I work the night shift with a creepy coworker

by Ask a Manager on February 14, 2013

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A reader writes:

I work a great full-time day job, but it wasn’t paying my bills, so I took a part-time weekend position too. The weekend position involves working graveyard shifts at psychiatric residential units. Most of the time the clients are sleeping, and I work directly with one male coworker (I am female; they always schedule one of each gender). Most of my coworkers are awesome.

However, there is one who I have a regular weekly shift with. He constantly asks who I am texting (we are able to just hang out in case the residents wake up and need something, otherwise we just play around online, read books, or watch TV), who I might be emailing, etc. He always asks what I did during the weekend, and if I mention anything regarding going out with friends, he always responds with, “Did you meet any guys you like? Did you do anything with them?”

I always play it off and say my social life is pretty dull, but I’m progressively feeling less safe every week because his questions are becoming more invasive. He is asking questions about my sex life (?!), my relationship history, what I look for in someone, and even asked how much I was planning on drinking one night, and if that would be enough to make me go home with someone. He also mentions his marriage is failing on a pretty regular basis. I try to change the subject, but it doesn’t work. I try to tell him I have no social life, all I do is work, but that doesn’t seem to be doing anything either. Once I fell asleep (they’re okay with us sleeping on the couch, as long as it’s not excessive), and I woke up to him standing nearby staring at me.

I don’t want to say anything directly to him…I don’t entirely feel safe around him. And, I will continue to have a regular, weekly, graveyard shift with just the two of us. There is no HR, and our manager is incompetent. Basically, I am hoping you could give me ideas for how to help this without being direct to the point of causing a potential issue, but not subtle enough that it keeps continuing. I don’t want him to do something weird. I have started keeping my stun gun in my pocket while working. Please help.

Ugh, what an uncomfortable situation to be in, and when you’re working alone with him too.

Here’s the thing, though:  You’re looking for a solution that gets this handled without you having to be direct with anyone — him or someone in charge. And while I’m totally sympathetic to wanting that, it probably doesn’t exist. You’re going to have to say something to someone, and since he isn’t exactly presenting a safe environment for addressing it with him, talking to someone else is your best bet.

That probably means your manager, even though she’s incompetent. It’s worth noting that even incompetent people are often able to come through in situations like this … but either way, it’s a big enough deal that you have to escalate it to someone. If you absolutely can’t talk to your manager or you do and she doesn’t act, is there someone else there in a position of authority who you can talk to? Even someone beneath your manager, but with more authority than you?

Whoever you talk to, you need to tell someone with some authority that you feel unsafe working alone with this guy, and that you don’t want to be scheduled with him anymore.

You’re also probably not the only woman feeling creeped out by this guy, so you might ask other coworkers and see what their experience has been, since It would be helpful if others spoke up too.

If you speak up and nothing happens, then I’d seriously reconsider the job. The rest of your coworkers may be awesome, but the combination of a creepy dude working the night shift with you and a manager who doesn’t care that you feel unsafe is not a job to stick around at.

{ 89 comments… read them below or add one }

LM February 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm

3rd paragraph – i think you mean “worth noting”?

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Ask a Manager February 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I did! The typo there (“nothing”) really changed the meaning!

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sean February 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Hi OP,

I’m on board with Ms. Green’s advice, and add that I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. It sounds like a terrible situation.

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fposte February 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm

“Here’s the thing, though: You’re looking for a solution that gets this handled without you having to be direct with anyone — him or someone in charge. And while I’m totally sympathetic to wanting that, it probably doesn’t exist.”

A truth for so many occasions.

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AdAgencyChick February 14, 2013 at 4:40 pm

OP, yes, tell your manager — but I’d combine this with being direct with the creepy employee, too. You’ve mentioned that you change the subject or say you have no social life, but I think it’s worth actually saying to him, “That’s a personal question. I’m not going to answer that.” Being firm and direct with him may be enough to shut him up (or it might not, which is why I’d do this AND talk to my manager if it were me).

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Meg Murry February 14, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Yes, I’d pick a line like “that’s a little too personal for me, lets change the subject” and repeat as necessary. This guy doesn’t seem to get subtle. And I’d avoid sleeping on nights you work with him, just in case.

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Josh S February 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Exactly this. You don’t have to “confront” the guy or be “aggressive” to be direct. If he asks you a weird question, just say, “Wow! [hard stare with the crazy eye goes here] That’s really personal. I’m not going to answer that.” And then just shut up. It will feel awkward. That is ok.

This sets a clear boundary with the creeper in a way that changing the subject or deflecting does not.

Whether you have a dull social life or you pick up rebellious auto-mechanics at the SuperDawg for romantic flings is irrelevant — this guy’s questions would still be inappropriate and probably would still creep you out. Be clear — you don’t want to discuss this with him.

After you make a clear statement, you can be free to change the subject. But if you try to change the subject instead of being direct, you leave the door open for more crappy behavior.

People like this know (even unconsciously) that it’s uncomfortable to directly rebuff someone else’s question. It’s what lets them get away with the behavior going unchecked. Put a boundary up and stick to it, as hard as that may be.

I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

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Louise February 14, 2013 at 5:41 pm

10 points for Super Dawg reference! Is it the Chocolate Teapot of 2013?

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Josh S February 14, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I dunno, but I’m going to be working it in to every comment I can. :)

(Hi Jamie!)

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Jamie February 15, 2013 at 7:04 am

I agree with Josh – don’t be afraid of the silence after you refuse to answer something. People talk to fill the silence – it’s okay to let it lie there. It makes the point.

And someone else mentioned security – I’m confused as to what kind of facility this is as I would assume a medical facility would have more than two people on duty at any one time. Do you have a security patrol there? If so I’d go introduce myself asap, in addition to speaking with my manager.

I know the easy answer to just quit isn’t always possible – but I can’t help but thinking if this were one of my kids or one of my sisters…I’d want them out of there yesterday.

From what I understand the entire purpose is to just be there in case of emergency – so there are no normal duties to keep you all occupied? I would definitely not doze off again.

I also would be concerned about the patients there – I really think there is a moral obligation to say something even if you leave the job.

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Jen M. February 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm

They said a psychiatric residential unit. I’m guessing this is an apartment where these patients live. My condo complex had one for autistic people. It’s a residential environment, so OP and her coworkers would be basically hanging out in the living room area, if I’m right.

If it’s more like a ward, it would be a similar setup.

Think of it like housesitting for someone (on the nights when no one wakes up/there is nothing that happens.)

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Rana February 15, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I was also thinking about the patients in this situation. Having a skeevy, boundary-ignoring guy like this in charge of their welfare is not good.

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Laura February 15, 2013 at 8:58 am

If you do get direct with him — and I totally think you should, ftr — be prepared for him to act like, or possibly even say, that you are the world’s biggest bitch because he’s “just trying to be friendly/make conversation/whatever”. In my experience this is a fairly typical response from someone like the person you’ve described. Just ignore his reaction and keep reminding yourself that setting boundaries firmly and directly is absolutely within your rights and is in no way antisocial/bitchy/whatever — he’s the one with the problem, not you. Good luck!

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Anon February 15, 2013 at 9:55 am

Right! They are being creepy and when called on it, they try to make it seem like you are the one with the problem. No.

Ugh, I’m sorry OP. This is awful. Please document this stuff and report it as far up the chain as you can. And tell El Creepo to stop asking you personal questions. Gross.

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IronMaiden February 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

Unfortunately it’s a very common reaction from creeps who have been rebuffed and they can be uncomfortably passive-aggressive about it. Laura is right, ignore his reaction and maintain your boundaries.

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CoffeeLover February 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I’m such a blunt person that I’d probably just say, “Dude, knock it off and tone down the creep!” along with “I’m not telling you that! Stop asking stuff like that!” Said in the moment and in the right way usually gets the job done while minimizing the awkward.

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Becca February 14, 2013 at 5:04 pm

So your situation reminded me of some great lessons I learned from the book “Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. Listen to your gut and read this book for some good advice too :)

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Rana February 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm

+1

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Guera March 14, 2013 at 3:18 pm

That is an awesome book that every female (and male for that matter should read). I have never forgotten the lessons learned.
Having said that I would tell her to immediately stop working with this guy. She should ask to stop being scheduled with him. However, I do believe that this guy could have stalker qualities. Something does not sit well with me.

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Dana February 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I totally agree with Allison’s direct approach, however if you find you really can’t go that route you can always say something along the line of: ‘my love life hasn’t been the same since I let this syphillis go untreated for the lasts several years’. I’m pretty sure he’ll leave you alone after that.

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EM February 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Lol!! Ew.

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Ash February 15, 2013 at 8:15 am

Or do this but pick something other than syphilis, because untreated syphilis can literally make you go insane and is usually fatal.

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Jazzy Red February 15, 2013 at 9:58 am

And THAT’S why the creep wouldn’t want to catch it.

OP, no more sleeping on the job, no matter how tired you are. You might consider carrying pepper spray, too.

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jill February 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Be careful about pepper spray/any other weapons, though. Unless you’re trained on how to keep hold of it and fairly strong, the chances are pretty good, unfortunately, that an attacker could get it away from you and use it against you.

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Ash February 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm

“And THAT’S why the creep wouldn’t want to catch it.”

No duh, but someone working in a psychiatric ward should not say things that might illustrate that they themselves belong on the other side of the class.

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Pandora Amora February 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm

One technique that works really well is to answer the question, and then directly confront the questioner: “No, I’m not the kind of woman who drinks and ‘hooks up’ with random men at bars. That’s a very specific question: why did you ask it?”

There’s no need to undercut this message with a light delivery, or to diminish yourself by referring to yourself as “not that type of girl”.

His power in your relationship is currently that he can ask you increasingly personal questions without sanction. Just as you can expose racists by asking them to explain why they find a racist joke funny, you can expose this guy as a creep by asking him to explain himself.

The next time he asks such a question, you simply use his answer – or his refusal to answer – as your own answer. “Jim, this is another very specific question from you about my personal life, and you still haven’t told me why you have this level of interest in me.”

“Jim, I know you ask these types of questions because you’re ‘just curious to know me better’, but I don’t share my private life publicly.”

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A Bug! February 14, 2013 at 5:59 pm

“I’m not the kind of woman who…”

“not that type of girl”.

I fail to see the difference between these two phrases. A relatively minor nitpick, admittedly, but both of these phrases to me carry the implication that “that kind of woman” is somehow inferior (and that you’re offended at the suggestion), and since you advocate using one but not the other I’m sure I’m misunderstanding something important.

I’m fully in line with the rest of your comment, though! There’s also “Do you really think that’s an appropriate question to ask?”

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VintageLydia February 14, 2013 at 6:04 pm

There is also the implication that “that type of girl” deserves what she gets, even outside of that context. I mean, what if OP actually WAS the type to have one night stands with people? Are you implying she deserves this sort of creepy attention? I’m sure you don’t mean to, but that’s what it sounds like.

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Jamie February 15, 2013 at 8:24 am

I remember being a little kid (maybe 8) and overhearing a conversation my mom was having about a sexual assault that happened to a family member. Someone said something about X not being the kind of girl who would bring something like this on herself (paraphrasing) but I’ll remember my mom’s exact response for the rest of my life:

“I don’t care if she were walking down Michigan Avenue naked screaming that she was a nymphomaniac – NO ONE brings this on themselves!”

And if you knew my mom – probably one of the demure and gentle people you could ever meet – you’d understand the impact because yelling about nudity was definitely OOC. I may have heard her raise her voice 10 times in my entire childhood – if that – but this was one of those times.

Probably why it left such an impact. Also because I had to look up the word nymphomaniac, couldn’t spell it, so had to ask.

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Rindle February 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Jamie, I’m loving your mom so much right now!

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Ellie H. February 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm

That is wonderful. I really took issue with this “not that type of girl” comment.

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Jen M. February 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I think I love your mom. Seriously. That is awesome.

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IronMaiden February 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

The term woman is usually reserved for an adult, with the term girl being the usual term for a female child or adolescent.

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Job seeker February 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I have referred to my self as a Southern girl before and had people jump down my case about that on this blog. So what if I call myself a girl, I am not a boy. Yes, I am a woman with a family and a life but really isn’t that just a little picky. Many people I know use that term and according to my dictionary a girl is a woman of any age married or single.

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Ash February 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Girl is also used as a dismissive term to infantalize women. It’s fine if you call yourself a girl because you are choosing to do it. Others doing it may be doing it out of a paternalistic, domineering sense (akin to calling a Black man “boy”). Not to get all SJW on this blog (mostly because SJW-types are the worst). There is a difference and I hope you can see what the difference is.

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Job seeker February 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I appreciate your statement. I can see to some this could be a dismissive term. I was just referring to myself and how when I said that I felt some jumped on my case. I would never think it was OK to call anyone (like your example a Black man “boy”). To me that would definitely be a put down. I do not put down anyone in anyway so I guess this really surprised me that someone reacted so strongly to my referring to myself as a girl. I can see where this could be a difference to others even though it does not bother me.

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TL February 14, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Unless, of course, the OP is that kind of girl. (And there’s nothing wrong with that!) I think just flatly refusing, like other people have said, is better. It doesn’t feed into any kind of negative stereotypes or make the guy think she would do X if only there were Y circumstances, which is really important.

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Jazzy Red February 15, 2013 at 10:03 am

“Looking For Mr. Goodbar”

Read it or see the movie.

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Anonymous February 15, 2013 at 11:49 am

“I’m not that type of girl/woman” – did I fall asleep and wake up in the 1950s today?

Perhaps I ame that type of girlwoman who gets drunk and picks up men at bars every weekend. Does that mean I can’t object to having a co-worker ask me about my sex life?

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Katie the Fed February 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm

You need to stop answering his questions at all. Respond with “I’m not comfortable discussing my personal life with you” every single time he asks a question. Rinse and repeat.

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M-C February 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm

More exactly, respond with “coworkers have no business asking about my personal life”. Which is more to the point..

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Sarge February 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Let’s take some perspective. You’re carrying a bloody STUN GUN at work with you to feel safe around a co-worker! Reality check! You should never be on shift with this person again, or leave this job. Sorry to be blunt I can’t believe you’re actually considering still working beside this creep. Read a newspaper – there are some people who do not care about right and wrong. This guy is a few cards short of a deck. Unless I’m a policeman or Navy Seal, I’m not getting paid to put my personal safety on the line every time I go to work. There are plenty of part-time jobs. Go find another one. If you were my wife, daughter or gf, I’d get you out of there ASAP.

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fposte February 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm

We actually have no idea if her personal safety is genuinely threatened; her response just tells us what she feels, not what the guy can do.

Not saying that there’s nothing to be concerned about in this situation–I especially don’t like the pattern of escalation–but I also don’t like the idea of turning to a weapon before telling somebody to knock it off.

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anonny February 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm

..but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that he might escalate.

Still, I also advocate for talking and pushing it up the chain before doing anything more drastic.

Also, the OP may really need the money from this 2nd job, and sadly, working 2 jobs does not leave her a lot of time to look for a different job.

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forrest February 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm

But if she was a he and your son, you’d leave him there?

Yea, there’s many jobs in some places. There may not be in her area or they may conflict with her day job or may not pay enough.

Theres no reason to leave yet, certainly since she hasnt taken any actjon yet.

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Matthew February 14, 2013 at 7:41 pm

While being direct about not wanting to answer his questions might work, he would still be a wierdo…I would try to get yourmanager to do something, or devote your entire shift to searching for a better job.

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Grey February 14, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I could all be harmless. His marriage is failing and he sounds bored with his life (you’re also working a boring shift). Maybe he’s just hoping to hear some exciting stories from someone who obviously has an active social life?

I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and tell him to back off a bit before you do anything drastic. If that doesn’t go well, then I’d worry about it.

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Elizabeth West February 14, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I would agree except for the sleeping thing, where she woke to find him standing over her staring. That’s just effing creepy.

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anonny February 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Tremendously creepy.

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Anonymous February 14, 2013 at 9:29 pm

geez, I really love how people are falling over themselves to defend creepster men SO MUCH that the response to “my co-worker is prying into my sex life against my will and watching me sleep” is “it could be harmless!”

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anonny February 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm

+1

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Rana February 15, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Agreed. This behavior is creepy and inappropriate, full stop.

It doesn’t matter one whit why he’s doing it.

We don’t need to know his reasons, or his intentions, or anything. All we need to know is (a) his behavior is making someone else uncomfortable, and (b) his behavior is inappropriate. Regardless of anything else, it needs to stop.

Whether that requires firing him, disciplining him, calling him out, or the OP leaving the job is a separate matter, but can we please stop trying to explain this stuff away?

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Grey February 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Speaking from experience it’s entirely possible to give off that “creep” by accident or simply by being socially awkward. Here’s one story of many for you:

I consider myself a perfect gentleman and most women who know me well would agree. I was once showing an apartment for rent. I had just spend the day working outside and was less than fresh, so I tried to keep a safe distance from the woman who wanted to see it. I paused as she went up the stairs to put a few feet of distance between us. Plus, she was rather attractive and I didn’t want her to think I was trying to get too close.

I could tell as she placed her hands on the back of her thighs that she thought I had done this so I could look up her skirt. I wasn’t. I have no doubt she told someone about the perv she met that day. If you’d heard the story from her, you’d probably agree with her and would be giving her all the same advice found in these comments.

So, I guess a part of me can imagine a scenario where the man comes into the room to talk to her. His entry into the room wakes her up. She sees him and thinks, “oh he must have been watching me sleep all this time”. For all anyone knows, he could have only been there for a few seconds. Why not ask him?

I’ve done plenty of things like that to give women the wrong impression about me – some of it by accident and some as a result of not knowing how to interact with women.

I guess my whole point was that you should be absolutely sure before slapping the “creep” label on a guy. It’s as easy as talking to him about it and judging his reaction. Only the OP can tell for sure if he’s a real threat. The rest of us shouldn’t be making definite character assessments based on a couple of paragraphs at AAM.

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FreeThinkerTX February 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Grey, did you even read what kinds of questions this guy is asking her? These are questions that only come from Creeps! A “socially awkward” guy does NOT ask a woman if she met any guys when she went out and did she “do anything” with them. A socially awkward guy does NOT ask a woman how much she would need to drink to have sex with someone she’d just met. A “socially awkward” guy does NOT grill a woman on her relationship history.

And I think it reflects poorly on anyone who tries to defend this kind of behavior as being “harmless”.

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Katniss February 14, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Wow, people will perform apologetics for ANY creeps won’t they?

It doesn’t matter if the guy has a failing marriage. It doesn’t matter if he’s bored. Frankly in my opinion it doesn’t matter if he’s dealing with some huge horrible thing of any sort. There is no excuse for his creepy behavior towards the OP, ESPECIALLY when he is acting this way when they’re alone in a situation she probably feels she cannot just walk away from since it’s her job.

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Schnauz February 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm

At first, I thought maybe this guy was socially awkward and wasn’t picking up on her body language that his questions were unwelcome. Then this: “…even asked how much I was planning on drinking one night, and if that would be enough to make me go home with someone.”

That shot it straight into the creeposphere. Seriously. I can’t tell if he thinks this is getting to know her better or he’s gathering data in his head on some “how drunk does a girl have to be…” kind of research or he’s trying to figure out how much alcohol/rohypnol he would need to get this woman impaired enough to sleep with him. So crazy. Then you pile on standing, watching her sleep and I think she’s right to be scared.

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Jean February 14, 2013 at 11:07 pm

“shot it straight into the creeposphere. Seriously.”
Yes. Yes. Agree completely. It’s one thing to have a coworker who is socially awkward (or has Asperger’s). It’s another thing to work an overnight shift with someone who first asks increasingly intrusive questions, and then stands watching you while you sleep! OP, I feel for you. I hope you can get OUT of this situation very soon.

Where is building security? (I’m assuming that the place of employment has some sort of on-site security.) OP, can you talk to the head of that department as well as your incompetent manager? Or can you request that security check up on you (during your overnight shifts w/ the creepy coworker) at irregularly scheduled intervals?

Better yet, OP, start getting yourself out of this situation _now_. Look for another part-time job. Make it clear to your manager and other managers and coworkers that you feel seriously unsafe with this person. If you have friends or family who can help you out, count your blessings, swallow your pride, explain the situation, and ask for short-term financial help.

I realize that not everybody has this kind of backup–that’s why I’m also suggesting the irregular visits by building security. Or having a friend (preferably, a large, athletic guy) agree to hang out near your workplace so that you two can conspicuously exchange text messages during your overnight shift. Hopefully you won’t have to do this very often before you succeed in your (simultaneous and strenuous) efforts to find a second part-time job.

Good luck.

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Rana February 15, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Plus, “socially awkward” is not the same thing as possessing a “get out of jail free” card for creepy behavior. It’s an explanation, not an excuse.

And why does it seem that “socially awkward” usually seems to be code for “does creepy sexual things” in these contexts? I know tons of people who are socially awkward, and not one of them has ever pulled this sort of stuff on me, because they are decent people.

Even if you’re terrible at reading body language, picking up on social cues, and so on, “don’t talk about sex with co-workers” is such an easy thing to understand that even the most inept, effed up, clueless person should be able to grasp it. And socially awkward but decent people knock it off if you tell them to; if anything, they will be mortified and apologetic about having accidentally crossed the line.

Creepy dude is creepy, whatever his other issues may be.

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Anonymous February 16, 2013 at 12:35 am

Seriously, my socially awkward friends and acquaintances (AND most people I know with Asperger’s while we’re at it) also [i]avoid[/i] talking about sex [b]because it’s an awkward topic[/b] especially if they’re not particularly close. The only people I know who try to push those types of boundaries are conveniently only “socially awkward” around certain (attractive, typically) women. Conveniently they know one’s sex life is off limits when talking to men or less attractive women. So let’s stop treating these people with kid gloves and making excuses for them.

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VintageLydia February 16, 2013 at 12:36 am

Darn it, wrong type of brackets! And I forgot my name! Y’all get the point.

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IronMaiden February 15, 2013 at 10:20 am

Why do you think OP “obviously” has an active social life? She works 2 jobs, one being night shift.

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Cassie February 14, 2013 at 10:04 pm

I had a coworker who was under the impression I had a boyfriend at the time and the coworker kept trying to ask me about him. Being a fairly private person, I didn’t want to get into whether I had a boyfriend of not so I just kept saying “I’m not going to talk about this with you” over and over again. Or I would just shake my head and ignore the coworker’s question. It did get the coworker to stop eventually, but I didn’t have to work a graveyard shift w/ the coworker presumably in a small work space so YMMV.

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Schnauz February 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Op, please talk to your manager and/or you other coworkers. I don’t mean to bypass your own issues but my biggest concern is for your clients. This guy is creeping you out – what is he doing with the clients? I don’t know if your clients are able to leave under their own free will, but he’s still in a position of (nominal) authority. If he’s doing this with your female clients, they may feel even more pressured than you to put up with it. It could be a misunderstanding, but your manager and/or someone higher up the ladder needs to know. Your clients’ safety may be at risk.

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Jo February 15, 2013 at 5:50 am

+1
I too have sympathy for the OP, but what about the patients? She has a duty of care to them also.
It’s (hopefully) over dramatic but I kept picturing the scene from Terminator 2 where the male nurse licks Sarah Connor while she’s sedated.

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IronMaiden February 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

Good point. The clients may be even more vulnerable than you. Please take it up with your manager.

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Jen M. February 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm

That is a really good point. Thank you so much for bringing it up.

This raises it to a whole new level of “EW!”

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Not So NewReader February 14, 2013 at 10:36 pm

I would document what is being said- keep a journal of remarks and write down your response to the remarks, too.

Definitely, no more sleeping on the job when you are with him.

Anyone else seeing strange behavior?

I would give the boss a chance to remedy the situation. If no, then consider leaving or consider going to your boss’s boss.

You are working with a protected class of people, right? I would think TPTB would be interested in any unusual behavior on the part of staff people. You might mention that his preoccupation with drinking/dating/sex may not be appropriate nor in the best interest of the people you are serving.

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Blue February 14, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Doesn’t that count as sexual harassment? (If the OP tells him to stop.)

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BW February 15, 2013 at 7:37 am

I think it counts as sexual harassment even if she doesn’t tell him directly to stop. I think it just has to make her uncomfortable. The content is definitely sexual in nature.

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fposte February 15, 2013 at 11:12 am

It doesn’t count legally, though, unless the organization has been given a chance to handle it.

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Ask a Manager February 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm

It has to be severe or pervasive, and if the organization has a harassment policy, she needs to follow that policy for reporting, etc. If the org doesn’t take care of it at that point, then it would be a legal issue.

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Blue February 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Thanks for the replies. I asked because I think the OP should carry out the required steps for her protection from sexual harassment such as warning the offender it is not acceptable and speaking with management regardless of management. Some companies care little for clients, staff or the law until you remind them of it. Occasionally, I email the link to the law if the HR seems unaware.

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Elise February 14, 2013 at 11:55 pm

There is actually a non-confrontational method that might work. Remember the Mad Farter who purposely made his BO bad to chase the woman out of their shared office? You just need to find out what he ate and try that approach. Or at least some cheap perfume and just douse yourself to force him to keep his distance.

Yes, telling someone is certainly more mature and professional–but the OP wanted a non-verbal approach.

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Jen M. February 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm

This could harm the patients, though, if any of them have chemical sensitivities.

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BW February 15, 2013 at 7:35 am

Oh god. Tell someone. Talk to your manager. Tell the guy directly you don’t want to talk about something when he goes down Creepy Lane and get back to texting or reading whatever you can do that doesn’t involve talking to him, but definitely talk to your manager about your concerns. His behavior is inappropriate at best, and it’s just you and him and sleeping psych clients – who, from the use of “residential” I take to be either minors or chronically disabled adults living in a group setting where staffing is really minimal (as opposed to an acute treatment setting – hospitals usually have security and are better staffed overnight)

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BW February 15, 2013 at 7:41 am

If your manager won’t deal with it, go over his/her head. Seriously. You are carrying a stun gun. So you obviously do not feel safe around this guy.

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Anonymous February 15, 2013 at 10:51 am

What an awful situation. You *must* speak to your manager, immediately. You, he, & the clients are all at risk of a ugly mess. If you use your stun gun on him, without having alerted your mnot anager/s and seriously sought help, YOU could be the one in trouble for using a weapon in a controlled environment. I understand not wanting to be direct, it’s a common reaction and often comes from a desire to keep from escalating a problem, but you do all parties a disservice by doing nothing and in fact you are allowing it to get worse. I’d make an appt to talk with your manager during the day – taking time away from your day job to do so, so she knows its that important & so that she has other staff available for planning purposes right then if she wants them – and describe what is going on, your concerns for your own safety & that of the clients. You need to ask for help clearly. If your manager says she’ll take care of it, ask outright for support from security. She needs to know that you are frightened. Read the regulations for the controlled area. I’m confident that your carrying a stun gun there is a violation & could make you look like the problem. (Gee, all I did was talk to her. She carried a weapon. Who’s in trouble here?)
Plan to apologize for not going to your manager sooner, & not giving her the opportunity to address this before it got to the point where you feel so threatened. Don’t be surprised if her first reaction is concern for the clients – that is her first charge. That does not mean that she isn’t also concerned for you.
Do not wait. Good luck.

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M February 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Wow.
This guy is escalating his behavior. Sorry to be blunt but he seems to be testing you and so far you test like a possible victim – passive and afraid to set boundaries. Please tell your manager and set boundaries with this person NOW. This isn’t going anywhere good. Read The Gift of Fear if you can – it is eye-opening.

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TL February 15, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Ugh indeed. As most everyone else has said, please notify your manager, and go over their head if necessary. Your gut is right; this guy has gone WAY too far into creep territory.

Also, re: your statement: “Basically, I am hoping you could give me ideas for how to help this without being direct to the point of causing a potential issue, but not subtle enough that it keeps continuing.” I’m sure it feels awkward and embarrassing to create a “fuss”, but remember that *this guy* has caused the issue, *not* you. You’re simply bringing the issue to light so it can be dealt with; it’s not your fault, and you’re not the one causing the problem by speaking up.

(I’m a different TL than the other commenter here, BTW. It looks like someone else has started using the same handle?)

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VintageLydia February 16, 2013 at 12:40 am

Yup. We’re conditioned to not “cause drama” but really, he’s causing it, not you. Set your boundaries and stand firm, OP. You are in the right!

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Mel R February 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Ugh. With this sort of guy, subtle does NOT work. Please add my vote to the chorus telling you to talk to your manager, talk to security, and tell this guy bluntly that his comments/questions are inappropriate and offensive!

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OP February 26, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Hey all, thanks for the advice! It has became worse since I wrote this letter, so I think it’s time to progess towards talking with my manager. Unfortunately there is no security on site. I also have ordered a copy of Gift of Fear from Amazon.

At first I tried to dismiss it as harmless too, I guess just because I wanted to avoid any kind of drama or confrontation. As it’s progressed, however, it’s become pretty clear that it’s not harmless. So, management it is…hopefully it’ll work out.
Thanks!

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Ask a Manager February 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Thanks for updating us! Please continue to keep us posted after you talk to your manager!

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Guera March 14, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Any updates on this one?

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OP March 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Hey, it’s OP again. I spoke with the manager, and while she wasn’t fully supportive, she did agree to have a conversation with him. I never saw him again after that, and she never followed up with me to let me know the situation, which is fine. He no longer works there, I guess I don’t need to know more than that. Thanks for all the encouragement! I wouldn’t have spoken to management without the extra push from this website. It was definitely progressing into dangerous territory though.

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Jen M. March 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I am really glad to hear that he has moved on! That’s such a huge relief!

I hope everything goes smoothly from here on out for you! :)

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Ask a Manager March 20, 2013 at 12:37 am

Thanks for updating us! That’s good news.

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Lee April 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm

For some odd reason, when you answer a creeper it seems to validate their advances. the whole waking up and him watching you, VERY UNSAFE!! You need to put this down NOW! Let me clue you in, you are NOT safe in that situation. Asking questions about your personal life is (within reason) normal among co-workers. Sexual questions are WAYYYY out of line. Waking up with him looking at you is the opening of a door to a room that you DO NOT want to go into! Get help, please! If you need help, I’m offering it! I’m in San Antonio Texas, but I will do whatever I can to help!

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Nicholebydesign February 3, 2014 at 8:58 pm

He’s found topics that make you uncomfortable because they are implying things to you. You don’t want to confront him. Solution: Go ahead, chat with him. Find things out about him and then just shoot them down! Say things like, oh your marriage is failing? Well that’s not hard to believe.. Surprised you were married in the first place!

And any question he asks respond with a question like why are you asking that.

Just be rude and unattractive. Become unattractive.

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