We arrived in Miami in the spring of '97. I had secured a job beforehand working as an agent for a cargo airline at MIA.
When we went to meet my new boss, my wife found him to be very engaging. Her first aside to me was "I'll bet you he throws some wild Christmas parties!" As it turned out, he was a little too engaging.
His name was Pedro. An imposing man at 6'4", 325 pounds. He was well overweight. More than anything though, what stood out about him was his boisterous voice. Pedro usually spoke like he wanted the entire building to hear what he was saying.
"What the fuck, Mr Child?" he would say to me. "How does a man of your education and stamina stay so fucking thin?"
Most of what he said failed to make sense. He piled on words in no particular order and he tried to get his meaning across by sheer volume. Rarely did he let you speak, unless he thought you were going to agree with him. If not, he would continue with his barrage:"I used to be skinny bro, when I was a teenager, but as I got older, I was doing a lot more fucking, and a lot more exercise...I really don't eat much, I just have a lot of ulcers and shit, and I retain a lot of water, but I still fuck like a monkey, you know?" At this point I would just start to nod in agreement, hoping he would shut up. "Gimme a smoke, nigga'!" he would say out of nowhere, slapping me on the back.
Pedro harassed everybody, incessantly. The women were always feeling disrespected, and the men were usually feeling insulted. He didn't alter his language or demeanor for the sake of anybody, which made him into somewhat of a cluster bomb, hitting everything around him. An equal opportunity offender, some would say.
Some of the girls, particularly his poor secretary, would take so much shit from him (since he was the boss people rarely snapped back at him - those who did were quickly showed the nearest exit) that they would eventually blow up on one of the other employees over the smallest details. When things got out of hand, Pedro would call up a staff meeting to try and figure out what was going on. Then everybody would point their fingers at eachother, they would air out their grievances, and nobody would say anything about him. He always started those meetings with "I want you guys to help me get to the bottom of this...we don't want anybody showing the ladies any disrespect...it's important that everybody treats the others with integrity and good manners, without offending their sensibilities and clean upbringing...if anybody knows of anything I should know about you can tell me, now or later when we're alone, and I'll get rid of the bastard," or some nonsense like that.
He would call the Import counter where I worked, and while on speakerphone would ask: "Where's shit-for-brains?" referring to the guy who sat next to me.
With the attractive ladies in the office, he would invariably greet them by looking them up and down, licking his chops, while saying something like "Hmmmm, you look good enough to eat, Ms Smith."
How, you must be asking yourself by now, does somebody in America get away with that? Certainly it must have been raining lawsuits on that company!
Well, here's what it boils down to: this is Miami. Every employee came from a Latin American country. This kind of abuse is customary down there. Oh, not to this extreme perhaps, but it's the established general order of things. Nobody questions it, everyone expects it. The women grin and bear it, and the men swallow their pride. You hope either he or you will move on eventually.
I moved up as far as I could, then accepted a job offer from a customer. I thanked Pedro for all he'd done for me. I left four years ago and haven't spoken with him since. I sincerely hope I never have to.
6 years ago