I owe noone an explanation when I say, “That guy gives me the creeps.” Noone, especially not female coworkers or friends. If I say, “He gives me the creeps”, fellow women should circle the wagons. Noone – especially not another woman – should say, “But he seems nice to me.” Or – “I know him, he’s O.K.” Or – “Why does he give you the creeps?”
Yet, I just experienced this very reaction from several women when I mentioned that a certain schmoozy salesman who comes into my office gives me the creeps. I don’t like him, plain and simple. I have to be professional and engage him in conversation, but I am not required to like him or to trust him, and I am fully entitled to my little red flags.
This guy bugs me. He’s schmoozy. He leans on the counter and talks like he’s my best friend. He’s even taken his wife to one of my favorite pubs in the hopes that he’d meet up with my husband and I – and he openly admitted it. I don’t want to meet him in a public place, and I don’t want him to meet my husband.
I told my husband about him, and he did not ask me why I didn’t like this guy, He just accepted it. He knows I have Very.Good.Radar. He doesn’t want anyone elbowing in on our private dates, either, especially not a schmoozy salesman. Not everyone likes schmooze.
I am baffled by the women in my office: why would they question my reaction? Why did they not circle the wagons? What is missing in their make-up that doesn’t give them creep radar or makes them unappreciative of other women’s creep radar? What dangerous situations have they never been exposed to?
I taught my kids to trust their gut instincts. Yes, you might be wrong to judge someone on your first impression, but – and that’s a huge BUT – as a woman, you’re a fool not to trust that first impression. You have that instinct for a reason. “Better to be wrong than to be raped or dead,” I told the girls. “Because then you’re really wrong.”
My gut instinct, my red-flag warning system, my first impression warning siren – whatever you want to call it – has saved me countless times. I probably don’t even know all of the times that I felt a nudge to walk another way, or I switched my keys to my right hand, or I decided not to walk a certain direction, or I took note of what cars were where and license plates. I can tell you tales of the close calls that I do know of, many of which were during my solo trip across the USA by bus.
I can also tell you about circling the wagons, drawing in and protecting each other. That’s how women should react, and how male friends should react. Don’t laugh it off. Don’t make light of it. Protect.
I had a coworker many years ago, C. She told me of this guy who happened to work in the same company, and she found out quite by accident that he was an agent there. She was scared of him. She’d had a relationship with him, a short-lived one. He was in a different office, but the time came when he walked into our office. I sent C. to another room and I handled him, helped him out, and sent him on his way.
There was another guy who liked to harass C. at the front desk. Your typical womanizer, didn’t like strong women and was always on the lookout to bully. I saw him in action, and never was a time when I let her handle him by herself. Not that she wasn’t capable (she’s fully capable and has good creep radar), but there’s strength in numbers, and she shouldn’t have to deal with that by herself. United we stand. Divided, we fail each other.
I was on a night bus to Cleveland. I was 20 years old, traveling alone, only a backpack and a few dollars to my name. I had no agenda, no particular destination. There was a man sitting near the front of the bus. I can’t tell you what it was about him that bothered me, but I had a Very.Bad.Feeling about him. And when the bus pulled into the Cleveland terminal, I wondered how I was going to avoid him? It was crowded, no one knew me, it would be so simple…
A weathered old Black woman who sat a row or two ahead of me grabbed my hand as I got off the bus. “You come to the bathroom with me. I’ll stay with you until he’s gone,” she said in a fierce whisper. That was all. Inside the restroom, she dropped pretenses of friendship or kinship. We were just two women who needed to pee. I was a very white girl and she left it at that. (I would have hugged her if I had been prone to hugging in those days – but she wasn’t having any of that, anyway. She just wanted me safe off that bus and out of his hunting eyes.)
That’s what we do, Girlfriends! Guy friends! We protect each other!
Another friend told me how, when a daughter of hers was working in an office and picked up a stalker, her office sent out a memo. Every time the stalked came in, she went on break and someone else was at the front desk. They circled the wagons.
That wouldn’t work in my office, where I am the only one there. And I’m not asking for that kind of support, because this creep is married and talks about his wife. He’s just trying to schmooze his way into my private life, meet my husband, and – theoretically – get more business from our office. I just want my coworkers and brokers to understand that it is not a joke.
Someone says they get the creeps from someone, you take it seriously. You don’t question their creep radar, even if you think they are mistaken. Because you don’t know they are mistaken. The creep may not bother you. Their fixation is on someone else. You need to trust your friend’s intuition.
Note: this is not just for women. Men need to take note. Trust your friend’s instinct.
Trust your gut feeling. Always.
P.S. – I will be fine with this guy. He hasn’t crossed any line and if he does, he’ll find out I am not such a nice person after all. And if he does happen to show up at the same place as my husband and me, well, I will kick Hubby under the table and we will circle the wagons. I just want other women to know that it is not cool to question someone’s creep radar. Ever.