Hallway Harassment

Photo by Andrew Michaels via Flickr

My company partners with another company that trains people to use their software. We provide our training room, they train people. The students (these are adult students, usually approximately 30+) are usually a mild annoyance – personal calls in our lobby while we are trying to work, wandering into secured spaces, etc, but generally are polite and leave us alone unless they are asking where the bathroom is, what restaurants are nearby, etc.

We were getting ready to have lunch one day and I walked to the kitchen with my tupperware to heat it up. Two students were standing in the hall. As I walked by (wearing jeans a plain black cotton shirt, showing nothing) and flip flops (it was casual Friday), one of the men said “mmmm you bring enough for two?” I turned around and looked at him. He looked me up and down and said “mmmmm” I rushed to the kitchen not sure what to do – I was at work! I get harassed on the street and in bars quite often, and I always stand up for myself – I will tell a guy he is gross, he is disrespectful, he needs to not touch me, I will call the police, etc- but at work, I didn’t know what to do. I can’t push him, or scream anything, because it’s my OFFICE.

I sat down to have lunch still fuming, while my (male) coworker laughed – he didnt understand – and I decided I was reporting it as best I could – I called upstairs, spoke to our office manager, and “reported” the incident, but the class w as over and he was leaving for good. He was waiting for the elevator down as I waited for the elevator up to report him. He gave me a little wave, knowing there was nothing I could do, while his buddy stood by looking visibly uncomfortable with what happened but not saying anything. I did, at that point, give him the finger. We don’t have any control over the students, so we couldn’t find out who he was or where he was from or do anything, which was, of course, frustrating but understandable.

All that has happened since is that students are no longer supposed to be in the lobby, but no one can enforce it.
It was my work. If there’s one place I should feel safe from this nonsense it’s in my locked up office that requires a badge to access it. Awful day. Was a few months ago now and I still get anxious if students are in the hall.

Submitted by Anonymous on 06/08/2010

Location: Office in Reston, VA

Time of Harassment: Day Time (9:30A-3:30P)

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4 Responses

  1. Golden Silence

    I can’t think for the life of me why these men think this behavior is flattering, cute or funny. I’m sorry that happened to you.

    I know that feeling, the feeling of feeling powerless, not being able to take a stand, and that nasty sensation you get when the harasser smugly celebrates getting away with harassment. You’re not alone, trust me.

  2. cathy

    it’s your office, so yes you can scream – it’s yours, not his!

    it’s mind-boggling that any office building would allow strangers to wander around without at least signing in – i hate post-9/11 paranoia but come on, common criminals? they’re allowed to come through and case the joint? hopefully they’ll wake up to how unsafe their practices are.

  3. confusedmale

    Now sure why this was such a horrible experience for you. He made an awkward pass at you. It was one sentence. He never touched you. Why is it still effecting your life months later?

    • Ben

      I disagree that this was an awkward pass. The comments this man made are inherently demeaning and he clearly wasn’t really interested in the trainer who tells her story. He would have approached her differently if he was. It’s probably hard for some of us men to realize how powerless these situations make women feel because we really don’t have to experience it. It might be a good idea to read some more posts on this blog and talk about this story with friends and family who are women to get their take on it. That’s been pretty helpful to me.