Earlier this year while working at the bank I had a customer pursue me pretty aggressively. We were introduced by the other teller who knew him as a friendly regular. He was significantly older than me and in the course of our two minute conversation described himself as “lonely and looking for love”. That cringeworthy line brought to mind the word ‘desperate’ but I smiled politely and finished the transaction. I’ve been in customer service most of my life. I’m unfortunately very accustomed to hearing strange things. But I wasn’t ready for how bizarre this would become.
A few weeks later he returned to the drive thru. It was near the end of the day and I was the only teller. He attempted to make small talk.
“Oh, I really hate this time of year! I get allergies so bad! What about you and your husband? Do you get allergies?”
I have a horrible distaste for bait questions. This wasn’t about allergies - he was trying to find out if I was married. I wasn’t about to play this game.
“I don’t have allergies” I replied.
“What about you husband?” He wasn’t giving up.
“I am not married”
“Oh!” His eyes brightened. “We should date!”
My face twisted into visible hesitation and before I could even say “no” he cut me off.
“I can see you are not interested, but let me give you my number anyway.”
He scribbled his number down on a scrap piece of paper and drove off in smug confidence.
There were a million things wrong with this situation. I resent being cornered were I work. I am in a location that I can not leave and I am being paid to be friendly - it is literally my job to be polite. Bait questions may make you feel like you’ve got the upper hand, but to me they only make people come off as sly or uncourageous. He had only met me twice and talked to me for grand total of three minutes. All he knew about me was that I worked at the bank, my name was Melissa, I didn’t have allergies, and I wasn’t married. That was the full scope of his knowledge of me and he was completely willing to throw himself at my feet. He didn’t like me because I was smart, funny, or kind. He liked me because he thought I was pretty and knew I was single. That was it. He was just grasping at straws.
I never called him. Weeks went by and I always let the other tellers deal with him. You’d think he would have gotten the hint but he wrote down his number again and gave it to the other teller to give to me. She chastised me for not returning his attention. She felt I shouldn’t be so picky since I was single.
“We’ll he has always been nice to me” she boasted.
I had to firmly remind her that the only reason he was respectful of her boundaries was because he already knew she was married and that just because I was single doesn’t mean that I have to entertain every jackass that likes my “pretty smile”.
Since he clearly couldn’t take a hint I decided to bring the matter to my managers attention. At first she suggested that I tell him I’m in a relationship.
“He already knows I’m single and I’m not going to make up an imaginary person so he can respect me. I’m ok with telling him to fuck off - I just don’t want to loose my job over it.”
She told me to tell him that was against company policy to fraternize with customers outside of work. Next time I saw him that’s exactly what I told him. He was embarrassed and I was relieved thinking that it was finally over. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be that easy.
I came home that evening to find a Facebook message from him insisting that he understood we couldn’t talk outside of work but that he hoped we could still me friends. I couldn’t believe how dense this guy was. I took screenshots of everything and blocked him.
I showed my manager the screen shots and she said she would talk to him. But as the weeks dragged on it was obvious that she didn’t care. She knew he came in towards the end of the day but she would always leave early. I was concerned because I knew how pushy he was and sometimes I was the only teller when he would come in. I could literally be in a situation where I was forced to interact with him. My manager kept brushing it off and insisted that “it wasn’t that big of a deal”.
I was so uneasy. In the few short months I had been in my new job I had not received my complete training, been struggling to learn all my new responsibilities on my own, forced to deal with a consistently disrespectful teller and a manager who would only interact with you if you had done something she wanted to yell at you for. Now I also had to deal with this guy.
During a meeting with my regional manager, one of the precious few people I worked with who I trusted, I broke down into tears. I told her about all the difficulties I had with my coworkers and how the situation had gone on for months without anyone taking me seriously. She was appalled, and worked with my manager to resolve the issue. He was finally told - in no uncertain terms - not to talk to me again. It brought some piece but my manager knew that in raising hell about it I had made her look bad. She found ways to be even colder towards me and the teller continued her tantrums and rants.
It was unnecessarily difficult and stress-inducing. Mercifully, that branch was closed and I got transferred to a new location. I adore all my new co-workers and admire how thoughtful and cooperative they all are. Being in a happier and more productive environment has been an enormous weight lifted off my soul.
Recently a man came into my new location. He wasn’t a regular and I’d never seen him before. He walked up to the counter and asked for a money order - adding that he was in a rush and needed to be out quickly. I gathered his info and worked as fast as I could to finish the transaction. He got the money order and abruptly left. A few minutes later I happened to glance at my phone and noticed I received a Facebook message - from the very same guy I had just helped.
He said he thought I had a pretty smile and offered to take me out for a drink.
The message was pleasant enough but I couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t so much as bothered to be nice while he was standing in front of me.
Although he hadn’t literally cornered me at work he had still gone through the trouble of seeking me out on the internet - without so much a saying more than two sentences to me.
As happy as I was in my new location this situation forced me to confront an old fear. This wasn’t an isolated incident. This was now the second time a man had sought me out via the internet without knowing me at all. I hate being approached like that.
It isn’t bold, confident, or sincere. It’s sly, desperate, and grabby.
I start pacing around at work. My heart beats faster. I want to scream. I feel trapped behind all the plexiglass. He only likes me because he thinks I’m pretty. He doesn’t know a damn thing about me.
I know I’m curvy and I wear red lipstick. I like the way I look and I wouldn’t do anything to change it. But it bothers me when that’s all people see.
I went on a date with a man earlier this year and we talked about what we wanted from a relationship. I said I wanted to be seen as a whole. All to often I am carved into pieces. I have nice lips, a large bust, full hips, etc. Even beyond the physical I am still seen only in fragments. Some people only know me from work, or dancing, but no one sees the bigger picture of me.
Less than 10 minutes later he said I had nice tits and my heart sank. I knew I would never be more than just pieces to him.
Even so I did have one ex who had been to both of my jobs, gone to swing dancing with me, meet most of my friends, and been to my website. Instead of taking all in and seeing the big picture of who I am and what I am capable of he spent enormous amounts of time and energy trying to make me bite-sized.
He wanted me to quit one of my jobs even though he knew how much it meant to me. He didn’t like me going to Swing because there were too many other men to talk to. He didn’t like it when I hung out with my friends because it was time spent away from him. I tried to explain myself but he never understood. I could love someone and bring them into my life but the closer he got the more he tried to take away. My boldness and spirited nature - the things I thought he loved me for - turned out to be things he resented in me.
Always carved into little pieces.
In most of my life I am outgoing, friendly, and engaging. But when it comes to matters of the heart I can be remarkably cagey.
And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me that I should be grateful for all the attention.
No. I will not show any type of gratitude for merely being pawed at.
I will save my gratitude for someone who takes the time to get to know me. All the parts of me. Someone with kindness and intelligence. Someone with genuine charisma and emotional stability. Someone with a happy heart.
I am cagey because most people make me feel trapped.
I imagine true love would feel like freedom.