Thursday, July 13, 2017

It was Fitz. At First Baptist.

It was February, 2014, and I was in the ladies room at First Baptist Church of Laurel, MD. My sons were taking karate classes at the church and, as I often did, I drove them to class and took a scrapbooking project to work on while they had class for two hours.

I was having a great time and I was also drinking ice water. After a while, the ladies room beckoned and I went around the corner and entered the ladies room. While I was in the know.....I heard the main door to the ladies room open and close. I thought, of course, that another lady had come in to use the facilities.

Imagine my complete shock to open the partially-private stall door to find a man standing there looking at me with a smirk on his face! Immediately, I said, "Get out of here! This is a ladies room! Why didn't you knock to see if it was occupied?"

He said, "I don't knock. I ain't gonna knock. I got work to do."

I said, "Get out of here!"

He would not move. He was blocking the door; I could not get out. He stood his ground.

I said, "You can't just come in here at will and clean unless you know the room is empty!"

He said, "I do what I want. I got work to do. I ain't got time to do no knocking."

And he stood there, looking at me with a smirk on his face. I got bold. I walked over to him, passed within six inches of him in order to leave and did not take my eyes off him the entire time. He continued to smirk.

I was shaken. I was embarrassed. I was upset. I went to the security person on duty and told them what happened. That person didn't know what to do, so they called the building supervisor. I could hear her on his phone. When he told her what I had told him, she said, "Oh, that doesn't sound like Fitz."

So, Fitz was his name. I had not known that.

The security guard was flustered and didn't know what to do and I heard him tell the building supervisor, "She's right here...." as if to tell her I could hear their exchange. He hung up and shrugged at me. I told him I was going to call the senior pastor. He said the senior pastor was on the premises, in a deacon's meeting.

"Perfect," I said. His eyes widened in response. "Yes, please let him know I need to talk to him after his meeting."

Then I called my husband and told him what was going on. He was livid and was glad I was going to talk to the senior pastor.

When I told the senior pastor what happened, he was at first shocked and compassionate. Then, after assuring me their system of checking to make sure no one was in the ladies room would be revisited and they would stop this from happening again, he shook his head and said, "This just does not sound like Fitz!"

I was shocked he would say that to me. I looked at him and said, "But it was Fitz. He did this."

He replied, "I hear what you're saying, but it just does not sound like him."

And that's where he left it.

The church trustees met and put a protective practice in place. From now on, I was told, Fitz would have to have the security person with him, knock on the ladies room door, wait for an answer, slightly open the door, yell to see if anyone was in there.....and only if they were sure no one was inside they could proceed to enter and clean.

I observed this - they did it a total of one time.

After the one time they did it, I returned the next week to observe Fitz enter the ladies room with a small knock as he entered. He was back at it. I informed the security person and they said the trustees were handling the issue.

I did talk to a trustee. I was told, "Well, we discussed it and determined that it all happened so fast that no one really knows what happened."

I said, "I know what happened! I was there! No trustee discussed this with me so how was this determined without talking to the people involved?"

"Listen, we have all known Fitz a very long time and he's worked at the church for a long time."

And that was that. I stopped using the ladies room at First Baptist and we removed our membership. I still go to First Baptist's building from time to time as my sons still take karate there.....they are adults now and take themselves to and from.

I see Fitz from time to time when I'm there for tournaments or occasionally to meet a friend.....
and he smirks at me every time he sees me.

I fell into the trap.....I didn't voice this incident until now. I didn't voice it when church leadership minimized things and did not treat Fitz as the threat he is. Life got husband got cancer....we had to move several times....I dealt with it by leaving the church and warning a few other moms whose kids go to karate. But, I should have done this a lot sooner. Now that my husband no longer has cancer and we are settled into a home we bought, I've finally found the where-with-all in myself to tell this story and name names.

Beware of Fitz at First Baptist in Laurel. He is not a member. He is hired help who is working unsupervised many evenings throughout the week. I have never seen anyone supervise him. He saunters through the building, entering the various ladies rooms at will with no knocking, no warning and no apology when he happens upon someone using the facilities.


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