Today’s post comes from Angela, who blogs over at The Clutter Box. (I LOVE that blog title, BTW). She recently had an uncomfortable experience with her job, which is why she’s writing about it for me. Women are often punished for writing honestly about our personal experiences, especially if they happen in the workplace.
In my job, I deal with students. Most are great, some are not. I absolutely hate parts of my job. I am not a sales person. I am, however, great at networking, customer service, and events. When you succeed with those three things, sales eventually come, but now I’m veering off topic!
I deal with a special group of students. For this particular group of students, I am one of the first women they deal with when they come to school. I give them everything. I explain how things work and what to do when. I am a contact for any needs, and I feed them. This has been a great relationship-building thing, it has done wonders for my numbers and my end goal, but it is also creating a bigger issue.
I am constantly surrounded by this group. They are everywhere and no matter where I go, they always find me. At the end of the day, I usually walk with my co-workers to a point, but then we split off to go our different directions home. At that point I am usually surrounded, and they walk with me as far as I will let them. They come into the branch individually taking their turns greeting me in my office. They will huddle in the ATM room waiting for us to leave after closing, to greet us then walk me out. They are super friendly and have always responded to my requests of leaving me at certain places or not following me further.
Then Valentine’s Day happened. One particular gentleman came into my office--not unusual, as he was usually in once or twice a week. Except this time he hung around waiting for my clients to leave and when they took longer than he had anticipated, he came back later. He also asked to speak to me privately. I was semi smart about this. I didn't close my door, and I made sure that my one co-worker was aware of what was happening and watching. He sat down and asked if we could be friends. I wasn't expecting that kind of question, so I didn't really say anything. He asked for my cell phone number; I gave him my business card with my work contact information. He asked if I was on Facebook; I lied and said I wasn't. He gave me Valentine’s Day cookies and asked if I would help with his English soon. I think the entire time he was in my office, I said two words: Hello and Goodbye.
After he left I proceeded to have a good freak out. With the language barrier, I didn't know what he meant. My definition of the word Friend could be completely different from his definition of the word. And accepting a present doesn't really help things, not that I actually accepted it, he just kinda left it there on the table. At this point I decided enough was enough. I don’t really want to be dealing with these types of issues. So I called my supporting manager and discovered he can’t do a thing, other than tell me to stand up for myself (which I already knew). I called security and because I am not a student they will not escort me on campus, same with the safe-walk program (which is bullshit… does it not cover female instructors??).
When I pulled up security’s information the internet also pulled up the statistics for this particular campus in regards to assaults, harassment/threats, robbery, drugs, breaking and entering, theft, etc. That was an interesting albeit disturbing read. The numbers for a small campus are ridiculously high. Who know such a thing existed on the internet. But it is ridiculous. Here I am asking for assistance in this issue, but no one will help until I become another statistic.
I am pretty out there on the internet. You have to look for me, but I'm not that hard to find. (I can totally hear my Dad in my head right now... lecturing about security and the internet). I've tried living without blogging. It's not possible. I care too much about the community of people I've met to give up blogging. I care about having the freedom to express myself. I also care about personal safety and having support.
This is one of those things that I can’t write about on my own blog, but I just needed to share it. Since I don’t have the support I need at work, I hope that Belle’s readers can offer the support I’m unable to ask of my own readers.