Since graduating from uni, I have inevitably had to search for a part time job, as like 99.9% of people in my situation, I have come out of uni even more clueless and under prepared for my future and lacking career ideas more so than I was when I went in.
Luckily, I found a job in a local supermarket (after mindlessly applying for anything that sounded remotely good, as long as it was in 5 miles of me), and after many confused “you have a degree, why are you here?!”‘s, I soon fitted right in and you will not believe me, but actually liked the job! (I know, who says that!)
Now, my shift pattern (here, newbie: have all the evening shifts that no one else wants!), and part of the shop I work in means I often work alone, something I didn’t mind and actually had become quite accustomed to (I like doing things exactly how I want to and although having a colleague is nice, sometimes they just get in the way ya know). It also means I
get to have to talk to all of the customers that come into the area and ask for help/service on the counter.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do love talking to some customers, ones that are cheerful and polite, and ones that look like their day needs brightening: I really get a buzz from it. Unfortunately however there is one particular kind of customer that I absolutely hate talking to (and unfortunately I think a lot of gals can relate: SO WRONG).
I am talking about the sleazy male. You know, the one that probably cat calls or beeps his horn at women he passes. The one that of course is an ‘absolute lad’ and has self confessed ‘top banter’. And of course any one with a vagina is universally known as ‘love’ by him. (Side note, only call a stranger ‘love’ if your aim is to make their skin crawl: it has a 100% success rate).
Anyway, I have a few regular customers that are variations of this species. When I first started my job, a female colleague had told me stories of how these men had
tried it on with her creeped her out, and warned me it might happen to me, but as a lot of women may know, even if you think you are ready for this situation, when it happens it still puts you on edge.
The worst of my customers like this started off as a friendly guy, but like a lot of (not all) guys of this variety, quickly moved on from being friendly to very much overly friendly. I don’t know if he mistook my generic customer friendliness for me really liking him specifically, or whether he is just so desperate that he tries it on with anything with boobs. I said goodbye to him after his second or third visit thinking nothing of it, but when he returned for a fourth visit I was on edge.
He had clearly told his friend about me as he was talking about me to him on the phone, and then put his friend on speaker as he was saying something about me (it was probably SOOO BANTEROUS AND HILAR (demeaning and sexist) but unfortunately (luckily) I didn’t hear), then went on tell his friend that no, he didn’t know my age, but his friend should know that he loves women with my hair colour and what he would do to a woman with it. Seeing as they are quite clearly talking about me I pipe with ‘I’m 21.’ in the most deadpan voice with an undertone of ‘you are clearly about twenty years older than me, please see how creepy you are being and realise I am too young’ which he clearly didn’t receive as he went ‘ohhhhh she’s legal!’. SHE’S LEGAL? SHE’S FUCKING LEGAL?! NO, NOPE, DO NOT. At this point, if I wasn’t already on edge enough as it was, this really pushed me over the fucking edge and off the cliff, into the sea of my own sick that he had just made me feel.
Not realising his behaviour was not okay, he then proceeded to tell me that he has everything he needs now, but still no number or date, before leaving, and leaving me in utter disbelief at him.
I have not had the fortune of encountering him since this incident, but believe me I am literally so scared every time I start a shift in case I encounter him (even if my friend gave me the best comeback to the date line if he asks again- dates can be found near the fruit and veg, probably next to the prunes- but will I have the balls to use it? Probably not.)
Why has society created such an atmosphere where some men think it is okay to objectify women, even at their place of work, to an extent I feel all I can do is give a polite laugh rather than stick up for myself due to fear? This is a place I have to be, I’m just trying to earn some money, I can’t escape.
I shouldn’t feel scared to go to work in case I encounter this man, but until he realises it isn’t okay to behave like this, I will.
I could talk about this topic for so long but a lot of my anger makes me incapable of articulating my thoughts, so I will leave it here, but something really needs to change.
(I know not all men are like this and this is just one personal experience and opinion but other women also experience similar things on a daily basis).