What at first was an uncomfortable encounter ended up being an uplifting situation. So, this 50 something guy came through my line at the local grocery store where i’m a cashier. He started hitting on me, fiercely. When older men hit on me, it’s not a compliment, it makes me feel unsafe and insecure. When guys hit on me in a disrespectful way, I feel like I’ve been knocked down a peg, reduced to my body and it’s not a great feeling. So the guy put the merchandise on the conveyor belt, looked me up and down and glanced at my name tag, glomming onto some topic to chat me up about.
“Julia. Ya know, the Beatles have a song about you.” And he proceeded to sing quietly to me under his breath and then said “That’s a nice song, don’t you think?”
I just tried being professional throughout his attempts to flirt with me and tried not to make much eye contact. The singing could have been kind of funny if it weren’t coming from someone who had me trapped at my workplace and from someone eyeing me sexually.
Luckily, the encounter was brief but as he turned to leave he gave me one more look up and down and said “Wow, you’re looking real nice in those hip-huggers.”
Just a little comment; enough to make me feel vulnerable and enough to jab at my comfort and security. First of all, hip huggers? The phrase definitely told his age, but it was also a way for him to comment on a part of my body.
And I’m sorry to say, I think I had the classic response which was to look away and say, “thanks” uncomfortably.
I tried to shrug it off like no big deal, but damn: It made me really uncomfortable. But what made the situation uplifting was when I was counting my till in the count-down room and mentioned it off handedly to my co-workers, who were immediately appalled.
“What?!” One of them said, a nice guy who’s expecting a baby with his wife. “You can report him you know.”
And then one of my managers over heard our conversation as he was walking out the door and took a step back and said “What happened?” When I told him, he took it very seriously and encouraged me to call a manager over next time so one of them can pull the guy aside and tell him that kind of behavior isn’t tolerated at the Good Food Store.
The fact that they were all taking it so seriously and that my manager was making sure to put his female-employee’s comfort at the top of the totem poll was very encouraging. I felt rejuvenated. Yeah! it did make me feel like shit, and people shouldn’t be permitted to objectify others and make them feel unsafe. Other grocery stores would probably be inclined to say something along the lines of, “Well forget about it, he’s a paying customer” and put the customers demeaning persona ahead of the well-intentioned workers. But, not where I work!
At first, my posture slumped after the encounter and I felt demeaned, but after talking to my co-workers and manager, I felt empowered and more secure in the place of my work, knowing that they have my back and won’t allow creepers to be creepin’. I don’t deserve such creepy disrespect and neither do other people.
What would you say to someone who was inappropriately hitting on you at work?