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The one thing I find extremely difficult and unfair is the helplessness felt by women who work in the customer service industry. There are rules and regulations dealing with sexual harassment from fellow coworkers. But when the harassment comes from a
customer that we’re supposed to be nice to, what can we do?
I used to work as a cashier at Wal-Mart (or as I call it “The Den of DOOM”). There was this one guy there who would always come to my line. I saw him at least
once a week. He would acually seek me out! Once I had a technical problem with one customer’s purchase. When another cashier opened her line, everyone moved to the other line except him! I thought the creep was stalking me.
He would come up to me, and leer and stare at me. Unfortunately I had to wear a name tag so he knew my name. I’ve never heard my name sound so disgusting before. He would ask me when I got off from work, and if I would go out with him. And all I could do was be polite, say no, and try to keep busy when what I really wanted to do was tell him to back the f*** off.
The town I used to lived in at the time used to publish the names and pictures of people who had been arrested for DUI. (I guess as a way to warn others to watch for them on the road?) I saw his face in one of these columns. I wasn’t surprised, but I had noticed he had an unusual name.
One day at work a lady came up to me and asked me to page her husband to meet her at my register. Her husband’s name sounded so familiar, but it wasn’t until I saw it was The Creep walking up to her that I finally put it together! He’d been trying to spin me his tired game and he comes to find me there with *his wife*! When I saw the look on his face, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing!
The next time he tried to bothered me, I asked him how his wife was. He turned red and sped off. He never bothered me after that!
Keep up the good work!
~ Angel H.
P.S. I’d also like to mention that I am a very overweight woman. So when people say that harassment only happens to certain women or that the women should expect this kind of treatment, just point them in my direction. I have plenty of other stories to tell.
The Hollaback NYC blog reminded me of a scary thing that happened to me when I used to work for an inventory service. I sometimes had to work stores in downtown Denver and we wouldn’t get out till after dark. One night as I was leaving, this really freaky dude was standing there on the 16th Street mall. I ignored him and kept walking to get to my car which of course was 5 or so
He suddenly shouted “Hey, Bitch, do you know what time it is?” I ignored him and kept walking. He shouted “Hey, Slut! Yeah, I’m talking to you! Don’t ignore me or I’ll cut your fuckin’ throat!”
I hurried around this corner and was about to duck into a bar and tell them to call the cops. I guess he lost sight of me because he kept walking down 16th street.
I’m sure he was mentally ill but compassion was lost to fear at that point. People like that really shouldn’t be out on the street. Who knows if he was just spouting stuff or if he’d really have done it if he’d gotten hold of somebody?
Written by Cie.
I was living in Astoria, and I use the word ‘living’ — Hold the phone. You won’t believe this. As I was writing this Hollaback, a guy came into my office and sexually harrassed me. He asked me if I like to be flogged, and since it was hot in the office I should get naked. He asked me to cuss because cussing women turn him on. What a fucking creep. Problem is, since he doesn’t work here, or work anywhere, there was nothing I could do. He’s a member of the synagogue. I just tried to steer the conversation towards more neutral ground and towards business. And now I feel stupid because I didn’t stand up for myself more. So, Hollaback, Shelly! I hope you get a papercut on your dick when your jacking off tonight to Hustler.
I was living in Astoria, and I use the word ‘living’ loosely as it was wll about 95 degrees and we had no air conditioner. Also, you don’t live in Astoria, you kind of just wait around in Astoria until you can move to Brooklyn. Anyway. I went out to the store a block away at around 11pm really just to wander around in the Rite Aid air conditioning. This guy on my way to Rite Aid said something nasty to me, and then turned around and followed me into the store. He continued following me around the store, saying nasty things to me under his breath. I alerted the security guy, and the guy walked outside, standing right in front of the door, waiting for me to come out. The security guard said, “What do you want me to do about it?” I said, “Can you tell him to leave me alone, or walk me out the door or something?” and he said, “Boys will be boys.” What a fucking mother fucker. Anyway, I truck it out of the shop, doing my lengthiest stride, and asshole is still following me. I know of an apartment building on my way home where the front door is always unlocked. I decide to go there instead of home. I walk in the front door and disappear into the garden for about 10 minutes. I return to the front door, expecting him to be gone so I can go the fuck home. Nope…
He’s standing right across the street gawking at me through the front door. Anger grabs a hold of me. I step out the front door, and I point right at him. “YOU!” I say. He looks confused and looks around. I yell at the top of my lungs, “YES, YOU. STOP FUCKING FOLLOWING ME.” The guy looks scared and walks away. Just then a Police car drives up. I tell them what happened and they agree to take me home. They just have to take care of a jumper on the roof. HIL-arious. So, they drive me home, and my Landlady gets a nice view of me coming home at midnight in the back of a police car, as they shine their search light full blast at the front door and say in a mega volume loudspeaker, “Can you find your keys?!?” Hollaback to you, asshole mutter-follower. And a special hollaback to that piece of shit guard.
Written by Julie
I live in the crazy college town of Madison, WI. In preparation for Halloween, I took the bus to the mall and got some costume elements. I got off the bus on State Street, only to hear a male voice, “Hey, pink-hair girl!” (My hair is not, in fact, pink, it’s bright red.) But I stop and wait for the man to catch up (I can’t really remember what he looked like anymore) thinking that I had forgotten something on the bus. So he comes up to me and says, “I just wanted to say that I admired you.” Predictably, I’m like, “What for?” He says, “With all the diversity on that bus…you weren’t intimidated or anything.” I am not entirely sure what he means by this, especially since his explanation was far less concise than I have made it, but realize it’s a compliment and thank him, although I’ve started walking home by now and am getting vaguely worried at the way he’s following me. He asks if I’m in a hurry, and suddenly he becomes something more sinister than a guy with poor social skills. I tell him I have to go home and walk away very fast.
In the summer of 1996 I was 20 years old and living in the northern end of Prague. I was young and living it up, working in bars, spending them on beer. Around the corner from my workplace — which closed at 3 a.m. — was this cheesy, crowded bar called Le Chapeau Rouge where you could hang out all night and watch German guys hit on Czech girls, and Czech girls hit on Italian guys, and Italian guys hit on American and British girls, and so on. One night I stayed until closing time — about 7 a.m. When the bar let out it was light outside. As I walked to the subway, across Old Town Square, this guy who was at Le C.R. approaches and starts talking to me. He was French and he had gray teeth. He was shorter than I am (5’3″).
The conversation started off rather blase: “Where are you from?” “US … you?” and so on. Boring boring boring small talk. Until the guy says: “I would like to come home with you.”
“Oh, you can’t,” I said.
“Oh, come on.”
It seems to be a joke on his part. Then we get to the subway station. He tells me that his hostel is at such-and-such a place. It’s in the direction opposite from where I’m going. He continues talking to me and following me along the platform.
“You should get on the other side of the station — your train’s going that way,” I tell him. Rien.
When the train comes I get on … and so does he! That freaks me out. When we get to the next stop, I get out of the car and run like hell to the next car. We get to the next stop and I run into the next car after that one. My getaway is successful, and I get home alone.
Almost ten years later, I can still see that guy’s creepy gray smile.
Posted by Lauri
I’m Naomi, not from NYC. It’s too bad.. I’ve got lots of stories of being harassed and really want to share it. I live in Indonesia, waaayyy far from NYC. But the street harassment here is just as bad. Depends where you walk/ pass. Still, it could happen anywhere anytime. I really wish I was as brave as other girls in the Hollaback blog when I was harassed.
I was 9 years old, in the street full of small shops where suddenly a tall guy (about 20 yrs old) grabbed my bums. Nine years old!! And I was with my mom! Too afraid and embarrassed, I shut my mouth. Damn I couldn’t do anything since it was too crowded, but I knew who did it. Stupid ass tall guy with the hair looking as it’s never been washed & combed with mongrels in it!
And when I was 12 years old, I walked to a bus stop, a guy walked from across me and suddenly grabbed my right breast and walked away. I was with my girlfriends, really really embarassed, humiliated! Damn!
I’m still soooo angry when I remember all of this stuff!
When I was 17, waiting for my boyfriend to pick me up in the school’s gate, this old guy (around 50 yrs old or more) came and stood up beside me about 1.5 meters apart. I didn’t care anything about it, he didn’t do anything that would upset me. Until he suddenly did something, which I didn’t realize for about 2 minutes. I got the feeling that he’s up to something no good at all. That’s when I took a gaze at him, what I found out? He was .. you know.. playing with his “P” /*in **the public*/, standing up, and starin’ at me. I TOTALLY FREAKED OUT and ran away ASAP and hid where I found my seniors there. Once when I walked down the street with my sister at about 11 AM, Sunday, two guys riding motorcycle with black leather jackets grabbed my sister’s bum. She suddenly shouted and run after them,”Asshole! You *GO TO HELL*!!” Still, the guys were laughing at both of us. But they speed up their moto and ran away. Cowards. I was surprised. My very calm sister was actually braver than I was.
People in my city mostly mobilize themselves by motorcycles, and a lot of guys show their “P” in the public and wave the “P” while they\’re still driving the motorcycle (slowly)- to the female streetwalkers, mostly to teenage girls, while laughing and smiling jerkily. Or they would come across with cars to the houses where a lot of girls are hanging out or cleaning the yard, and ask,”Miss..” and when the girls looked at them, they will open the car\’s door, show their “P”s- and then ran away.
I really really really HATE any kinds of street harassment!! Don’t you? I think those who do that, are the brainless, witless, heartless creature who don’t respect their moms – coming out of nowhere and harassing females. Don’t they think that their moms are females? What’s in their mind? What if their beloved girls/women experience harassment?!
Thx. One day I’ll visit NYC.
written by Naomi.
So I was walking down the street in my Tribeca neighborhood, minding my own businees, listening to my ipod, pondering the beauty of this wonderful life and stuck in bewilderment as to why it was close to 70 degrees in November when I hear a faint “Hey.” I look around to see where the noise was coming from and find the voice echoing from a car stuck at a light. I take out one of my headphones to hear this man say again, “hey” and wave. I think, maybe I know this person so I wave back. At second glance, I realize the man is a total stranger so I put my headphone back in my ear and walk on… He drives up next to me and starts to shout again and I think “who is this guy?” He motions, “Come here.” So being the curious, yearning for as many experiences as possible person that I am, I walk up to his car. He opens the door and says, “get in.” I say, “No, you’re a stranger…that’s weird.” He says, “Come on, what’s the big deal.” I say, ” I don’t know you, I’m not going to get in your car…besides I have a boyfriend.” He says, “That doesn’t matter. I just want to talk to you.” I laugh and say, “Sorry, I have to go.” I walk off. He pulls his car over and parks and walks on after me. “Do you have something to do?” he says. “Yes, I have lots I have to do.” Meanwhile, I think showtime, finally I get to holla back (ever since this website started I’ve been waiting to be harassed, but people have only been kind, with their usual “Hey beautiful” – nothing that warrants a holla-ing- in my opinion). So I grab my phone and slyly try to take his picture. “Why are you trying to take my picture?” Busted. “I’m not trying to take your picture. Do you want me to take your picture?” “Do you want to take my picture?” he asks. “Sure,” I say. “What are you going to do with it?” “Just have it on my phone, I guess” (and then post it on a website so everyone can see you sucka!)…Anyway, he ended up walking me almost to my apartment and kept asking me for my number. I kept saying, “It’s nothing personal, but there is no point. If you call, I’m just going to either avoid your call or tell you that I don’t have time to hang out so I might as well save you the trouble now and tell you that I’m not interested.” Still, when i said goodbye, he asked, “When I’m going to see you again?” I said, “Maybe on the silver screen…” Then he gave me an uncomfortably long hug goodbye and said, “But I find you so attractive” to which I replied, “Well take one long last look” and walked away.
[weird shred of foresight: as i walked from the subway stop to the museum, i thought, "hmm, just in case anything holla back worthy happens, i have my camera with me."]
a tall, well-dressed, probably thirty-something man, however, apparently had different ideas for me.
seconds after i got through the line where my card was scanned, he appeared at my side.
“excuse me, hello, i saw you in de lobby and i was very curious. i just wanted to introduce myself. so, where are you from?”
[tell me it isn't weird to say you want to introduce yourself and subsequently NOT introduce yourself in favor of asking a somewhat off question]
at this point i’m walking, not quite knowing what to say to get him to bug off, and he’s staying glued to my side. the whole time i was thinking, TAKE A PICTURE TAKE A PICTURE TAKE A PICTURE.
“ummmm…” i began, and made a break for the escalator.
“i was very interested, i just wanted to introduce myself,” he repeated.
“that’s okay,” i muttered, and maneuvered my way around the mob in front of me. at this point, my heart began to race. i knew he was following me. no sooner did i make it to the top of the escalator than he was right behind me again.
“you don’t have to be so rude,” he said, obviously frustrated. “i just wanted to ask you some things.”
[thought: i'm rude, yet you're chasing me through the f*cking museum and still trying desperately to talk to me]
“i don’t want to answer anything!!” i announced, and, without knowing where i was going, just hightailed it away from this freak as quickly as i could. i arrived at the line into the café, thinking, “shyt shyt i’m cornered he’s going to follow me.”
from behind me i heard him yell something about how i was “SO STUPID!!!!”
[i'm stupid, yet he needed me to spell out that i wanted nothing to do with him...after making a clear attempt to escape]
i was shaking. i wanted to cry. i stood at the window that overlooked the sculpture garden and considered calling someone to come join me, just in case i should run into him again. i was terrified that he would be waiting back near the escalators when i decided to leave the café area.
fortunately, i didn’t see him again. i’ve never been truly afraid of a harasser before. thinking about this makes me angry. of all the places this can happen in the city, you’d think it’d be just slightly less likely in an art museum.
maybe next time i’ll have the guts to snap a photo.