I want to start this by stating that my former workplace was never a great place to work. There were days when I felt like I was prying open the gate to Hell and walking through a field of barbed wire, just to be yelled at and beaten. I excused most of the things that happened at work because it was a job. I had left behind a job that I enjoyed for a job that made me cry on an almost daily basis. I’m still in the process of detoxing from this job, and I felt that writing about my experience would help me.
When I started this job, I came to the realization that a lot of people didn’t like me. I later found out that it was because a woman who worked there was making up things about me and telling other people. I don’t know why she did this, but I assume it was because she was angry about me being hired as a full-time associate. The only people who bothered to be kind to me were men from other departments, so I guess that’s why I met him.
For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call him Ethan. The first time I saw Ethan, I was shocked by how closely he resembled my ex-boyfriend. They were both tall and thin with brown hair and glasses. Their faces looked totally different, but from a distance they could have been twins. I found myself trying to avoid him because of this, but I knew I’d eventually have to work with him. He was a team lead over the cashiers and the people in departments were often used as ‘back-ups’. Surprisingly, my first encounter with him happened in my department. He came over to yell at me because I didn’t know the girl from my department had gone to lunch and he needed something.
I should have written him off as a jerk there, but I’m a forgiving person and I didn’t want to think of him as a bad person just because he resembled my ex-boyfriend. My next encounter with Ethan was a weird one. I was counting down my register and he got really close to me and asked me what I was doing after work. “What?” I asked, turning to face him. I felt uncomfortable, as I thought he might be trying to ask me on a date.
“Your makeup looks nice. I was just wondering what’s the occasion?”
“Oh, I like the holidays, and Halloween’s coming up,” I responded as I started to walk away from him. Something about his approach made me nervous and I just wanted to be away from him.
He told me that he didn’t really like the holidays. I’m not sure how I responded, but this was typically how our interactions unfolded. Sometimes he would inform me that he was single and lonely. I always thought it was weird that he was telling me this, but I just chalked it up to him being socially awkward. I didn’t even think anything of it when coworkers asked me if I would date him. I always just said that I didn’t know him well enough, which was the truth. I still don’t know anything about him other than the fact that he likes Star Trek and has a Yorkie.
One day a twenty-five-year-old woman came through my line and decided to apply for a credit card. Her ID wouldn’t scan so he came over. He told her she was probably too young to get a credit card, so she stopped trying. Later, I remember teasing him about chasing her away. He called me a liar and said if I kept lying, he would spank me. I remember being in shock that he had said this. I honestly wasn’t sure how to feel, so I asked some of my male friends. Each one of them said this was inappropriate and stated that I should report him. I already knew that I wasn’t going to. I told myself that he probably didn’t mean that in a sexual way, but it still made me feel weird. He’d even repeated it a total of three times, once in front of another coworker.
He also made a comment about my relationship status once. I was telling how my ex-boyfriend (the one he looked like) used to limit me to one meal a day. I explained to him that this was why I’d gained weight and that I was now trying to get the weight off. His response to that? “Sounds like you need another boyfriend to push you.” I grew uncomfortable with this and walked away while saying no. He also tried to get me to tell a special needs coworker that lesbians produce babies by scissoring and made comments about a coworker’s sex life. During the Christmas season, he informed me that the song ‘Santa Baby’ was a slut song. His reasoning was that she said, “Think of all the boys that I haven’t kissed” and claimed to have ‘banged’ all the women he did kiss. He quickly said that he didn’t kiss often, and that one thing just lead to another. I remember telling him that it didn’t work like that, and that a lot of people aren’t like him. He also called me a retard one day when I said something that made him angry.
Despite his crude behavior, I was desperate for people to befriend at my workplace. I allowed him to behave this way. In fact, there were times when I enjoyed talking to him. I even sent him a package of depends on his birthday as a ‘getting older’ joke. It was around this time that he asked me for my info on Steam (a gaming site). I didn’t know giving it to him would be the beginning of the end for me.