toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

November 24, 2006

the persistent admirer at work

Bambi, 28, gritted her teeth as best she could, saying, "I'll think about it" when Nero, a co-worker in another department, invited her to a party on Saturday. She could not believe that he would have the cheek to ask her out after she had already rejected him on three previous occasions.

"I had been stalked and terrorized as a young girl by a guy whose advances I had once rejected," explains Bambi, "so I was understandably concerned about the situation."

Bambi is a very attractive lady and has many admirers at work, and most respect her rights when she declines a date. Nero was different. He was persistent.

"I really cannot go out with every guy who asks me," explains Bambi, "and it's sometimes very difficult to say 'no' without hurting some guy's feelings."

"With Nero I could see that a straight 'no thanks' wasn't working so I needed to play for time."

The next day was a Thursday and, after much agonizing, not knowing how he would jump, Bambi telephoned Nero at work and opted out of attending the party, saying she needed time to help a girlfriend move house.

"He sounded okay, and took my rejection without much protest," says Bambi, "so I took the plunge and followed up the telephone call with a brief handwritten card sent to his home address saying words to the effect that I would prefer he did not ask me out again. When all else fails, a formal written request to stop doing something is the only way to go."

Nero would receive the card when he got home the next day, Friday, or by Monday at the latest. Bambi did not want the situation to be hanging over head all weekend. It needed to be finalized now.

If Nero's persistent behavior was merely bravado - maybe a bet with the guys at work that he could get her to go out with him - then Bambi's written rejection would be received with a bit of disappointment and resignation, nothing more.

However, if his ego was so badly bruised by her failure to find him attractive that three rejections were not enough then when he receives the card he could turn nasty and start grinding her into the ground in order to make himself feel better.

"Having told him that I would be out all weekend helping my girlfriend I suppose I was taking a risk,"explains Bambi. "He could do something awful like trash my place - but then he possibly intended to trash my life in one way or another whether I sent him the card or not, so I definitely felt that putting my message formally in writing was imperative."

Having removed herself from a tricky situation, Bambi's next task was to maintain her distance.

"The easiest way to do this," explains Bambi, "is to take steps not to be seen, not to be available and not to react to unforeseen provocations."

Friday was uneventful, and so was the weekend.

"I drove home from my girlfriend's place late on Sunday night and slept like a baby," laughs Bambi.

"Early on Monday morning I left for work and found a thick handwritten letter from Nero on my desk!"

Bambi shivered with disgust at the thought of Nero prowling around her workspace in the wee small hours of the morning.

"I put the letter straight into the wastepaper bin unopened," sighs Bambi. "I've been through this before so I knew what was coming next."

Nero kept the notes and emails coming for two months and Bambi threw them all away unopened.

"As long as I kept cool and didn't react to these provocations -- such as informing management about him -- I knew that he would leave me alone eventually," says Bambi. "But I feel very sorry for any woman he gets involved with because persistent guys like Nero are likely to be violent and abusive partners."

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