If I’ve learned anything in my history of employment, it is this: To be employed is to be sexually harassed. It doesn’t matter how much money they pour into work trainings and seminars, you’re going to spend 40 hours of your week hearing about who banged who in the back of a patrol car or sitting in meetings with a guy who claims to know the various shades of South American hookers’ tatas.
I can’t take any of this seriously because the lawsuits would never end. I think my favorite was the guy who told me he hoped I’d learned my lesson after my abusive ex sent my scandalous photos to our coworkers. Of course— if my ex had been my boss then I probably would have gotten a promotion, just like the woman who was sleeping with our chief legal counsel.
But a few days ago I had an experience that creeped me out in the weirdest of ways. It’s not nearly as dramatic or overt as the others but for some reason I just can’t let it go. Is this sexual harassment?
I’m sitting in my office when a new investigator from Internal Affairs darkens my doorway. I’m tight with that department due to previously mentioned naked photos but this was his second week, so I didn’t really know him. He was there to interview employees about any manner of horrendous behavior and was using the conference room across from my office. Only problem was that instead of taking the routine 45 minutes per interview, he was keeping it to a sparse 11 minutes. What this meant was that he spent the rest of the time in my office.
I’ll be real here—I have a couch, a chair, a fridge, and a microwave in my office. The only thing that’s really missing is a sleeping bag and a wet bar, but a stiff from Internal Affairs is not my ideal waste-the-day-away companion. Plus, he didn’t even sit down. He just stood there, towering over my desk.
For three and a half hours. Talking.
We weren’t engrossed in conversation. I sat there with my arms crossed, occasionally getting up to pee while he continued to tell me the names and ages of his children, where they vacation, how much his truck costs, how big their travel trailer is, what all his neighbors do for a living, and every job he’s had in the last 35 years. There would be long stretches of silence until he found something new to bring up or ask me about.
The Goat Man sat at his desk across the hall laughing his arse off, staring at me and shaking his head. All I could do was stare back with a silent scream.
On its own, this would have put the investigator on my very long list of insufferable colleagues. My problem was that in between showering me with random personal information he had a very favorite topic: Sexual assault. He managed to bring it up—out of nowhere—on six separate occasions.
I don’t think I’m an overly sensitive person. Part of my job involves working with the coroner to track deaths in our community and I’ve spent plenty of time reviewing people’s trauma histories, but this guy seemed to get off on it. Why does a grown ass professional need to tower over me and spontaneously bring up a variety of rape stories?
He’d mix them in—a story about his dog and then BOOM a story about a father assaulting his daughter. A camping story and then BOOM something about a correctional officer and an inmate. A recounting of his Christmas with family and then BOOM a story about a woman who was never believed. Over and over.
He then randomly asked me about traveling. I’d been featured in a work article the week before and it included mention of my travels. I gave him a short answer and he nearly interrupted me to respond.
“I’m surprised that you didn’t get abducted or held for ransom, because of your looks. I think people would pay a lot for you.”
I just stared at him, so he went on to elaborate exactly what he meant.
I’m not saying it’s a bizarre line of thought—plenty of people ask if I was ever scared to travel alone or if people stared at the giant pale redhead. But something about the way he asked made me feel like he had a sound proof cellar hidden behind an outhouse in hillbilly country.
I really want to know—does anyone else find this creepy? I know this probably seems to pale in comparison to the guy who wanted to put me in pantyhose, or the guy who gave me the white buffalo photo but there was something about the entire encounter that gave me the heebie jeebies.
Have you ever had an uncomfortable conversation you couldn’t get out of? Do you see a lot of sexual harassment in YOUR workplace? What would you do in this situation?
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