…..not even close.
Today was a very distressing day at work. I would gladly trade my experience today with one in which a rude customer dropped numerous f-bombs in my face.
Today’s experience was creepy, gross, disturbing, uninvited and unwanted.
I suppose this story began a few months back, maybe March, after I’d returned from my knee surgery leave of absence. I was ringing one of our regulars, a guy I’ve been ringing up for almost four years (my fourth anniversary will be August 16th). I never got THESE kinds of vibes from him. I know I never gave him any. He has sometimes been kind of cranky; there have been times I thought he might be bi-polar. He’s never rude exactly but things have pissed him off. I think it was last Fall when he was upset because we didn’t have the pool chemicals he needed. We didn’t have them because we were transitioning our floor space from Summer stock to Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas stock. Our store is not a huge Supercenter. It’s size is between Supercenter size and Walmart Neighborhood Market size. Our floor space is kind of limited. I called a manager to deal with his issue. He calmed down and got apologetic and explained how he used to work for a commercial airline. He likes to talk about that experience a lot. Usually, it’s when he’s explaining how he knows how stupid management and companies can be. I always found this interesting dealing with him because I’ve met many people who worked for this same airlines and they each loved their jobs.
My interactions with this male customer have never been friendly. I’d describe them as polite, cordial and professional. So, I was stunned when, a couple of months ago, he said what he said. I was ringing up his order, which wasn’t large, or even medium. He never gets a huge amount. That probably explains why he shops sometimes twice a week. During the interaction in question we started discussing music. He’d had some music playing on his phone-either the Scorpions or AC/DC. I don’t recall which but, I like both of those bands. The conversation turned a little more cerebral than most of the conversations go at work.
Soon he began complimenting my intelligence. I was wrapping up the end of the transaction when he said, “You’re probably the most intelligent person in this store.” I felt weirdness coming. As he began rolling his cart away he turned to me and said, “Intelligent women turn me on.” Whoa! Major flesh crawl. I was disgusted and stunned and remained silent and moved on.
I began avoiding him whenever I saw him searching for an available cashier. I would suddenly need to go to the bathroom or return a cold food item-any cashier’s cold item-to the sales floor. Then a month or so after that first comment he reminded me of his, “preference.” I hadn’t even rung his order, he was rolling away from the cashier who did. Again, my gag reflex went into motion.
I approached, Daniel, one of our CSM’s and told him my tale. He assured me I could dump him on someone else. “Flick your light and we will get someone to cover you,” he told me. Good but, still I avoided him and managed to do so until today.
It was around 1:30 pm and I was on register 3, which is one of our busiest registers and I like working it for that reason. True, it’s close to the rotisserie chickens and the smell makes me hungry. Oh, it’s a dirty job… It was pretty busy, all of us had lines of carts backed up. I looked up and saw Creepy Guy in my line. I swiveled my head looking for a CSM or a cashier looking for a home. Nobody. Shit. I reached his order. I gave him a chilly greeting and began ringing up his stuff.
For those who are unfamiliar with the format at Walmart it is like this: we have no baggers. Cashiers are baggers. Each check stand is designed with a pedestal-like support on which the console and monitor, with touch screen, and adjacent keyboard sit. Cashiers face toward the lane and customers. We stand perpendicular to the cash drawers. Next to the stand that supports the monitor is a space of about a foot and a half and then there is the bag carousel. It was within this space that my gross out appeared.
I was busy ringing Creepy Guy’s order and trying to avoid eye contact. Well, that backfired because my gaze fell upon his britches, where I was presented with the physiological evidence that intelligent women turn him on. That, or he had a large cucumber in his pants. I was disgusted and repulsed by his erection. I sped up my ringing and prayed to God that he only had to pee. No such luck. I finished the transaction and he rolled away not in the direction of the restrooms but, toward the door. I wanted to gag but, we were busy and I continued to work, trying to unsee what I had just seen and silently begging God to replace it with a really horrible song stuck in my head. Anything, Steve Miller, Ted Nugent, Guns and Roses (who only suck because of Axl), Terry Jacks, The Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band. ANYONE who sucks, I don’t care. Just remove that vision from my brain!!!!!
God, however, has not quite forgiven me for the ugly atheism incident from my undergrad days. I can still see it. Ten hours later.
About an hour later, Rosemary, another cashier, came over to send me on my lunch hour. Yay! I needed to vent. I took my returns to Customer Service and headed to the front office, where I found my boss, Lynda, I said, “I need to vent.” She invited me in. I unloaded about Creepy Guy. She said,”That’s disturbing.” That’s one things I love about her. She’s understated, calm, professional and with a well-controlled and hidden warped sense of humor. She reminds me a lot of my favorite front end manager I had at Publix. Her name was Pamela, so you know she was a wonderful human being. Lynda wanted a description. Since, “gross,” was too vague I offered, “Not sure if he’s slightly younger or older than me. About five-nine, five-ten. White hair. Always wears a t-shirt and khaki type shorts, athletic shoes and white socks. He’s in here all the time. I’ve been ringing him up without incident for almost four years.” I told her about the, “intelligent women…,turn me on comment.” She seemed grossed out too. She said she’d give the description to AP (asset protection/security) and I knew that those lucky guys were going to have to scour video for a guy in shorts at Register 3 who had a woody. Yay for them. I’m sure they were thrilled. Life at Walmart; the good times never end.
I went to lunch and texted Rose, who had off today. I knew she’d love another Walmart story and I needed to vent. I texted my bestie, Pat. She was as repulsed as I was and said, “I bet you feel assaulted.” I realized my string of emotions went as so: stunned numbness, trying to see it in cartoon form and, then, anger and sickness and tears.
The tears puzzled me. Then I realized that I was sick of seemingly only attracting gross, annoying, crazies. I’m still dealing with my hacker/spoofer/cyber stalker. Just a few days ago he sent me another Facebook fake. He was another doctor. He sends me a lot of doctors and engineers. Never any lawyers. Maybe because he’s afraid it will remind me that his behavior is skirting criminal activity. Then yesterday Rose divulged that she also received an invitation from “Dr. Frank.” Not surprising considering he hacked into my old phone and spied on my contact list, text messages and a Facebook page, among other things. He even began spoof calling my other bestie, Chelle. She got spoofed with some of the same numbers I got spoofed with. When called, many of those numbers are “non-working numbers,” the polite computer operator says.
I’m sick of this crap. The only appealing (and dear God, he’s appealing) guy in my immediate orbit is a flirtatious man whose availability status is questionable. If I knew his availability (or the degree of seriousness) I could have a blast returning his flirts. But, alas, I’m stuck with a guy in love with me who needs psychiatric hospitalization and a guy with elongated vegetables in his pants. Somehow that seems more tolerable a concept than that he has a hard on.
In all seriousness, what I experienced was an invasion. I’m not the teeniest bit interested or attracted to Creepy Guy. He invaded my space, my time, my emotions, my vision, my thought processes. It’s rude. A decent guy, once he realized what his body was doing, would have gotten out of line, gone to the men’s room and rearranged things. Nope, I kind of think he wanted me to see that. That’s just gross.
I returned to the front end after my lunch. A while later Lynda came over to my register and shut off my light and told me to meet her in the office. Once in there, we were joined by, Amanda, another CSM (she’s awesome too) and Lynda told me what the AP guys found. They found Creepy Guy and his woody was, “inconclusive.” Pretty humorous, huh? But, basically, Lynda said I never have to deal with him again. If no one is available I can flick my light excuse myself from Creepy Guy and tell him I have to do ….something. Even if people are behind him. Of course, I will try to maybe swap with another cashier, maybe I finish ringing what they are ringing while they go ring Creepy Guy.
It feels good that management cares. It really does. It’s unfortunate and unfair that women are more harassed this way more than men are. I have worked with, maybe, three guys who were harassed by obsessive females. And, I’m sure straights don’t have a monopoly on this kind of behavior. No one should have to tolerate it.
In another universe, I get to practice Kama Sutra positions with Flirtatious Questionable Availability Guy. But, apparently, I’m luckier with the lottery.
I altered the names of my co-workers to protect them.