(Men, if you read this and it sounds like you, please get help.)
…also, sorry this is a little long. I have to tell the whole story to explain how innocuous it looks…but ISN’T.
Ladies, if a man – housekeeping, maintenance, or anyone – walks in on you in a public restroom, COMPLAIN TO THE MANAGEMENT. Has it ever happened to you? Did you make excuses?
“Maybe I just didn’t hear him knock.”
“It was an honest mistake.”
“He was so apologetic – he was more embarrassed than I was!”
…or maybe you were daring enough to think:
“If he gets his jollies that way, what do I care? I’m not going to see him again.”
No. Don’t make excuses. There is no excuse. What planet does this guy have to be from to think it’s okay to just waltz in, even if it’s to clean?
|(I'm guessing, outside this solar system.)|
I’ve mentioned the office creeper before in passing. All of the ladies who work in this building have addressed with him, separately, the “knock and announce yourself” idea. It's not rocket science - seems kind of obvious, right? I guess we all gave him the benefit of the doubt - maybe he just didn’t know. Ri-i-i-ight…to the tune of being instructed a half-dozen times?
We don’t just call him a creeper for the bathroom thing. He hangs out in office doorways, as if waiting for a break in conversation. Then when he’s acknowledged, he has nothing to say worth standing around waiting for.
“Oh…uh, there’s coffee upstairs.” Well thanks, but you don’t need to hover in the doorway to tell us.
“Umm…Oh! I couldn’t remember if I said good morning.” Really? You made a special trip to my office for that?
“Oh…hey, nice sweater!” You hover in my doorway for five minutes for that? Creeper!
But, Red you say, he’s just being a sweet guy. Yeah. We gave him the benefit of the doubt for months. I even posited the theory that he’s trying to be “one of the girls” and just doesn’t know how, poor thing.
No, no…NO! He’s creeped us all out with his hovering and the fact that we never hear him coming. (Seriously, does he have felt-soled shoes or what?) Trust your instincts, ladies! If he’s creepy, he’s creepy, not “misunderstood”! This whole thing may sound like I'm hyper-sensitive, but trust me, we all feel the same way about this guy. It's not just me.
Since I originally wrote the above portion, in an unrelated conversation with my internet fiancé Brett, he mentioned that before I accidentally emailed him (yes, accidentally) he had been wondering what more he could do to reach me, without seeming like a stalker. Because he’d apparently gleaned from my earlier writings that I’ve had my run-ins!
So here’s the thing, guys: If you’re concerned that you might be mis-perceived as a stalker, you probably are safely within the bounds of normal behavior. I have never known anyone who’s crossed the line to even remotely think that they were crossing a line!
A red flag that frankly creeped me out too much to mention to anyone flew in my face early this winter.
The Ladies’ room and the kitchen are a short U-turn apart (side by side, but one doorway is set back a couple feet). One day I was leaving the Ladies’, to go into the kitchen. I had heard the stairwell door (also nearby) click shut before I exited the restroom. As the restroom door clicked shut behind me, I heard the stairwell re-open, and just as I turned into the kitchen, I caught a reflection in the glass conference-room door across from the stairwell.
The Creeper had heard the restroom door and was peering out of the stairwell to see who it was!! Who does that? No normal man. A sick, demented, pervert. That’s who.
I had seen and ignored the reflection, thinking he was merely curious and would continue his descent. Silly Red! I was in the kitchen with my back to the door, getting something from the fridge and suddenly heard him saying something right behind me. Another, innocuous, unnecessary thing like pointing out the pot of coffee. Why? Why, Creeper, why do you follow me out of the restroom to try to engage me in inane conversation?
The final straw…
Every year I participate in a Polar Bear Plunge. The plunge I do benefits Special Olympics, and I always try to raise support online, from coworkers, by emailing family, etc. I had the sign-up list on my desk at work, and one day the Creeper came in and signed up. Yea for him…and this was before things had gotten really bad, although I don’t remember where the kitchen incident fell in the timeline. As he added his pledge to the list he said, “If there are any pictures of the plunge, I want one,” and I didn’t think anything of it. The Plunge is a madhouse with upwards of 2,000 people crowded onto the beach. (3,600 this year)
Later, because there are several Plunges in the area and nobody can remember which one is mine, he came in and asked if the recent one was the one I did, and I said no, and he reminded me that he wanted of picture “of me at the plunge”. As he left my office I wondered if he realized he was essentially asking for a picture of me in a bathing suit.
After that I started paying more attention to his whereabouts, and avoided using the upstairs restroom if he was up there. After mentioning about the photo request to a coworker, I decided that it bothered me enough that, if he mentioned it again, I would complain to his superior. If not, he probably hadn’t realized what he was saying.
~~I want to add that when non-creepers have asked, jokingly, about photo-evidence that I actually did it,
I laugh and think nothing of it. His behavior predicated my response.~~
The Plunge came and went. The day he came in to ask if I had a picture, I called him out,
Me: “You do realize you’re basically asking for a picture of me in my bathing suit?”
Him: …(mouth hanging open)
Me: “And that it’s inappropriate?”
Him: “Oh, no-no-no. I just meant, like, a… group shot or something.”
Me: “Well no. They take a big group shot of everyone and post it on the Plunge webpage.” (...and I never even bother to stand in the area they photograph. That’s a rookie thing.)
A little later, true to myself, I went up and talked to his boss. She was not surprised, and apparently had delegated to someone else to have a “conversation” with him, but it had not happened yet. Anyway, I did what I could.
The “conversation” was about protocol for cleaning the restroom of the opposite sex. He had no idea there was a reprimand included in it.
During the days that all this “disciplinary action” was going down, I heard one of the guys who works in the field come in and allude to “my stalker”. I wondered who and he named the Creeper. I was internally freaking out a bit, but said something like “No. He’s that way with all of us. He’s just a creeper.”
Well, turns out this Creeper/stalker/scumbag is so bad that the stuff he says about women creeps out the guys in the field and the guys who work maintenance. Guys being guys and not having to watch themselves on behalf of any ladies present. Now, I work with an awesome bunch of men. It’s like having 95 uncles getting your back at any given moment. So I know if he’s saying stuff about me, they would set him straight.
But here’s why this is a must read for all women:
It’s NOT just me. It’s NOT just the office. He BRAGS about walking in on women in the bathrooms. And I’m at the beach. Part of his jurisdiction includes a bathhouse…with showers! So ladies, for the Love of God, if a man walks in on you in a public restroom, complain to the management! Best to do it in written form, so they have something they can put in his file. We still can’t get rid of this disgusting excuse for a man!
I hope this doesn't sound like a bitter-woman diatribe, but I really think a lot of women don't realize they are being spied on when things like this happen.
UPDATE: Wow. Talk about timely. Just this morning one of the law enforcement guys was in talking to my officemate about how the investigation is coming along. They are making progress. I look forward to the day that, while out in the midwest somewhere, I hear from my coworkers that he's gone.