made you feel scared and constantly on edge. 

And you sort of internalized the things that he would say. 

 

He was an incredibly jealous guy. 

Anytime anybody mentioned having a date or flirted with a guy at a table or mentioned having a boyfriend, he would immediately ice that person out. 

He would give us bad shifts. 

He would treat us extra poorly on the floor.

 

Your whole worth is based on how much he wanted to fuck you at that very moment. 

Your whole value is based on how much you were willing to make yourself his.

 

And I was one of his best-off girls there. 

There were a lot of girls who had it much worse including one young woman who Juventino locked in his office and basically told her to suck his dick or she'd be fired. 

 

*

 

He used to take us out after shifts. 

It was not mandatory, but it was. 

He would take us out to restaurants afterwards, usually in groups of one or two. 

And then at a certain point--we tried not to leave each other, but at a certain point one of us would leave and then the other one would be stuck with him. 

 

One night I was wearing this strappy dress, and he was like playing with the straps to make my boobs bounce up and down. 

And I told him to stop. 

And he wouldn't stop.

And then it eventually broke. 

And he was just grabbing my boob. 

And I just covered myself and ran out of the restaurant and got in a cab and left. 

And that was the worst thing. 

 

*

 

I had dreams about the restaurant long after I left. 

There was a rule where you would knock--like (knock-knock) before you were allowed to open the kitchen door.

It gives me anxiety.

 

I used to live in Park Slope, and when I walked past the street where I worked, at first I used to get overcome with fear and anger.

And I would cross the street before I would walk past the restaurant. 

 

After a certain point, I was far enough away from it that I would just walk past the restaurant flicking it off.

‚Äč

*

 

After I left, 22 women put together a website called “Juventino Disclosed” and published allegations about him. 

They were all anonymous. 

They all mirrored my experiences exactly. 

And I was not one of them. 

 

None of us {the women who worked at the restaurant when E did} were part of that group of 22. 

So there were 22 people that I didn't know who had all had the same experience.

 

There was a lot of press coverage.  

Some people were really supportive. 

But some--everybody thought we were lying, we were disgruntled, we were not realistic about how you have to suck it up at work.