Although there were a number of problems that I could discuss here, the main one was this: our store was a block and a half away from the state fairgrounds which would, for four months out of the year, be converted into a massive homeless shelter. This brought a certain type of person into our store and a special set of problems. Like, what do we do about the used hypodermic needle in the bathroom? And, what do we do about the bums fighting in our parking lot? And also, what do we do about the man IN A SLEEPING BAG sleeping on the floor in the biography section?
I say this to put the crux of my story in its proper context: about six years ago, a schizophrenic homeless male tweaker became obsessed with me.
He would come in two to three times a week. He would smell. He would never buy anything. He would sit near where I was working. He wouldn't even pretend to read anything. He'd just sit there and stare at me and whisper things to himself. Eventually he got bolder and started asking me nonsensical questions as an excuse to rub up against me or touch my hair or even smell me. He loved smelling me.
I felt threatened. Once he waited for me in the parking lot and tried walking up to me. Thankfully I had earbuds on and pretended I didn't hear him yelling for me, plus I was quick and he was fairly far away, so I was able to dart into my car and drive off before anything happened.
It was a paranoid time for me. It was shortly after the robbery that happened in the store, so I was jumpy and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, so having a strange homeless stalker wanting to touch me and feel my face made me frightened to come to work because I didn't know what I would have to deal with.
Eventually, however, the guy stopped coming around and I was safe.
Here's the thing, tho ...
Everyone I talked to, from my fellow employees to the managers whose job it was to protect me, they ALL thought it was funny and laughed me off.
Even the store manager, whom I will call "Mr. P", even he chuckled. I remember he said "How cute." That's what he said.
Now, if I was a WOMAN?
OH MY GAWD if I was a woman THENNNNN I would have been taken seriously! There would be incidents reports, security would have been called, hell, POLICE probably would have been called. Because a woman being sexually harassed repeatedly by a strange homeless man? THAT IS SERIOUS!
But a MAN has that happen and it's all just a big fucking joke.