He told me I was beautiful almost every single day.
He told me my eyes were stunning, and that I shouldn’t wear makeup because I was more beautiful without it.
He told me my body was amazing, and that I didn’t need to change a thing about it.
One day, he walked over to wear I was sitting and placed a necklace on the table for me. He gave me a gift for no reason at all.
The thing is, this isn’t a love story about my fiancé.
This is an uncomfortable story about a man 30 years my senior who worked in the same space as me and made me uneasy at work for 3 months straight.
This is the story of a man who wouldn’t listen to me when I directly told him he was being inappropriate,
who wouldn’t stop talking to me when I told him no,
who approached me when I tried to create distance.
This is the story of a man who told me he wanted to put me in his van and take me to dinner.
Who, when I told him that that wasn’t okay to say to someone, said that I was the one who was in the wrong because I was assuming things about him,
I was misunderstanding things,
I was creating something out of nothing.
This didn’t happen when I was 16 and didn’t know how to speak up for myself.
This happened last summer, when I was 31.
When I was actually in a very confident stage in my life and did speak up for myself.
But my words were not taken seriously by him.
I felt anxious about going to work.
But I also desperately needed this job because without it, I had no income.
So I couldn’t quit.
And I didn’t want to make a big deal out of nothing.
I feared if I said something, my company wouldn’t have a place for me to work.
He had not actually done anything.
Ya know? He just said creepy things, but he had never actually done anything to me.
But his presence and his words made me uncomfortable every day.
For 3 months.
I feared saying something because I didn’t want him to lose his job.
I didn’t want to cause a big fuss.
I just wanted to show up, get my work done, leave, and move on with my life.
I did nothing to provoke his behavior. People always want to say that, right?
My clothing, although it shouldn’t matter, was usually an A-line dress down to my knees and a cardigan sweater buttoned to my neck.
I was a friendly person because that’s who I am. I am friendly. I like to engage in conversation with the people around me. I like to make community wherever I go.
I was not flirtatious.
Being friendly and being flirtatious are not the same.
And I told him to stop all the time.
No, literally, when he was talking, I said the word STOP.
Like over and over again.
I told him he was being inappropriate. A man 30 years older than me. I told him to stop saying things to me.
I started to avoid him, but he would approach me.
We were not officially co-workers. We did not work for the same company. But we worked in the same open space. He did not have a boss. He ran his own business in the space.
I had a boss. A male boss. Paul told me to tell my boss. I told my boss, but I pleaded for no fuss about the situation.
My boss did the right thing.
My male boss.
He told me that even if I didn’t want to make a fuss about this for me, I had to think about other women. Other women who currently work in the building with this man and are not speaking up for themselves. Other women who may work in this building in the future.
He documented the long list of inappropriate incidences, he alerted the building management company about this man’s actions, and he placed me in a different location.
I don’t know what happened, if the man still continued to work in this space or not.
I never went back to this location.