Sexual Harassment in the Supermarket

October 14, 2007

I guess I should explain my offhand remark about having to spend part of Friday afternoon at the police station, huh? Okay, here goes.

Thursday night, after she got out of work, Rebecca stopped at a grocery store to buy soup. She had just walked over to a self-checkout line when an employee called her over. (She knew he was an employee because he was wearing a store shirt.) Becca thought he was going to tell her something about the self-checkout line, so she went over to find out what he wanted.

Boy was she in for a surprise. A very unpleasant one. What he wanted had nothing to do with checking out groceries. He was checking HER out.

This man looked Rebecca up and down and said, “Mmm, you’re thick as hell.” Although he said this appreciatively, Rebecca was most definitely not flattered. First of all, such behavior is just plain creepy. Secondly, most women do not want to be reminded that they are carrying extra weight.

Rebecca turned and walked back to the self-checkout aisle. Mr. Creepy followed her. He placed the six pack of beer he had been carrying on the conveyor belt, right next to the scanner, which meant that Becca had to reach over his beer to place her items on the conveyor belt after scanning them. Mr. Creepy stood extremely close to her, and looked at her in a way that made her feel violated. She felt blocked in and trapped, and started to shake.

Rebecca intentionally avoided eye contact with this man. Instead of looking at him, she stared at the checkout screen. Any normal person would have known by her body language that she wanted to be left alone. Mr. Creepy, however, demanded that she look at him so he could see her beautiful eyes.

He asked her age. Rebecca told him that she is twenty years old. (Because he was standing so close to her, she was afraid that he would hurt her if she refused to answer. She said she kept thinking of the boy who died after being stabbed in a parking lot a few months ago.)

After Becca told Mr. Creepy her age, he said, “Damn. I have kids older than you.” (This would make him at least forty.) He then went on to ask, “What’s the legal age for us to have sex? Is it 21?” Rebecca knows that the age of consent is younger than 21, but she agreed that it was, in hopes that the man would stop bothering her.

But Mr. Creepy was not to be discouraged. He said, “No, I don’t think that’s right. Let me ask somebody else.” He turned to another employee at the next register. While he was asking his question, Rebecca caught the eye of another employee. She mouthed, “Help me,” but the employee didn’t understand.

Mr. Creepy turned his attention back to Rebecca and asked her to give him a ride home. She said no. He angrily asked, “What do you mean, no?” Becca replied that she doesn’t give rides to strangers. He said, “I only live a couple of blocks from here.” Rebecca repeated that she doesn’t give rides to strangers. Mr. Creepy said, “If I do anything, you can tell on me.” Becca later told me that the way he said those words made her believe that he would indeed do something to her.

Mr. Creepy was distracted by something, and Rebecca was able to walk away. At that point, the employee she had tried to alert realized that something was wrong (the look on Rebecca’s face must have clued her in). She hurried over to Becca and asked if she was okay. Rebecca said no, and started to cry. The employee called a manager, who asked Becca if she would write up a report of what had happened so they could use it to terminate Mr. Creepy.

Apparently, during his shift (he had just gone off-duty when Rebecca arrived), he had disappeared for forty minutes. They suspected that he was drinking on the job. This suspicion was confirmed when another employee admitted that he actually saw Mr. Creepy drinking an alcoholic beverage. Furthermore, yet another employee came forward and said that Mr. Creepy had made inappropriate remarks to her.

Why Mr. Creepy wasn’t sent home after that is beyond my comprehension, and, in my opinion, increases the store’s liability for what happened to Rebecca. They knew an employee was drinking while at work, yet didn’t do anything about it. If they had, Rebecca wouldn’t have had to endure such a traumatic experience.

Because I was asleep when Rebecca got home, I didn’t become aware of the situation until Friday. I spoke to one of the attorneys Daniel works for, and was advised that it would be a good idea for Becca to file a police report, just to have the incident on record. (Rebecca doesn’t want to press charges because she is afraid of retaliation.) Ms. Attorney also recommended that we ask the police to find out if Mr. Creepy had been terminated, so Rebecca wouldn’t have to avoid the supermarket out of fear of running into this man again.

She and I went to the police station Friday afternoon. After taking Rebecca’s statement, the officer called the grocery store. He was told that Mr. Creepy would be fired upon his arrival, and banned from the premises, but he had not yet shown up for work.

So, that’s the story.

Before:

After:

Song of the Day: Lost in the Supermarket  by The Clash

“I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily”

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14 Responses to “Sexual Harassment in the Supermarket”

  1. Oh my God, poor Rebecca! It’s good that you reported him both to the store and to the police. My heart goes out to her and I’m hugging the both of you. I know from experience how hard it is to deal with that kind of assault — and it was definitely assault.

  2. Melanie said

    Wow! Thank goodness she was willing to file a report. Most women in this situation wouldn’t, and he would go right on doing what he’s been doing. Good for Rebecca for doing the right thing.

  3. Rebecca is doing the right thing. She is brave. There are so many creeps out there that never get reported.

  4. Jim said

    Good for you & Rebecca!

    There are a bunch of freaks and predators out there and it is as wise to watch out for them as if they were dogs foaming at the mouth.

  5. Kim said

    What a horrible situation! She should definitely report it. He was completely out of line, and gross to boot. Eeeew. BTW, that’s my favorite Clash song there.

  6. Pam L said

    Good for Rebecca and good for you. That would be creepy at any age, but way too much for a twenty year old to deal with alone. I can’t imagine this was the first time this happened with that guy and I wonder why no one ever did anything about it before, like the employee who saw him drinking on the job and said nothing. Hopefully this will be the end of it for Rebecca.

  7. Bex said

    Bravo to you and Rebecca. I wouldn’t be brave enough to frequent that same store any longer though, I’d have to find another one. That guy should be locked up somewhere.

  8. kitchenlogic said

    Poor Rebecca! God! Every woman needs to know that if a man is making her uncomfortable, she should never be afraid to make a scene by saying loudly and firmly, “I don’t like how you’re speaking to me, I want you to move away from me and not speak to me again!” She did the right thing. Good for her!

  9. Holly said

    Yikes.. I’m glad she is pressing charges however, otherwise Mr. Creepy will continue on and just go after someone else, as they don’t stop until they are forced to stop. But I agree with KLo. Speak up and speak loud to call everyone’s attention to his behavior. She did nothing wrong, Mr. Creepy did. {{{hugs}}} I hope they throw the book at Mr. Creepy.

  10. goatbarnwitch said

    Super creepy. I hope the weirdo disappears into thin air. Rebecca did all the right things in a very freaky situation *hugs* to you both.

  11. Michael said

    What a horror story. No woman of any age should have to endure that kind of unwanted attention. I do think the store is liable, because they didn’t terminate the guy (or at least send him home) as soon as they knew he was drinking on the job.

  12. Joan said

    Oh my God! That is so horrible for her! That store should be held responsible also ’cause I bet this wasn’t the first time this has happened with this jerk. Tell her we’ll all thinking about her and sending good vibes her way.

  13. LA said

    Ugh. Ugh. Ugh! Thank goodness the police and the store are willing to listen and do something. Many’s the time crap like that happened to me (boobs = creep magnets) and I was told to laugh it off or stop being so sensitive. Sheesh. Poor kid, she’s going to be long getting past this. Lots of non-creepy hugs from a fellow target. ~LA

  14. Sunday said

    Oh, HELL no! I’ve been in that situation more times than I care to think about. Once, I wacked the guy with the heel of my clog (he was higher than a kite, and didn’t seem to notice that I was sliding my foot out of my shoe), the other, I told him that I’d just gotten out of the hospital with a particularly infectious strain of AIDS. Poor taste, yes, but it shut his ass down.

    GAH! That makes me angry because he was drunk (drinking on the premises?!) and just. didn’t. get. it. The fact that the young man had been stabbed earlier certainly didn’t help things…then again, if SHE had resorted to violence, that would’ve made things worse. I am soooo happy she pressed charges, though, instead of going after Charles Bronson-type justice. Sometimes you just have to know when to live by the letter of the law.

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