To Mr. Security Guard: My Smile Is Not An Invitation to Harrass Me
I walked into United Provisions, a local grocery store, speaking in a phony British accent, cracking up about it with my friend.
Just a typical night for us.
As we walked in, I glanced to my left and noticed Mr. Security Guard, to whom I politely smiled. He asked me how I was, and I replied, “Doing well, sir,” *read with an alright-kind-of-bad British accent.*
But, I thought nothing of the encounter as we continued into the store.
Walking up and down the aisles, we were on cloud nine. Giddy with excitement, trying to find the perfect snacks for our impromptu road trip to Chicago. Bougie popcorn, check! Cheetos, check!
Hmmm….What else did we need?
As I glanced around the aisles, looking for the perfect snack to complete our buy, my eyes fell upon Mr. Security Guard, who had abandoned his post at the entrance and somehow meandered over to us .
However, as I looked into his eyes, I realized his eyes were not staring back into mine.
Instead, they were staring at my thighs. Giving him the benefit of the doubt he doesn’t deserve, and to keep things PG, we can just say he was staring at my thighs.
Uncomfortable, but not quite ready to make a scene, I engaged in polite, albeit awkward, conversation.
“Where are you from?” Mr. Security Guard asked.
“St. Louis,” I replied, despite maintaining my fake British accent.
“Okay, what are you doing here?” He persisted, as I tried to slyly back away.
“I’m studying at Wash U, I’m majoring in Women Gender Sexuality Studies.”
“Oh, what’s that? The study of what a woman wants? You probably know a lot about women having sex.”
*Internally barfs here.*
After this comment, I glanced to my friend to make sure she was taking all of this insanity in, as well.
“No, actually. That’s not what I’m studying at all. But have a nice night.”
I felt that was a clear way of saying goodbye, our conversation is now officially over. Forever.
As we perused the aisles further, looking for the perfect cider, we stumbled once again upon our “good ole friend” Mr. Security Guard.
To be quite frank with you, I cannot exactly remember what he said at this point, I just remember doing my best to ignore him, and speak only to my friend.
As we made our way to the check-out counter, to no surprise, he followed us. We began to engage with the cashier, who was very much not creepy and very nice. Mr. Security Guard seemed a bit peeved by the attention we were giving the cashier and not him.
As we checked out, I ignored his requests to grab a drink. My friend and I did our best to pretend he wasn’t there at all, and talked solely with the cashier.
The cashier was so nice in fact, that him and my friend ended up hitting it off. They exchanged numbers, and Mr. Security Guard seemed to feel that since his friend had gotten a number, then it was his turn.
I blatantly lied and said I did not have a telephone, as I held my phone in my hand. While we did our best to exit the store, he followed us out of the store and about 15 feet down the sidewalk.
All the while trying to explain that he deserved one of our phone numbers, and all the while we continued to tell him to leave us alone.
Eventually, we told him, if he didn’t stop following us, we would scream. To which he laughed, seeming to think we were kidding. But, we were definitely not kidding, and began to scream at the top of our lungs.
Mr. Security Guard, either getting the picture or fearing the attention our screams would bring, stopped following us.
And here, friends, I would like to make a side note. If you notice that someone is in an unsafe situation. Please step in. Please do your best to help in a way that keeps you and them safe. You could approach them, and pretend to be a friend, and walk with them till they’ve reached their destination. You can call the police. You could start dancing and cause a surprising distraction. There are a lot of things you can do. But, please, for the love of Mother Nature, do not do what the bystander men who were watching did: laugh.
After screaming at the top of our lungs and finally feeling safe, my friend and I enjoyed a lovely dinner. We quickly forgot about Mr. Security Guard and began to again discuss our road trip.
After dinner, we began walking back to our car.
As we walked, we realized that we were going to have to pass the grocery store. As we got closer, we saw a figure standing outside of the door, to which we both stopped and contemplated if we should take a different way to the car.
At this point, another man walked by us. I thought maybe if we walked with another person Mr. Security Guard wouldn’t feel so entitled to our attention.
Even better, it seemed that Mr. Security Guard would respect a man more than he did us.
Quickly weighing the risks of engaging with another man we didn’t know, or risking walking to our car alone and passing Mr. Security Guard, we asked the stranger for his help. To which, he was happy to provide. He even kindly, grabbed some of the groceries we were holding.
My friend, the social butterfly she is, began to talk to the guy who was walking with us. All the while, I could only think about how we were approaching Mr. Security Guard.
And, apparently, that’s all he could think about too because as soon as we were in his vicinity he took the opportunity to talk to me once more.
While my friend was exchanging contact information with our new friend, Mr. Security Guard asked me where we had gone for dinner. When I told him, he said he had never been there.
“You should try it sometime,” I said, trying to emphasize that I would not be joining.
“We should grab a drink sometime,” he replied, ignoring what I had just said.
At this point I knew it was very obvious to him that I was not interested, and I also knew that these details did not matter to him.
But, just to drive things home, I said “I’m not interested.”
Let’s pause here for a second. Are you ready, folks? This is where his audacity goes through the roof.
After flat out telling him I wasn’t interested he replied, “I don’t care if you’re not interested,” and took an intimidating step closer, while looking me up and down.
“It’s my job to make you interested.”
At this point, I was stunned. Shook, I tell you. He could not have just said what I thought he said.
I tapped my friend and interrupted her conversation to tell her the nonsense this fool had just spewed.
As he watched me tell her, he interrupted to say, “What am I harassing you now?” As if that’s not exactly what he was doing.
Beyond my limit of patience, I replied, “If it hasn’t been clear yet, let me make it official. Leave me alone, and if you don’t you will now from this point on be harassing me. And I will call the police.”
To which the high and mighty Mr. Security Guard replied, “The police? I’ll arrest you myself!”
Without even thinking, and mad as hell, I said “Do it. I dare you.”
Called on his bluff, Mr. Security Guard finally slinked away.
Maybe next time, he won’t think that a smile is an invitation to harass women. Maybe next time he won’t abuse his authority as a security guard. But, better yet, maybe he won’t have that opportunity since I called the grocery store and reported him.