I jumped from one fire to end up in another. I quit my “other” job on Tuesday after a situation that can only be explained as fucked up. Though I won’t go into great detail, I can tell you that a salesman we’ll call Dick, created such a hostile work environment that I was actually worried about my safety.
Dick came into my office last week hostile and visibly upset. He closed the distance between us quickly, red-faced and wide-eyed, and stated, “I knew I couldn’t trust you.” Mind you, Dick was standing up and I was sitting down with less than 10 feet of distance between us. Confused, I told him I didn’t understand what he meant. He went on to explain that he couldn’t trust telling me anything because it found its way “to the top” because of a friendship of mine. I told Dick I’d never mentioned names and he was taking this too personally. He seemed to accept this answer and was calming down. Well that’s when Dick decided to be a dick.
He went to my office door, pulling it shut, and said, “I’m not buying it!” Confused ,I of course, asked, “buying what?” He replied with, “that your gay, I’m not buying it.” WTF?? Seriously. My mind turned to mush, as I’d never dealt with this situation before. “Ok, you don’t have to buy it Dick, I’m not here to prove anything,” is what I responded with. He then went on to say that he wasn’t buying it because he felt like “there is something between us.” Oh wow, could this get any worse? I went on to explain that it was a working relationship and nothing more. Dick then informed me that his sister was gay. Now my mind was trying to switch gears. How do we go from flat-out sexual harassment to a conversation about his gay sister? Dick then said the gay community “hated” his sister because of a child custody law suit.
Let me explain quickly. I have a dear friend, KLJ, who lost custody of her daughter because bio mom felt it was appropriate to take her away from KLJ (non-bio mom). Prior to this court case I didn’t know KLJ, it was the day that the Utah Supreme Court took away KLJ’s rights as a mom that I met her. I called her, not knowing her, bawling and told her I’d hold her hand through hell to make sure she could hold that little girl again. Since that call, I’m proud to call KLJ a friend.
Ok, back to the harassment by Dick. So I interrupt Dick and ask him he it was the lawsuit with KLJ. He stops, stunned and says yes. I tell him how I know KLJ and that I think she deserves rights to her daughter. Well Dick disagrees, because he went on to tell me that “god created man and woman to procreate.” Wow, sex and religion in one conversation? This guy couldn’t get anymore offensive! He begins to tell me that all children need a father …. I’m sure you’re getting the jest of this conversation.
Did I forget to mention that the week prior Dick was talking about suicide due to his financial situation? In true negotiator fashion I explained to him why this wasn’t a solution and would be harming his family more. Let’s just say Dick isn’t stable in the mental department.
Needless to say I filed a complaint. I wrote my report (something I’m really used too) and turned it in. Dick got suspended pending investigation. When he got suspended all I could think about is how Dick made those suicidal statements. If he lost his job he’d have nothing to lose by taking me out before his suicidal plan. I included these concerns in my report to HR. I spoke with supervisors and HR and quite frankly I was stunned at the line of questioning. “Do you have any witnesses to your conversation?” “Why didn’t you call out for help?” “You could have dialed 911.”
Maybe it’s my years of Law Enforcement training, but you don’t call 911 for sexual harassment. You don’t have to scream out for help … what I’ve been taught is to defuse the situation and then take action. That’s exactly what I did. I talked Dick down and the moment he relaxed (by sitting down and no longer blocking my escape route) I stood up, grabbed my jacket and went outside to make a phone call to Rizzi.
Though there has been no determination on Dick’s return to work, I just couldn’t seem to get over the fact that they would even consider keeping this guy. HR informed me that if he stayed they’d make every effort to keep him away from me. Uh, yeah, the office is small, there is NO way they could guarantee me not running into him. So … I quite. NO job is worth your piece of mind or safety. And though I hope I didn’t burn a bridge with a friend who helped me get the job, I really couldn’t drive up the canyon with that much anxiety.