I was overflowing with emotions during my last two weeks of work at a job I loved, but had decided to leave for a major opportunity. Before the email announcement went out I had the goodbye conversation with my closest friends and co-workers. Each conversation was emotional and beautiful in its own way. You tend to discover how much the people around you appreciate you when you’re on your way out the door. One particular conversation surprised the hell out of me.
Big Face, that’s what we’ll call him, approached me and the words came out more easily this time, “I have news, a major opportunity came my way…” and so on. His reaction was great. He was supportive, sympathetic. There was something different about his tone, a new level of familiarity.
Suddenly his hand was on my back, “Now that you’re leaving I feel like we can be close. I’ve been having a really rough time. My wife and I are going through a divorce.”
I was shocked, began to react with a lot of sympathy. Was also a bit uncomfortable. We were at work and this was a difficult conversation to spring on someone so totally out of the blue.
I kept listening, attentive and supportive, but his words changed so quickly, “I saw you on a dating site, I’ve been thinking about you a lot.”
Shit. Wait. What?
“A dating site?”
“On Bumble, you look-”
“I haven’t signed on in forever. I totally forgot I set up that profile.” This was actually true. Though I’m not sure how anything normal continued to come out of my mouth.
“Now that we’re both single (everyone at work knew I’d gone though a major breakup), and we won’t be working together, we can finally…”
Cue nervous, “Oh isn’t that just hilarious!” laughter. Oh my god please get me out of here. I don’t know what to do.
This idiot continued on, telling me I should log back into Bumble, and comments of…shit he just shouldn’t be saying.
At the time
I couldn’t respond. I managed the situation. Managed to close the conversation and get away as quickly as possible. We were just standing on the floor in the open at work. I was humiliated and disgusted- gag reflex fully works! and shocked and, and, what to do?
“Excuse me, did you just say dating site?”
“Yeah, I found you on Bumble.”
“Stop right there! Don’t you dare speak to me like this. And don’t you ever think it’s okay to touch me!” I very deliberately stepped back and removed the creepy arm- ewwwww, ick, ick, why the hell are you touching me?- that had started as a hand on my back which was creepy enough on its own.
“I have no interest in this conversation. I’m not attracted to you. You’re a 40-something old married man with 3 children. I’m 33. We work together and it ends there! You have no right to speak to me like this. It’s Uncomfortable and disgusting to me. Grow up, and don’t make this mistake again.”
-Misogyny rarely happens when you’re prepared for it. It is somehow always shocking and leaves me completely unequipped to respond. The Red Pages is my opportunity to share these stories, and other women’s stories, and take back the moment.