I began working at a technological company just over a month ago. It was sudden and totally unexpected – I had failed 5 job interviews before this one. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the relaxed office culture and the really nice individuals who populate the little rectangular room we call our workplace…all except for one.
In order to preserve his dignity, I shan’t name him. All I can tell you is that he’s a fellow intern. However, while my responsibilities lie in content-creation and marketing, he’s part of the engineering team. I really don’t know how it works elsewhere, but here, engineering is still pretty much a male-dominated field of study. Furthermore, many men here still unfortunately believe that women are avenues of male sexual pleasure. This is just one factor that contributes to my general discomfort around this particular coworker.
This guy, let’s just call him Mr. Creep to make things easier, really just gives me the heebie jeebies. In all honesty, it began on the very first day. His smiling gaze lingered for just a second too long when he shook my hand, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, I’m a very awkward person, and it could be me interpreting things wrongly, right?
Wrong. He began going out of his way just to have a – let me make this clear – one-sided conversation with me. The first thing he asked me how I did for my exams. Turns out we’re from the same university. Feeling slightly invaded, I gave him a non-committal shrug and said, “It was okay.”He then proceeded to tell me how he, on the other hand, did quite badly. He’s been visiting my seat when the coworker beside me leaves to discuss some issues with some other colleagues, telling me, “I’m bored.” Well, what do you want me to do? Sing a song for you? I’ve had other coworkers coming to say that, but they don’t give me the vibe he’s giving me. It feels as if he wants something from me – attention or otherwise – and even his shadow is enough to make me shudder.
It doesn’t sound quite so horrible until you factor in the touch. I can’t pinpoint when it began, but he started giving me shoulder pats. Before I acknowledged the heebie jeebies, I tried to have functional workplace conversations with this guy. Yeah, I have quite a lot of work to do, because we’re having a product launch next week. Instead of backing off, he puts his hand on my shoulder and says “Good luck with that.” Whoa. He sees me waiting for some other coworkers outside the office during lunch, he puts his hand on my shoulder, looks me in the eye, and says “Hi.” Whoa. Everyday before he leaves, he walks over to my seat, puts his hand on my shoulder until I turn around and acknowledge his presence (which I usually do with a flinch) before saying “Bye.” Whoa. I’m gonna sound like a prude here, but that’s just not acceptable in my world.
This has been keeping up for, let me see…5 weeks. It’s just not serious enough to warrant a complaint. He didn’t touch me in any inappropriate places, but the shoulder pats, and more recently, arm pats, are enough to make me dread going to the office.
I know some people are being friendly through touch, and I’ve been receptive to shoulder rubs by my super nice manager at the diner I work in, but Mr. Creep doesn’t touch anyone else. It’s only me. It freaks the shit out of me. I even thought I saw him snap a picture of me with his phone out of the corner of my eye, but couldn’t confront him because I didn’t hear a click.
It’s come to the point that I’m ready to confront him the next time he puts his hand anywhere near any part of my body. I’m just wondering if it’s appropriate to do so. I really need some help here! Have you met another version of Mr. Creep at your workplace? How did you deal with this? Or what would you suggest I do?