Harassment at Work

“Harassment” may not be exactly the right word for what I’m experiencing at work. It’s hard to articulate in a phrase exactly how uncomfortable I am.

When I got to work last night, I was told to call the assistant manager. Upon doing so, he informed me that a man called the store that afternoon who “doesn’t know me”, asking about my age and trying to get information about me. The manager declined to answer his questions, and told me that he suspected “romantic interest”. He just wanted me to be aware of the incident.

I have a suspicion about who called for me. About a week ago, a guy came in for coffee. Small talk ensued, I’m always polite at work. Before leaving the counter, he asked me for a pen and paper; I obliged. I caught a glance of what he’d written (it was his name and number) and immediately was super uncomfortable. He left the counter, went to the bathroom, and came back to give it to me.

“Have you ever been to Michigan?”
“Can’t say I have.”

He proceeded to tell me about his homeless shelter project and how he lost several hundred thousand dollars a few years before, but how he was going to make it back. That I should call him so he could “show me around”.

Men flirt with me at work all the time. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a look, or a “sweetie” or “Pretty” thrown into the conversation. Occasionally I’m even flattered. This was creepy.

Him giving me his number wasn’t a huge deal. It made me feel awkward and squeamish for a while, but I threw away the number and moved on. Whoever called for me, whether it’s this guy or not, has stepped over my comfort boundaries by a few miles.

I just don’t know what to do about this. I’m concerned about this guy coming in again, because I don’t know how to react. My goal is to calmly ask him to stop pursuing me, if this happens (which I really really really hope it doesn’t). What if he gets pissed off despite my politeness? What if he waits for me out in the parking lot? You never know what people might do.

Maybe I’m overreacting. It just seems wildly inappropriate to me to hit on someone at work in the first place. The most important thing about my job is customer service. I have no choice but to be polite, or at least delicate in my dismissal. I have no option to ignore the person. No matter how uncomfortable I am, I have to maintain the “Our Customers Are #1” standard.

So most of the time, I smile, nod vaguely, say thank you to a compliment, and move on with my life. What if that isn’t good enough? I’ve only been working at this gas station for a month; how often is someone going to be too interested?

If it’s inappropriate to hit on someone at work in the first place, how messed up is it to CALL a place of work to find out personal information from a third party? It’s just so stalkerish. I’m really concerned and all-around not-very-happy about the situation.

Oh, and they still haven’t gotten my schedule right for my four-day trip to Minneapolis. (Excited for this CON, despite crazy shit happening!)


2 thoughts on “Harassment at Work

  1. No matter whether you are at home, the store, on the street, or at work, unwelcome advances are still unwelcome advances. That's what this is–an unwelcome advance. This person more or less forced his number on you. I've seen this happening my whole life, and believe it or not, there is no wrong context for saying "No, thank you" to the person trying to give it to you. You do NOT have to accept it. By not accepting it, you aren't demonstrating poor customer service–this guy has already overstepped the boundaries of the job and has tried to delve into the personal. What you are doing is boldly and kindly saying to them that you are not interested. You aren't obligated to accept numbers, and this is something you'll need to learn very, very early on in your work life.What I am suggesting is undoubtedly a bit outside your comfort zone right now, but if you work at this, you'll find it to be an invaluable skill in many areas of your life. Eventually, you'll even be able to play with it…imagine, if you will, someone trying to hand you their number. Instead of accepting it, you stare them in the eyes as blankly as possible, maybe a little wide-eyed for dramatic effect. You don't say anything, you just stare. Maybe this person tries to say something, but you don't stop the stone gaze. They move away, but you keep gazing at them…don't turn your head, don't move your eyes…move your ENTIRE BODY to maintain the gaze. Think about it: this person is doing something that freaks you out. Is it really wrong to return that favor?


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