Grab a chai girls, this is for you.
Before we get started, let's get these definitions out.
Harassment: is unwanted behaviour which you find offensive or which makes you feel intimidated or humiliated.
Uncomfortable: causing or feeling slight pain or physical discomfort.
Personal space: the physical space immediately surrounding someone, into which encroachment can feel threatening or uncomfortable.
Let me tell you a little story about my last hectic workplace with my "ew" of a manager.
I got a new job and I was over the moon, especially with the position I was given within this job. There was a new store opening up within my hometown and I was going to be a part of it, and it was exciting. But before that, I had to do training in another store to get equipped for the new store which was okay. At the store I was doing my training in, I met the manager for the new store and the manager was kind, helpful and honestly sweet and I did not think much other than that. He helped me when I needed help and it was nice to get that support because I will be working with him every day. However, it suddenly started to get weird.
Within the first week of my training, I started to get texts from him every day and at first, I thought it was okay because he needed information for the job however, he started to talk more about himself and asked personal questions and addressed me with "hey beautiful" every-time he messaged. Not cool and ew. He then insisted we met up after hours and grab dinner and at first, I responded no because first, he is my manager and I do not know him at all. But he did not stop there and kept pushing to meet and said we can go out "as friends, colleague or anything else" and honestly, that threw me off. He then explained he needs to talk to me about my role and that it is important I know this before I start and I was still unsettled with this but, I decided to let these chill vibes go and give it a shot. However, he kept calling me at unreasonable times and I would not answer because to me it was inappropriate, and he could just text me whatever he needed. I asked my family and friends if I should go and they go 1 hour won't do no harm and it might be important. I just wanted him to stop bothering me and I felt a bit pressured because after-all he was my new boss. So, I listened and said yes to go grab dinner and talk about my contract because it's all business, right? Wrong.
This is where it gets weird.
He picks me up from my place at 9pm and we went off for dinner. This was so late for me and I felt uncomfortable as soon as I stepped into his car, but I kept my cool. We got to the restaurant and he ordered food and before he spoke, I asked about the contract in which he responded, "we can talk about that later, let’s get to know each other first". First of all, ew. I let him do all the talking and I kept blanking halfway because I honestly wanted to go home and kept making excuses just so I can leave. After dinner, he insisted on desserts, but I could not even stomach my dinner with him and insisted I go home, and he finally understood my no.
This was just my first week of getting the job and I just ignored the little signs and kept this within myself. Months on, I knew I should have not kept it inside because of what happened with myself and others.
As the new store opened, it was great and there was eight of us together. As the team was full of girls and he was the only man in charge, we all looked up to him to support us and be there for us. Instead, he did the opposite.
He harassed other girls within the area and gave us a bad reputation that the girls that use to come and say hi to us did not want to be near us and we had no idea why. Soon, girls slowly started quitting the job and there was only four of us together. He was invading in our personal bubble and giving me life advice about what I am doing wrong and why I should listen to him. He would comment on our make-up on what he likes and what he doesn't like. He was not being respectful, considerate and did what he pleased. He made inappropriate jokes about women and I can see he thought himself as a 'ladies’ man' which is ew. There was this one girl he went way too far with and she ended up trashing his car because I guess she got angered by his motives. Understandable, but not what you want to hear about your manager. Again, nothing happened to him because his behaviour was not reported to anyone. Did he learn his lesson? No.
As the months went past, his good reputation started going downhill with the girls everywhere and no one did a thing including myself. I was amazed by the fact that he had all these girls’ numbers just so he can hook them up with free stuff. What could I do? I thought to myself that this happens everywhere, and it is normalised, and no one cares, and I was right to an extent.
Until one day, we all made a complaint because he was starting to be irresponsible as a manager with timing, breaks and giving out free products to the 'girls' and I had enough. I did not want to be treated as an object and certainly, I did not want to listen to a man who talks over me and think's he is always right because of his position. I did not want to tolerate him anymore and no one wanted to be near him or work with him. So, we all complained. Within a month, he was fired from his position which was great. However, throughout that month we had to work with him as he was under investigation and I did not understand why it took that long or why we had to work with him considering the complaints we made. Like I said, no one cares.
This is where he harassed me. Throughout the investigation, he took me aside and asked me uncomfortable questions and tried to justify himself in front of me and tried to make me look like the bad guy. He went on about how I am his "sister" and he is " allowed to make friends" but I'm sorry, why are all the 'friends" female? I kept quiet and listened to his frustrations while I was getting frustrated. After he finished, I complained straight away to my area manager about how and why is asking me questions about things that was said in confidential and that I did not want any more shifts with him. He understood and I just waited patiently for my manager to get fired. It then reached to my operational manager and she fired him within 2 days of finding out about this news only because we sent it to the big boss. I was tired of waiting. The day I received that call I felt as if my shoulders can finally rest.
I thought the only reason he got fired because a woman got the job done, not a man because she understands. It should have not taken a whole month for him to get fired especially after all he had caused. So, if you do experience harassment or any kind of uncomfortableness within the workplace, please speak up and not only for you but others. This was just a bit of what he did on a daily basis and it was not okay. If it happens to you please don't do a me and just accept that this is normal because it is not. Do not feel guilty for feeling uncomfortable because that is not your fault. We need to act on actions like these and it does make a difference. We need to speak up on certain things that makes us uncomfortable because that's the only way people will learn. And once we speak up, please take us seriously so we can see a difference. We wonder why women don't speak up when something happens and it is because nothing happens to make a change. We often feel embarrassed to even speak up because of how uncomfortable the situation makes us and we rather be quiet but, don't please. Know your boundaries and act upon it if your bubble is popping and don't ever feel guilty for it.
That's the chai for today.