A Man Tried To Force Me Into A Relationship Because I Greeted Him

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woman with refusal gesture

There have been many times throughout my retail career when a male customer or coworker has made me feel uncomfortable.

I’ve had men stare at me, try to hug me, buy me drinks, and even give me their phone numbers. Despite all the unwanted attention, no man has ever made me feel as uncomfortable as the man who thought I was flirting because I greeted him.

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I was working for the now non-existent (or almost non-existent) retail giant known as Sears, but I wasn’t very good at my job.

I ended up asking my manager for suggestions, and he told me that I should greet every customer who came within ten feet of me. While the suggestion was reasonable, it didn’t take long before a man thought that my greeting him meant I was trying to be flirtatious.

I barely even glanced up when he walked through the door for the first time.

“Hi, how are you?” I asked as I folded a pair of jeans.

I only looked up when I noticed he was walking toward me. He looked to be a little older than I was, with blonde hair and a chubby build. He wore a stained band shirt paired with cargo shorts and a red hat.

I don’t remember how the conversation started, but I remember how uncomfortable I felt the entire time he graced me with his presence.

He asked me if I had a man at home to rub my feet after work and other repulsive questions. I remember him telling me that he was newly single because his crazy ex-girlfriend had thrown an ashtray at him.

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I wanted nothing more than to express how disinterested I was, but I also wanted to keep my job.

I should have alerted a manager, but there was no way to do that while he was standing right there. I also wasn’t sure how the manager and the guest would react, so telling a manager could have cost me my job.

I was beyond disgusted when he told me that mentally ill people were the best at sex. He asked me if I was bipolar, like his ex. I never gave him much of an answer to anything because I wanted him to leave me alone, but he never got the hint.

I wasn’t sure how to react, but I felt trapped by my need to keep my job. What would happen if I was rude to him? Would he decide to complain about me to management? I couldn’t afford to lose my job, so I was forced to listen to him until he went away. Unfortunately, he ended up visiting me daily.

I was never interested in talking to him, so I started telling him negative things about myself to get him to lose interest in me. No matter what I told him, he wouldn’t leave me alone.

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I started discussing him with my coworkers, some of which suggested that I wear a fake wedding ring to get him to back off. I felt that I couldn’t do that because I’d already mentioned there was no ‘man to rub my feet.

Finally, I reached a boiling point. As I was about to change the register, I spotted him. I told this cashier what was happening and how uncomfortable this person made me feel.

I knew it was immature, but I picked a random number from the phone book and asked the other cashier if he could give it to him. My coworker and I never spoke of the situation again, and the chubby blonde didn’t return to the store.

After the experience with him, I stopped greeting every guest. I was still kind to the guests, but I only greeted those that came to my register.

Now that I’m older, I realize how awful it was for him to approach me at work.

If the same situation happened to me today, I wouldn’t allow the man to make me feel uncomfortable. I would feel more confident reaching out to others for support.

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Jade M. is a Louisiana-based writer who focuses on love, relationships, and pop culture. 

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.