Most women know that guy - the one that makes you want to walk the other way when you see them coming. We often try to be nice and give them a fair chance but sometimes it just gets to be too much. When is enough, enough? One woman, Lucy, dealt with this dilemma to the extreme when a customer - known to be a little creepy - took a shine to her. Lucy (not her real name)shared her story on Reddit to tell how things came to a head between her and this creepy customer. Did she let things go too far? Or was she just doing her job?
It all began like any other retail job. Lucy had moved in with her boyfriend in a new town. She was between jobs so she decided she would make some money working at a garden center. It started off great. The pay was fair, the environment was casual, and she could wear whatever she wanted - with the exception of a uniform polo. Not to mention, it was just a short walk to work - the perfect commute - and she got to meet a lot of great new people! However, as she goes on to explain, she also met some not-so-great people.
Most of her customers were sweet and she loved waiting on them. She even had a few in particular that she gave nicknames to since they were such great regulars, like "pink hair lady." She was a punk 80-year-old grandma who wore a leather jacket and, as you probably guessed, rocked pink hair! There was also the couple she labeled "the campervan couple." This hippie couple drove, of course, a campervan that was painted with bright orange flowers. So, as you can see, this store has its fair share of eclectic clientele. Most of them were harmless, cool even, but the exception to this was Dan aka The Creepy Artist Guy.
Dan gave all the young girls who worked at the store a weird vibe. Lucy noticed that he always wore an odd outfit that included a straw hat, gold-rimmed glasses, and one of an assortment of graphic tees with a picture of a scantily-clad woman on it, occasionally the shirts had the added detail of a lewd slogan. His jeans regularly had giant holes in them. Through the holes, Lucy could see that his legs were caked in mud or paint. He had an unsettling half-smile constantly plastered across his face and would leer at girls in a way that sent an instant chill down their spine. His creepiest habit was taking off his glasses and cleaning the lenses with his shirt; Lucy noted that it made her "feel like he was trying to get a better look at the girls who worked there - especially the younger ones." Now at this point, it could just be that Dan is a misunderstood eclectic. He is an artist apparently, and many artists are misunderstood. But, everything Lucy has noticed about him so far came before he met her.
The disastrous year started on the day Lucy offered to water the flowers outside. She remembers it seemed like the best task at the time because she "could avoid the humid sweaty heat of the greenhouses." She mentions that she was wearing black shorts, her red uniform polo, and her tool belt. She was "enjoying the solitary job in the quietest part of the garden," wearing her sunglasses and watering the flowers. That's when Dan approached her for the first time. Every woman knows that moment - quietly minding your own business when BAM! Some guy shows up and interrupts everything in an attempt to hit on you. That's exactly how it started with Dan.
Dan had appeared out of nowhere as he marched up to Lucy and greeted her with, "Oh hello there!" He smiled his uncomfortable smile while he looked Lucy up and down. As she grew uneasy, she asked if she could help him find anything. Without a word, he just continued to look at her while shrugging and shaking his head to say no. She began to walk away as she said, "Okay sir, have a nice day. Let me know if you need anything!" That's when he stopped her to continue their bizarre conversation.
"I've never seen you here before. You're a new one.", Dan said innocently enough.
"Huh? Me? Well, I've been here for 8 months now," Lucy replied.
His comments started to take a creepier turn. "I must have missed the memo that a beauty like you started. You have a nice tan! You look young!"
"Uh, thanks, I'm 23. Anyways, I have to get back to work."
"Nice to meet you, Lucy!"
Lucy immediately questioned how he knew her name, but then she remembered her name tag. She was instantly worried that he knew her full name. Maybe at this point, she should've voiced her concern to management but he just seemed like a slightly creepy dude. How could she have known just how far it would go? Instead, she hid out in the toolshed claiming to be looking for different gloves. By the time she reemerged, Dan had left. Crisis averted, right?
Wrong. He continued to come into the store regularly. No big deal - he was a frequent shopper. What was strange, however, was that he somehow always managed to come in during Lucy's shifts. She was usually the only cashier so she had to wait on him. Was he coming in just to see her? It sure seemed like it. He would come in almost every day and buy the smallest, most pointless things - some wire here, a tiny bag of bird seed there. Lucy thought the whole reason he was really there was to be able to talk to her. Dan would make comments about her appearance every time he saw her. From, "Your hair is different today, you wore it down yesterday," to "That's a different lip color from the one you wore yesterday." Lucy felt uncomfortable but since she was just 23 years old and a little naive, she tried to simply shrug it off - she didn't want to cause any problems. Yes, she felt awkward about it but it really didn't seem like that big of a deal. It wasn't until Christmastime that things really started to escalate.
Lucy was decorating the artificial Christmas trees in the back of the store in the area the staff called "the forest." Dan jumped out from behind one of the trees, startling Lucy so bad, she dropped one of the delicate glass ornaments she was carrying and it shattered on the floor. All of the sudden Dan had her cornered her in the "forest" of fir trees. When she bent down to pick up the broken glass, he tightly grabbed hold of her wrist and warned her not to cut herself. Lucy freed herself from his "clammy and gross" grasp and asked, as politely as she could, whether he needed help with anything.
According to Lucy, "that's when it got weird," as if it wasn't already.
Dan pulled a small flier from his back pocket. He explained that he was an artist and said he would really like for Lucy to come to his Christmas art show. He told her all about how he was a painter and how he believed Lucy would really love his artwork. She had never told him, or anyone at work for that matter, about her interest in art so she found this very odd. Lucy, trying to diffuse the situation, lightheartedly asked if Dan wanted her to pin his flier to the community events board. That's when Dan reached out, touched Lucy's arm, and said, "No, the invitation is specifically for you." As he said this, he pointed at her and poked her in the chest with his finger. Lucy's mind raced as she realized she was in a dark cornered, obscured from view by the trees, with Dan.
She squeezed past him and as she quickly walked away, she said, "I'm busy with my boyfriend that day, sorry!" She immediately informed a few of her coworkers about what had just happened. They all promised they would warn her the next time they saw him come in, that way she could hide in the storeroom until he left. For many people, this may have been the last straw and they would go to management. But as a young woman, Lucy felt she had to put up with quite a bit of Dan's behavior. She didn't want to be seen as a problem. Unfortunately, telling her coworkers was not enough because the message did not make its way to the seasonal holiday staff.
One day, one of the temporary staff came up to Lucy and said, "Your friend is asking for you at the front." Expecting to see one of her actual friends or her boyfriend's mom, Lucy headed for the front of the store. That's when she saw Dan. He was standing there sheepishly, holding a piece of paper. He handed the folded up paper to Lucy and asked her to open it. When she did, she was absolutely shocked by what she saw.
It was a sketch of her. In the drawing, she was watering the flowers just like she had been on the day she met Dan. The drawing had an exaggerated figure, cartoonish large eyes, and was standing in a scandalous position. Lucy handed it back to him and said, "Thank you, but I don't think it's appropriate for me to accept gifts at work." Dan looked at her with an angry stare as he grabbed his drawing back. He silently turned around and headed out the door. By this point, Lucy couldn't take it anymore. She knew she had to act before this situation became any worse.
She walked into her manager's office and filled him in on all of the crazy interactions she had with Dan over the last year. He looked back at the CCTV footage and agreed that it was totally weird that Dan had given Lucy that gross picture. The manager praised Lucy for how she had handled the situation and said next time Dan came in, he would handle it.
The next day was Sunday and Lucy's day off. But her manager called her and asked her to come in. Her manager had received a call from corporate stating that an anonymous source had complained that Lucy had inappropriately flirted with him. Of course, it was Dan. He told them that Lucy had offered to sleep with him, that she had "lead him on," and been "obviously promiscuous." According to Dan, Lucy had been pursuing him for the last year! Dan even told them the details of a relationship he claims to have had with Lucy and claimed that she was cheating on her boyfriend with him. He ranted loudly for a while before corporate hung up on him. They wanted to inform Lucy that they thought it would be best for her to file a report with the police. Turns out, Dan had a history.
When Lucy filed her police report, the officer told her that Dan matched the description of a local pest who often harasses young girls. He had also been accused of following girls in his car and had apparently attempted to abduct one of them. Lucy was told to call the police if Dan ever came to the store or anywhere near her again. When Dan sent her a long, ranting letter asking her to "take him back" and threatening to kill himself if she didn't, she contacted the police and he was arrested.
Often, young women worry about reporting harassment in the workplace because they fear they will be considered a troublemaker by their employers. Many are also afraid they will somehow be blamed for what happened - just like Dan tried to place the blame on Lucy. These are some of the reasons so many women, like Lucy, wait so long before making a complaint. Did Lucy handle this situation correctly? How far would it have gone if Dan hadn't been arrested? Hopefully, that final rambling note is the last Lucy will ever hear from Dan.
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