So I had an interesting but unfortunately common experience recently with a man…
It was about 1 in the afternoon and had just arrived to my job. I pulled into a parking spot on the second floor of the parking garage. As I opened my trunk to grab my computer bag I noticed a man walking in my direction (he seemed to be headed to the elevator). He glanced at me and gave me no indication he would attempt to say anything to me. However, in that awkward moment when you see someone walking towards you with no place to look except at each other or off into space I acknowledged him with my usual “hey, how you doing?”.
Just the typical greeting I learned in childhood from watching my parents and other adults….nothing more. Like any other time (and much like I’m sure my parents and other adults in my childhood) I had no intentions of engaging in an actual conversation. I was just being kind and making the situation less awkward.
He returned the greeting and I thought that would be the end of it. I could go about my day and he…his. He proceeded to ask if I worked in the building and I stated that I did. We both made our way to the stairs, down the stairs and into the office building.
I know what you are thinking…No the stairs are not next to the elevator. Yes he was originally headed towards the elevator but changed his mind…I guess…I don’t know.
He asked a few other questions that let me know he was lost so I asked who he was there to see and informed him to try the 3rd floor. AGAIN…just being nice.
It could’ve ended there. I would go about my day and he…his. But noooooo…This is how the conversation progressed:
Him: (flirtatious surprised tone) How do you know?
Me: (serious tone) I…work…here ???? (I mean seriously…we JUST went over this!)
Him: Is that where you are going? I want to follow you.
Me: (annoyed) What are you here for?
Him: A job fair
Me: Oh that’s here on the 1st floor (walking towards the room he needs)
Let’s be real I was happy glad this man was not going to the same floor as me
Him: (following) Are you always this helpful?
Me: I try to be
Him: Oh so it isn’t because of me?
Me: Nope I’m just generally a nice individual. This is the room, let them know you are here for the job fair. Have a good day.
Him: Thank you. I’ll come upstairs in a minute.
Me: (shaking my head and rolling my eyes as I walk away)
And y’all know that wasn’t the end of it…
Fast forward to 8pm… As I was walking to my car to leave work I noticed a small paper on my driver side window. When I approached my car, I realized it was a note written on a business card. I scanned my surroundings to make sure no one was around then grabbed the card and got in my car. It was an invitation to contact him.
Look…I know that as a woman I will get hit on. I can handle that however there’s shooting your shot and there’s harassment. How many times do I have to deny you before you get the message? Once I realized I was being hit on I dialed back the kindness. My nonverbals were clear. My tone was calculated, blunt and uninviting. I even shut down invitations and was unresponsive to his flirting. Yet and still…He proceeded to invite himself up to my office (I have no idea if he actually attempted to come upstairs to try to find me…there’s a bunch of offices so it is likely he tried and failed. That’s probably best for him because let me find out this man tried to come up to my office to find me…????SECURITY!) and took the time and energy to leave me a note on my car.
I left the conversation feeling annoyed but also frustrated at the fact that a kind gesture turned into something creepy that made me feel icky. And at the end of the day when I read the note on my car, I experienced fear, hyper-vigilance and racing thoughts. I was nervous that this man might be lurking somewhere near, watching. Experiences like this make it really difficult for me to be nice to men when I’m out in public especially when I’m alone but the flip side of this: not greeting a man, not answering when he speaks, not smiling, failing to be helpful or blatantly telling him off would still result in harassment because…masculinity.
MY MANNERS ARE NOT AN INVITATION TO YOUR HARASSMENT!
In Perfect Love,