I forgot to mention this in my blog post but last week I encountered yet another creeper at work. This is the second time this has happened, the first incident happened last year. I didn't give any details of that encounter because I didn't want to be reminded of it, but in retrospect, it's not something I could forget anyway and I'm proud of myself for putting an end to it. Let me briefly fill you in.
Last year there was a middle aged man whom worked at the factory for quite a number of years. I often saw him in the hallways just like any other worker. After 2 years of working there, he suddenly notices me after a coworker I'm with talks to him as I politely smile along to be friendly. After that encounter, I started noticing him everywhere- he's there holding the door to greet me when I come to work, he's there during my breaks, and he's there in the hallway when I pass by. And it wasn't only his presence that was creepy, it was the fact that he tried to slyly look at me during my breaks and in the hallway. It was creepy as f*ck. I stopped greeting him and tried to ignore him shortly after this all happened. It ended up lasting a few weeks. I felt miserable at work and tried to avoid him at all costs. Some nights I even cried because his male gaze made me feel like he was stripping me with his eyes. I hated it so much. I felt violated, vulnerable, and objectified.
And so, during one of my lunch breaks, I had enough of his staring. I finally called him out on it, "What you are looking at?!" Which leads him to totally freak out on me. He starts swearing, threatening me (should have totally went to my supervisor when that happened), saying how I could accuse him of such a thing, even says to his friend out loud about how crazy I am to think he could be staring at me. But you know what? I could tell by the way he reacted that he felt completely humiliated. Good. Because for weeks on end he made me feel like complete and utter sh*t. After that episode, I only saw him once more in the hallway pretending to text on his phone when he was really just being a creeper. He then finally left me alone and eventually left the factory some time later.
Now back to my latest encounter with creeper #2. Actually, I once was friends with a creeper who I didn't know was a creeper, but for simplicity sake, we'll exclude him from the creeper numbering system lol. Creeper #2 was a new worker in the sanitation department. I work near the entrance of the production area and notice him constantly glancing at me every time he passes by. Okay... no big deal, you can't control people's actions anyway. But then... I see him sitting not too far from me while I'm on my first break staring at me... big mistake. I literally make the biggest effort to show him that I'm not interested and to stop looking at me. I take my bag and loudly place it on the table to make a barricade between me and him and I move my body and face the other way. Come my lunch break, I see him again but this time far away but still staring like before. And it's a disturbing stare because he wasn't even trying to be discreet about it. When I look at him his eyes don't even glance away... he was literally just rudely staring.
I start thinking back at how this is like deja vu all over again. Shortly after he leaves, my break is over so I go inside. Again! Staring at me as I come in the entrance. I wash my hands as I contemplate confronting him. I decide I've had enough as I'm not going through this bullsh*t again. I go straight up to him and say with attitude, "Do you have a staring problem?!" He doesn't make eye contact and doesn't say anything so I say it again. After he replies with no, I then say, "Then stop looking at me!" Bam. From then on he stopped looking at me. And just like creeper #1, he left the factory shortly after.
I just had enough of being afraid of what would happen if I did something. All of my life I've been told to just "ignore" it, that somehow ignoring the problem would miraculously make it go away. I'm sick of not standing up for myself when need be. Even with the incident with creeper #1, I was told to just ignore him. Well guess what? I tried ignoring him for weeks and nothing changed! The only reason it changed was because I did something about it, and I'm damn proud of myself for it.
You just have to have a sense of when it's safe to call someone out on something, because the last thing you want to do is deal with the real crazies... those who would come after you kind of thing. There's a time and place when ignoring is best, but then there's also a time and place to stand up for yourself.
"A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on it’s own wings. Always believe in yourself." -Unknown