Shukla Kumar’s Story
Bianca’s next stop was at the Negril Resort.
“Hi. I’m Shukla Kumar. I’m thirty years old. I’m originally from India; however, I am married to an American and we have been married now for seven years. We have one six-year-old son and another one on the way. I’ve been working here for about a year now.”
“Welcome, Shukla, and congratulations,” Bianca said. “What made you get a job here at Negril Resort?”
“Well, I was looking for something not too stressful and something that was flexible; something part-time and that did not use up too much of my day-time hours as I wanted my evenings and nights free so I could be home for my son and husband. This has worked out perfectly for me. Plus, I love doing house cleaning.”
“Wonderful,” Bianca said. “Please share your story. We’re all ears.”
“I don’t know if this would fit into your book, but I had just finished cleaning my first room at the end of the hallway and had pushed my cart on to the next room. I knocked on the door. Someone reached out and put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the doorknob and said, “Please come back much later. I’m trying to get some sleep. In fact, come back tomorrow.” As I was making a note of that on my clipboard, this man walked up and started pushing my cart.”
* * * * *
“Hey!” I said. “What are you doing?”
“Hey to you, sweetheart. I’m Billy D. Just helping a lady in distress,” he said.
“I’m not in distress, and I can handle that. Leave it alone,” I said, taking a few steps in his direction.
“Seems like you were in distress to me. You couldn’t even get in to clean that room,” he said as he kept on pushing the cart at a leisurely stroll.
I grabbed the handlebar to the cart to try to stop him, but he held on firmly and kept on pushing.
“You give me my cart right now. This is not a time to play whoever you are,” I said. I was truly taken aback by this man’s audacity.
“Do I look like I’m playing?” he said glancing at me. “Wow! You look even more beautiful when you’re surprised and frustrated. What’s that black mark on your forehead? Are you a native of India? It gives you away.”
I could not help the smile that came upon my lips as I tried in vain to stop him pushing my cart. “Well, I’m not playing with you. Stop this minute. You’re passing by the rooms I need to clean. Are you ignorant?” I said.
“Are you sure you can get into those rooms? You couldn’t get into the first room,” he said, ignoring my insult.
“The second room,” I muttered.
One of my coworkers who was cleaning one of the rooms on the other side of the hallway heard the commotion, stuck her head out the doorway and looked at us with surprise. I shrugged my shoulders as we passed by her.
“It’s not what you’re thinking,” I said to her.
Billy D stopped before the door all the way at the other end of the hallway. Still holding on to the cart he unlocked the door and tried to push the cart into the room.
“Well, I’ll be. The cart’s too wide. Can you believe that? You are so beautiful,” he said. “Since you’re already down here, come clean my room first while I take a shower.”
“Mr. Whatever you said your name was . . .”
“Whatever. Your room is not on my list of rooms to be cleaned, so give me my cart so I can go tend to my business,” I said.
“I’m sure your co-worker won’t mind you helping her out. She’s not as pretty as you,” he said. “Quiet down. You’re getting a little loud. Come on in and do your job, my lovely Indian girl.”
He pushed the cart away from the entrance leaving just enough space to slide in, grabbed my wrist and started to gently but forcefully pull me into his room. I was in shock. I slapped my free hand onto the door post and called out to my co-worker: “Janelle, help!” She had been watching the whole thing and was already making her way down the hallway.
“Leave her alone, Slick Rick! Or I’ll call management and the police and have you thrown out,” she said. “I clean this room anyway.”
When she got to the cart, she grabbed up a towel, a face cloth, and a toilet paper roll and tossed them into the room.
“You do your own cleaning today. And whatever needs picking up off the floor, you become a human vacuum cleaner, get down on your knees and pick up what you see. Don’t you close that door on me; I’m still talking. It’s quite apparent you had more than room service in mind, Slick Rick.”
“Billy D. My name’s Billy D,” he said while closing the door.
“Would you like for me to come brew your coffee? Hot coffee feels real good going down one’s chest,” Janelle said.
Billy D shut and bolted the door. With that, Janelle and I pushed the cart back to the other end of the hallway.
“You have to play tough, be tough, and look tough to let these men know you’re no push-over,” Janelle said. “Next time that happens or some man tries to mess with you, if you can’t kick him in the front where it really hurts, kick him in the rear then run and scream your head off. You did exactly what he wanted you to do, and that is, to play along with him. Let’s clean the rest of the rooms together.”
* * * * *
“Thank God for all the Janelle’s out there,” Rashad, one of the other resort workers, said, giving Janelle a thumb’s up.
“Janelle and I laugh about it now,” Shukla said. “Thanks again, J.”
“You’re more than welcome. We have to look out for each other,” Janelle said.
“What do you think would have happened had he succeeded in getting you into his room?” Bianca asked. “What if Janelle wasn’t around?”
“I hate to say this, but he probably would have forced me,” Shukla said. “I didn’t see it as that then.”
“What did you see it as?” Bianca asked.
“I saw it as someone having a little flirtatious fun,” Shukla said. “It all happened so fast and it seemed so innocent.”
“Now, no one here is going to look down on you because Billy D, as he called himself, is solely responsible for initiating the incident. I need to say that because I’m going to ask this: how did you feel while all this was taking place? Did you feel a sort of giddiness? Did you feel, ‘hey, someone of the opposite sex is paying me some attention’? Did you feel some obligation to ‘play’ back? Exactly what was going through your mind?” Bianca asked.
“Well . . . I felt, to use your word, kind of giddy,” Shukla said. “To tell you the truth, as I shared with Janelle, my husband and I had an argument the night before and when we parted ways that morning we were not on good speaking terms, so this Billy D’s flirtation made me feel special, you know, wanted.”
“So it’s safe to say you were at a vulnerable point,” Bianca said.
“Yes, you could say that,” Shukla said. “But, mostly, I was just surprised.”