This is a bit of a weird one, but I can't get rid of my feelings of guilt here, even though I'm terribly angry.
I'm 3 years into my job as a receptionist in a small hotel and I very rarely have a problem with my job. However, working so many Saturday nights, I became familiar with a man who collects in our bar and night-club for a children's charity as he likes to sit in the reception area before he does his collections.
I started to notice that this man was a little off - I'm not sure if he has some sort of mental handicap because he's a little slow and very odd, but I'm always polite and good-natured to him. He would come in and chat for about half an hour about his week and then I would leave my shift.
He started collecting more frequently so I'd see him nearly every saturday night, and his visits would extend by the hour, so he would be sitting and talking to me for well over an hour and a half. After some time his conversations started to become more personal - he would tell me about his family life and people he knew and his troubles and so on, and I was far too polite to steer the conversation elsewhere.
This man is in his mid-to-late 40s and I am only in my 20s. I know he suffers from epilepsy from what he has told me and lives alone, because he finds it difficult to talk to people.
Slowly his conversation would get seedier - not in regards to me, thankfully - as he would recount some of the more raunchy goings-on in the nightclub in the hotel, such as a man licking a woman's back in the club, or about some women in scantily clad outfits. By then I asked him politely to keep that sort of information to himself, since it was a little too risque for polite company.
It was after that particular incident that I started to feel a little uncomfortable. I approached one of my managers about it but I was brushed off, since the man had been collecting in our club and bar for upwards of 7 years. He continued to come in and lament to me his problems and I would leave work feeling guilt for distrusting him, and at the same time a little angry, because I was essentially his free councellor.
I tried to ask him in a polite manner to stop, tried to make it seem like I was very busy on my shift so he wouldn't talk to me, but he jumped at every free second to hold a conversation. Then on Christmas I found he left a gift for me - 2 heart-shaped Waterford Crystal candle-holders.
It was then I made a formal complaint to my general manager that I was being groomed by this man I wanted him to desist sitting in the reception while I was on my shift. I handed the gift back to the man and told him it was inappropriate for him to single me out and give me gifts instead of treating me like all the other staff in the hotel.
He asked me if we could still be friends - I told him we were never friends to begin with, that I just work here.
My complaint went unheeded to my managers and when I approached my boss I was told that this man who collects for charity is a bit "special" and has been coming here for years and I have to be paitent with him. I asked could I be taken off the night shift on saturdays so I wouldn't have to be around him but was told no, because the other receptionists would kick up a fuss if they had to work saturday nights.
Since then our shifts have been rotated, so I do not have to work every saturday night which is the best I could have hoped for, but I'm still very, very angry that my complaints went ignored and that this man has been harrassing me and saying inappropriate things.
I understand that he is a little strange but I am not being paid to sit and endure his company, and his presence makes me very uncomfortable. However, I also feel guilty because I feel like I have been overreacting and that he is harmless and I should not feel threatened.
I'm not too sure what to do in this situation, especially since the second year in a row he has bought me another gift (I threw it in the bin without even looking at it) even though we do not speak anymore. He continues to sit in reception and I ignore him, and yet he is still buying me gifts and trying to talk to me.
I have, to date, made 7 formal complaints about this man and all of them have gone ignored. Should I just drop the subject and endure? Am I just being silly and taking his innocent gift giving as a sexual advance? I'm not sure how to approach this without losing my job in the process or potentially losing this man his job.
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293
I'm sorry to hear that you've felt ignored and unsupported by your management.
Since this man is no longer speaking to you and telling you stories you find distressing, I'm wondering if you could say a little more about what it is that is making you feel anxious about him right now? I hear in your words that you feel threatened but I'm not sure what specifically you feel threatened by so if you could say more about that it would be helpful.
-------------------- Robin Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011
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I guess that's what has me feeling guilty - he doesn't talk much to me anymore other than a "hello" and "how are you" type of thing, because I give short, one word answers and busy myself so he won't continue the conversation.
Like I said though, he sits in the reception area for at least an hour and a half before my shift ends and I have to interact with a lot of customers, and he watches me and tries to catch my eye. I pointedly ignore him, but if I do make eye-contact he tries to talk to me and I just make it that I'm very busy and don't have the time. I don't want to keep talking because he can get very personal and at times, very inappropriate, and I don't want him to continue thinking that we are "friends".
Posts: 15 | From: Ireland | Registered: Sep 2012
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