Reposting: Creepy Guy, V 2.0

This was another post I originally wrote on my I-Ate-Toast blog, back in the days when I was still working in Big Posh Department Store.  April 2007, to be precise, so nearly two years ago now. It doesn’t seem any less creepy now. So to all men looking for a relationship, I say this: don’t do what this guy did.

You know what’s creepy about this?
Aside from the fact that it’s at work.
And totally unwanted attention.
And he’s 14 years older than me.
And I don’t really know him.
And I don’t really like him.
And he’s slow and stupid and irritating.
And I know he’s being overly friendly to other women in the food halls as well.

The really, really creepy thing is, he’s my manager.

There are so many levels of wrongness there I’m not sure I know where to start. But hey, I’ll try!

So he joined a few weeks ago, maybe just over a month. I’m not quite sure about time anymore, it all tends to blur into one long day in the end. And, you know, we thought, ok, give him the benefit of the doubt, give him time to make his mistakes and all the rest of it, just be nice.
Rachel. Don’t be so sarcastic! Jackie. Stop being so damn northern and brusque! Fulvio. For God’s sake stop muttering Italian profanities! And stop saying what you want to do to that woman on the other side of the counter. The last one understood you perfectly and you’re lucky she laughed at you instead of complaining to your manager!
Anyway, you get the idea. Because it’s pretty bloody obvious if someone’s slow and irritating, even if you are going to give them a bit of time to settle in. But I tried. Honestly I did, I didn’t take the piss or try to take advantage of the fact he didn’t know what he was doing, because that isn’t fair and tends to make managers resent you once they’ve worked out what you’re doing. Despite the fact that he never even introduced himself to me. Something I really hate.

Even from day one, he spent more time talking to the women than the men.
Fair enough, we thought, maybe he feels less threatened by the women. (This isn’t necessarily a sexist thing, we had a female manager who seemed to feel threatened by anybody over 5’6″!)
Or maybe he just prefers the company of women, like I prefer the company of men. Who knows?
But it’s carried on. And really, if you’re a manager, you need to speak to everyone, even if it’s just a little bit. But I’m sure he doesn’t speak to some of the men at all.

More to the point, he is always talking to the women. And not even just the ones that he manages, but others too, women that just happen to be in the office, like the one from Tea&Coffee who’s always in and out. And not just chatting, either. Asking people to have lunch with him, have their breaks with him…. stuff. Thing is, you can’t really get him for that, but it’s just not the done thing. If you’ve worked with those people, fair enough. If you happen to be passing, fair enough. But you don’t make an arrangement. It just doesn’t work. And it isn’t quite right.
He tried that with me. Bloody idiot.
Him — “Will you take your lunch with me?”
Me (impatiently) — “Are you on your lunch now?” [I was about to take my lunch break at the time and wanted to get away from the counter before anybody tried to get me to serve them]
Him (slowly) — “… No.”
Me (incredulous at such stupidity) — “Then no. I’m going now.” (To the counter monkeys in general) “I’ll be back in an hour” (under my breath) *incoherent grumbles*

But like I say, irritating though it is, you can’t really say anything about that.

On the other hand…….

5:30ish pm. The counter is quiet. Vince (fellow counter monkey) and I are standing talking and trying to look like we’re discussing work.
Manager walks over.
Him — “Rachel.”
Me — “Yes.”
Him — “So, we’re going to see a movie tonight.”
Me — “No. I’m going home. To bed. To sleep.”

There followed a few comments about the lateness of the hour, the lateness of the shift, the time a “movie” would most likely finish… all from him. I stayed mostly silent and can’t remember it word for word. I must have reiterated the fact that I was going to go home and sleep, because the next comment I remember was

Him (to Vince) — “Ah, she’d prefer her bed to my company”
Me (very, very sarcastically) — “Hmmm, my bed, you…. tough call….” (flatly, cruelly and accurately) “Bed wins”
Vince (to me, teasing, half-joking) — “you could at least say “no, not tonight”… or “no, I’ve made plans”… it might be nicer”
Me (mainly to Vince, unconcernedly) — “yes, but it would be less accurate… excuse me…”

At this point, probably luckily for me, I was able to walk away and serve a customer.
After serving her, I found that I was still so angry about the incident, small as it might seem, that I wasn’t in a fit state to serve anybody. Cue me walking off the counter to the till. Explaining to Fulvio that the manager has made me so angry I really need to just sit quietly, and would he mind serving. Of course not, because he gets very very bored on the tills, and thinks that I am doing him a favour.
So I sit, and I scan food and I pack it into carrier bags and I give people their change and I translate into tourist French or Spanish or American (yes, some Americans need things translating… like “lift”) and in the lull where I’m not serving anyone, I work out that the main reasons that I’m upset are:

He is my manager. What a bloody cliche, apart from anything else. At least I’m not a secretary, I suppose. There are many other reasons why that’s bad, but I think they’re fairly obvious.
He did it in front of Vince. To be honest, I found that embarrassing. And I felt that I couldn’t challenge him on it. Because (aren’t I nice?!) I reckon if you’re going to say something that could make somebody feel awkward, you ought to do it in a way that means they don’t have to display that awkwardness to other people.

Of course, the other thing is, I like to keep my professional life and my private life separate. That’s why my private life is, well, private! And because of the way he made me feel, all I wanted was to hide in J’s shoulder and wait for the world to disappear. And I was at work. And so I felt terrible, because I couldn’t.

Anyway, after an hour and a half on tills, I was back on the counter and feeling slightly less homicidal. Slightly. Enough so that when I was next able to speak to my manager alone, after some work-related exchange of information – who would be closing which counter and so on….

Me — “…… And…. Please don’t do that again.”
Him (confused) — “Talk to you about the pies?”
Me — “No. Don’t ask me out again.”
Him — “…….”
Me — “It made me very uncomfortable. Especially in front of Vince. Don’t do it.”
Him — “It was only a joke…. that’s why it was in front of Vince…”
Me — “Well I didn’t like it. Even if it was a joke.”
Him (as though lecturing me!) — “Yes. You do need to be careful because sometimes what you think of as a joke other people don’t take it that way….”
Me (interrupting) — “Right. And I didn’t like it. And I’m telling you now so that it doesn’t happen again. I don’t want this to be a problem.”
Him — “…. ok…..”
Me. “Good. Thank you.”

And I ended the conversation again, by walking off and serving.

But I’m still uncomfortable. The thing is, if it was only me, as a one off, I’d have left it there, no question. Because you’d have to be really, really stupid to try that with me more than once. Especially after the reactions I gave. Which weren’t exactly kind or polite.
But because there may be other women, nicer than me, who he does it to, I’m still worried. ‘Tis difficult. I only wanted to do my job. Grrrrrrr.

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