coworker is collecting women’s phone numbers under false pretenses

A reader writes:

I work at a university. There is a young man — a student worker — who works at the front desk of a different office at the university, but in the same building as me. A few weeks ago, he sent an email to my coworker asking for her cell number for an “emergency contact” database. She gave it to him, and since then has been receiving texts and phone calls (including one at 7 a.m. telling her to “have a lovely day”) from him. She has shrugged off his advances and he is now leaving her alone.

However, I just received the exact same email asking for my cell number for emergency purposes. I am tempted to write back saying I have already given my personal contact and emergency info to HR and to cc the HR manager into the message so she knows this man is asking for personal numbers on our work email.

Is this appropriate to do? I am a little annoyed and creeped out and I’m afraid he is going to keep doing this to every young woman in the office if it isn’t nipped in the bud now.

You could, but it’s a bit passive and the HR manager might not pick up on the full problem. For all she knows, he really might have been directed by his manager to compile an emergency contact list. (And in case anyone is wondering if he really might have been — I highly doubt it. That’s a project where you send one mass email, not individual ones over a period of weeks.)

Instead, be more direct. Forward the email to the HR manager with a note about what happened when your friend gave him her phone number for this list. Assume it’ll be taken care of after that.

For what it’s worth, I wish your friend had handled it more directly too, by telling him directly to stop the first time she got one of his texts or phone calls (and especially after that 7 a.m. one). True, she’s not under any obligation to educate this guy that his behavior is inappropriate, but there’s something to the “it takes a village” philosophy when it comes to addressing bad behavior.

{ 109 comments… read them below }

  1. OldSoul*

    OP, I’m curious.
    If he is in another department why would he need your phone numbers for an emergency contact list? That seems ridiculously odd to me.
    I work at a University as well and for weather/emergency stuff the University has an alert system that we sign up for to send us text messages. Other than my immediate supervisor, I don’t give my personal number out to colleagues.

      1. OldSoul*

        I guess I meant, why would they even give him their personal number? He doesn’t need it.

        If he had asked me for my number in that context, it would have raised a huge red flag and I would have shut that request down.

        Lol. Sorry, I wasn’t clearer. I just assumed you could read my train thought in that post. :-)

        1. fposte*

          Sometimes people don’t think skeptically in those situations (and some less experienced co-workers may not have the context to realize that this is unusual).

          That can also be a reason why those are the people approached in the first place.

      2. Mike Hunter*

        Your version of harassment and mine must vary drastically. A simple:”Please don’t call or text me unless it’s work related.” Would have sufficed.

        The fact that you’re too cowardly to tell someone that you are not romantically interested in them doesn’t suddenly make it harassment when they contact you.

        1. Jess*

          How do you know it would’ve sufficed? It’s certainly not uncommon for men to refuse to take no for an answer and keep pestering. Or for him to gossip to her friends “all I said was have a nice day and she totally bit my head off and told me never to speak to her again”. I agree that it would have been a good thing for her to say, but I don’t agree it would be consequence-free.

    1. Sascha*

      I was thinking this, too. I also work at a university and we have the emergency contact system, although my department has its own list, where each manager has the cell number of their reports. But since he is not in OP’s department and asking for numbers….creeper.

      1. businesslady*

        it’s also not that rare to have a student worker whose name you don’t know…so the people might not realize this guy isn’t in their department (or not be sure enough to risk seeming rude by pressing him on it).

    2. Frances*

      It kind of depends on what the set up is. The university I work for has an overall alert system but my school maintains a separate “phone tree” type system as we’re on the other side of town from the main campus (we’ve had times before when our administration has decided to close for bad weather ahead of the main campus). But one could describe my position as being in another department from some of the people I need to collect numbers from, even though we’re the same school.

    3. OP*

      It’s a very small college (less than 900 students) and we don’t have a formal university contact system. It isn’t unusual for the office down the hall to wish to have the numbers of colleagues for many different purposes. But he abused this trust and is trying to harass women…

      In addition, my co-worker is also very young and a little bit naive. She gave out the number and is much too ‘nice’ to tall anyone off directly so she just ignored him.

  2. some1*

    “For all she knows, he really might have been directed by his manager to compile an emergency contact list. (And in case anyone is wondering if he really might have been — I highly doubt it. That’s a project where you send one mass email, not individual ones over a period of weeks.)”

    I have been asked to compile lists like this before, and yes, I emailed everyone at once. And I never used the numbers to call anyone for no-work stuff, and I definitely never texted anyone.

    Also, if it was for an Emergency Contact List, the LW and her friend would have been asked to provide an emergency contact person I would assume.

    1. Katie*

      I think the idea that a very junior worker might e-mail everyone and ask for their phone #s for an emergency contact list isn’t that weird, but the fact that he was sending the requests out one at a time and days or weeks apart is.

      OP’s coworker should have let the student worker’s supervisor or HR know this went on in the first place. Even if someone’s manager asks them to collect this information, abusing it is a very serious problem, and he should have been talked to immediately. If I knew one of my junior employees was using an assignment I’d given them, or making up one entirely, in order to hit on people in my office, I would probably let them go without any further notice. That is grossly inappropriate and unethical behavior, and I couldn’t trust them after that.

        1. Grace*

          @Mike Hunter: Your response is pretty hostile to another poster. Most states are at-will and employees can be terminated for any reason that doesn’t violate the law (filed a discrimination complaint, has a medical condition) and public policy. Any employment law attorneys worth their salt would advise employers to err on the side of caution in providing a discrimination-free and harassment-free workplace. I guy who got someone’s cell phone number under a false pretext and then starts texting them? In the morning? Whenever? The legal terms that spring to my mind are: negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision, harassment, stalking, etc. Stalking is also against federal and state laws and only requires two incidences, even texts.

  3. Anon*

    Why are all these people acting scared of a little wanna be player? Why is he “creeping” anyone out trying to run his little game? He’s a student. Really. Tell him to go play with his blocks.

    1. A Bug!*

      Who’s “scared”? The letter-writer recognizes that this is inappropriate behavior and wants to know the best course of action to prevent him from doing it to others.

      Your comment seems overly dismissive of behavior that should be at the very least concerning: he is obtaining personal information about other people under false pretenses and for questionable motives. It may not seem like a big deal to you but it is absolutely something that needs to be addressed.

      1. Anon*

        Um, I didn’t say it wasn’t inappropriate. It needs to be addressed, but I agree with AAM’s advice – they are acting wishy-washy about it. We’ve read other letters on this blog where people had really good reason to be genuiunely concerned about how to handle something with an inappropriate co-worker. This is very tame and doesn’t need to be handled with kid-gloves.

        1. BW*

          I didn’t get the sense that anyone was “scared”, but I wouldn’t begrudge any woman for feeling creeped out a little by this guy’s weird behavior. I wouldn’t call it”very tame” either. If his intentions were entirely harmless and innocent, why does he feel the need to get the contact information under such deception rather than just striking up a conversation with a woman and being up front? That is creepy behavior even if nothing bad came out of it for the first woman, presumably because she ignored him which caused him to move on to someone else. Definitely red flag behavior even if he’s not acting outright scary. This is not the way a normal man interested in talking more with a co-workers acts.

        2. Martina*

          I think there’s nothing wrong with how the OP’s friend acted, if that what you’re calling “wishy-washy.” I totally agree with AAM that it isn’t anyone’s obligation “to educate this guy that his behavior is inappropriate.” Also, part of the reason, I think, the OP wrote this is to find out how she could be more direct about addressing his behavior.

        3. Katie*

          This isn’t tame. This is an abuse of his position at the very least, and if this isn’t an assignment he was given, qualifies as stalking. It’s very creepy.

          1. Rana*

            Agreed. It reveals that he doesn’t care about appropriate behavior and that he doesn’t respect other people’s privacy or boundaries. Both are big red flags.

            Also, if someone sent random texts to me in anything other than an emergency situation, I’d be really annoyed, as I’m not on a text plan and I have to pay for every single one I receive.

          2. Mike Hunter*

            Texting someone after they’ve give you their phone number is “stalking”. Give me a break. Heres a crazy idea: if she didn’t want the guy to text her she could have just told him that.

            I guess acting like an adult is too much to ask from female office workers. Instead of actually confronting the guy; they’d rather trash him behind his back.

  4. Jamie*

    Yep – one of those areas where I would make the hand off to HR immediately, too.

    He needs to stop and anyone who has given him their number needs to be told so they don’t engage if he calls/texts.

    If this was a prank it’s not too early for him to learn a lesson about fireable offenses, and if it wasn’t he needs to know he’s been caught.

    1. Reeya*

      Or, on the chance that rather than being a prankster or being a creep, he’s just a socially awkward person who genuinely doesn’t see how this is inappropriate (hey, I’ve definitely encountered some profoundly clueless people over the years) he needs to understand that this behavior just isn’t acceptable so he doesn’t keep repeating the same mistake wherever he goes.

      1. Elizabeth*

        In my opinion, lying to women at work to get their phone numbers crosses over past the line of “socially awkward person who genuinely doesn’t see how this is inappropriate.” Asking someone to go on a date with you repeatedly could possibly just be socially clueless – but you have to be beyond awkward to think that lying is acceptable behavior.

        1. BW*


          It’s the deception that gives it the creep factor. If it’s meant to be a prank, the humor or just even the point seems to be getting lost on his targets.

        2. A Non Mouse*

          Honestly? I wish people would stop giving crappy behavior a pass under “but socially awkward!” banner. It really doesn’t make a difference if he’s a sneaky creeper or genuinely clueless. The women he’s harassing are under no obligation to pat him on the head about it. If he’s genuinely clueless I bet he’ll get a clue real damn fast once there start being unfortunate consequences for his stupid behavior.

          1. Xay*

            Thank you! Socially awkward or not, people have to learn what behavior is appropriate or they will never learn.

          2. Jane Doe*

            Exactly. Social awkwardness isn’t a good excuse for poor behavior, but some people treat it that way. Rather, it’s a sign that someone doesn’t understand basic social conventions, and probably needs some straightforward talk about what is and isn’t appropriate.

            Also, I think the fact that a lot of people treat “socially awkward” people with kid gloves rather than giving it to them straight ends up making things worse – people who aren’t disposed to pick up on social cues and conventions are also probably not disposed to pick up on hints or passive suggestions, which in turn makes it harder for them to develop a good sense of what’s socially acceptable.

            1. Marie*

              Agreed. Dealing with someone socially awkward doesn’t mean they get any free passes to misbehave. It just means they need things explained more overtly than one might expect: whereas to a deliberate jerk one might express shock, to a socially awkward person I find I get better results by explaining WHY their statement is causing shock. E.g: “When you say X-awkward-thing, people think Y-bad-thing. People thinking Y-bad-thing is not what you want, so stop it.”

          3. Reeya*

            That was the point I was trying to make (but it looks like I wasn’t very clear) – regardless of whatever is driving his behavior (and obviously pulling a prank/being a creep/being clueless are not necessarily mutually exclusive things), it needs to be addressed so that it doesn’t continue. I wasn’t trying to suggest that he gets a pass just in case he’s awkward.

          4. Katniss*

            Exactly. It also allows people to avoid responsibility for their own awkwardness.

            I’m socially awkward, in that I have a pretty severe and diagnosed social anxiety disorder. I really resent people letting creepy behavior get a pass under the “but they might just be awkward” excuse, because as an awkward person I WANT to know when I’m behaving inappropriately or outside of social norms and I would never be resentful of someone bring it up…how else am I supposed to learn?

            1. Reeya*

              Exactly – this is the point I was trying to make originally but I’m worried that I’ve been misinterpreted. He could be a guy pulling a prank, he could be a creep who likes to harass women, he could be socially inept (or any combination thereof); either way, he shouldn’t get a pass. He needs to be told that what he did is not acceptable, so he can adjust his behavior accordingly to keep his job/not make women feel uncomfortable or unsafe/not repeat this behavior in other contexts where he would make people feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

              I hope I’m not being overly repetitive – I just want to be clear that I was not suggesting that the kid’s behavior be brushed under the table with the excuse of “he’s socially awkward.”

        3. Reeya*

          You are absolutely right, I was focusing more on the inappropriate texting after getting her phone number when I first responded, but the lying definitely takes it into creep territory.

        4. Arts Nerd*

          Yup. I actually had this happen to me as a student employee supervised by other students. He wanted my number for a ‘contact list’ and then proceeded to call me and ask me out (no matter that he was engaged.) I did not react well. Favorite line from that conversation? “Don’t worry, it’s not like we’re going to rape you.”

          A few days later he got drunk and called me 15-30 times within an hour. I was with friends and just started passing my phone around for other people to answer. I was immature and passive so didn’t approach the staff member ultimately in charge, but he did know about it. And did nothing, so I resigned for being ‘too busy.’

      2. Anonymous*

        “Maybe he’s just socially awkward” is really not the answer to all inappropriate/creepy behavior.

        1. Reeya*

          That’s not what I was trying to say. I was presenting it as another potential motivator for the behavior, which I agree needs to be addressed because it is inappopriate.

      3. Kathryn T.*

        If he was socially awkward, he wouldn’t have so masterfully manipulated social conventions in order to escape being smacked down. There’s nothing awkward about this, he’s just creepy.

    2. OP*

      I should probably also note that the student worker is foreign and comes from a culture where is it acceptable (if not expected) for men to be VERY forward with women. I’m sure this is contributing to his actions, but he also needs to learn that in an American office, this behavior is not acceptable. I don’t think it’s mental issues at all.

  5. Mig-El*

    Anon, to put it in perspective, I know a guy with a similar M.O. His behavior around women and the way he approaches them both “professionally” and socially go from friendly to wildly inappropriate in like 2.5 seconds. He tells women he wants to meet up with them under the pretense of collaborating either musically or artistically or under any other guise that he can think of. When they agree, he immediately steers the conversation towards going on a date and other romantic intentions. Whenever he is shot down by the aforementioned ladies and told that he maybe misunderstood the situation he habitually goes on the defensive and calls these women “arrogant” and “self-centered” to assume he would be interested in them romantically and flips the situation around by saying they’re the ones who misunderstood and that he “has a girlfriend sort of already” or some other excuse to make it seem that he was never interested in the first place when it is very obvious that he was. He does this habitually. I’m not saying this is the kind of person this kid might become, but his behavior is still misleading and inappropriate and should be addressed for several reasons.
    I mean, let’s put it this way, Anon, would you like it if a person who you had ZERO romantic interest in tricked you into giving them your phone number and then began harassing you on a regular basis? Then after letting them down you come to find out that one of your friends has been duped by the same person in the same fashion? You’re telling me you wouldn’t find that a bit alarming?
    To answer your question, he is “creeping” people out because he’s being a creeper, plain and simple.
    To put it it another way, think of it from a business prospective. If I was this dude’s supervisor this is what I would see: An employee who is harassing and deceiving fellow employees while on the clock using company resources and using the company as his false-pretense/deception. That, in and of itself, regardless of the socially inappropriate angle, is cause enough for concern.

    1. Anon*

      You assume that’s never happened to me before. Or any other woman in the world. Who HASN’T come across this type of guy?

      I’m classifying this at this point as wildly inappropriate and the actions of a person who probably thinks these women should be flattered by his “attention,” when his thirsty behind is running behind anything in a skirt and is breathing.

      He’s a jerk and he needs to be checked. But I have read about creepy right here on this blog. And this isn’t there yet. But he needs to be stopped directly. The friend should have said something too. Men who act like every woman in the world is falling over them irritate me to no end. As do women who don’t let these “players” know immediately they should play these games elsewhere. Especially at WORK!

      1. A Bug!*

        This may be a relatively minor example of it, but I don’t really know how “lying to a woman in order to bypass her informed consent” isn’t pretty dang sketchy.

        Dude may not be a creep, but he’s doing a creepy thing.

      2. fposte*

        I don’t think there’s a universal agreement on what’s creepy, but I think people who try to be players at work would fall into that category for me. People who use work conventions to obtain personal information and then randomly disturb people at dawn would also fall into that category for me.

      3. Min*

        We each have our own line for “creepy”. His behavior hasn’t crossed yours, and that’s fine, but there’s no need to berate those for whom it has rung their own personal creep-o-meter bell. You don’t know what their past experiences have been. They could have very good reasons for being creeped out by this.

      4. Sam*

        “…the actions of a person who probably thinks these women should be flattered by his ‘attention,’ ”

        That sounds awfully creepy by me. And it’s the same kind of delusion held by some rapists.

    2. Marie*

      Yep. I’ve given out my number expressly for the purposes of musical collaboration (and at the same time handed out my musician-husband’s number, just to avoid any confusion), only to be contacted regularly by this dude in the middle of the night for inane but somehow uncomfortable-making conversation. Eventually the line was very obviously crossed when said dude started asking for photos, resulting in such a severe telling-off that he has not been seen in our circle of friends since.

    1. Anonymous*

      I have had many student workers and have had to counsel some of them and fire some of them. This is not a stop it offense. This is an immediate firing offense and telling university HR what happened so he never gets another campus job offense.

        1. Anonymous*

          Elizabeth, I realized that what I said might have sounded harsh, but student employment is not like regular employment where you have to give people chances. Students can, at most places, be hired and fired pretty much at the will or whim of the supervisor. There are plenty of good, honest ones out there to replace any bad ones you get. Also, many student employees have access to sensitive information: phone numbers, student ID numbers, SSN’s etc. so you want to be sure university HR knows that this person cannot be trusted with people’s personal information.

  6. First Time!*

    I would speak to his supervisor and ask casually why he needs to put together an emergency contact list for people who aren’t in the department. Presumably, the supervior will be confused and speak to the guy and put a stop to it.

    1. Natalie*

      I’m not sure that’s enough, actually – the supervisor may just think the guy is “taking initiative” or whatever. It’s important that a manager be informed that this person is a) lying to get someone’s personal phone number and then b) contacting them repeatedly on said number for a non-emergency purpose.

  7. Anonymous*

    If he’s hot then it’s appropriate, if not, then for sure discuss it with the manager. I guess it all depends on whether you’re attracted to him or not.

    1. Kristoff*

      Getting the info in this manner is not appropriate if he is the best looking guy in the world. Most women I know would reject him on that basis alone even if they would have gone out with him if he had just asked them out.

        1. fposte*

          Maybe you would be. If I find out somebody was screwing over his workplace to call me at dawn, his pretty face wouldn’t redeem him.

        2. Ash*

          Let’s all keep perpetuating the stupid and sexist idea that “It’s not sexual harassment if the guy is attractive!” Good job.

          1. A Bug!*

            Thing is, in a way, it is. Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual attention. And if a person is attractive to the recipient, the attention might not be unwanted.

            But some people have twisted this around to some whacked-out notion that if a woman would accept certain behavior from one person in one context, she’s obligated to accept it from any person in any context, or else she’s shallow.

            It’s not “B.S.” that people get to decide where they draw the line and it’s not “B.S.” that people get to draw that line at different places for different people.

            And regardless of all that, it’s inappropriate behavior for the workplace whether it’s welcome or not.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Right, but I think Ash meant that people are sometimes less likely to take harassment complaints seriously if the guy is attractive, and that’s obviously wrong.

              Plus, this behavior is not acceptable for the office, period. The guy had no way of knowing if he’d get a “I’m attracted to him so this is cute” pass or not, so he needs to err on the side of assuming its not ok. Especially in the workplace, and certainly when it comes to abusing his position as a coworker to trick her into giving him her info.

              1. fposte*

                And in this case I’d have trouble with it as a manager even if the recipient didn’t mind the attention. If he’s using work time and work reasons as a cover, work gets a say in whether it’s acceptable. (Dude is a FERPA nightmare waiting to happen, for one thing.)

        3. BW*

          No. Inappropriate behavior is still inappropriate no matter how hot the guy is, and women really just aren’t that dumb. I don’t think most women would be flattered by someone tricking them into give out their personal cell number, but then maybe it depends on what a woman is looking to get out of a relationship.

        4. Kou*

          I bet everyone here $50 that this is a guy who gets really mad when his attempts to creep on women like this get shot down.

      1. fposte*

        It’s also a deeply unethical behavior from a workplace standard, and I’d be concerned about what other problems his lying and information misuse habit could lead to.

      2. KellyK*

        Exactly. I’m pretty sure Anonymous is trolling, but in my book, lying and manipulating are unattractive *in and of themselves,* regardless of what you look like.

    2. Kathryn T.*

      Dear lord, no. The scariest harassment I’ve received has been from guys who were objectively gorgeous. Being good-looking does not give you permission to override someone’s boundaries.

    3. Xay*

      I don’t care how hot a guy is – if he is willing to act like this to get a number and then harass a woman, he is not worth dealing with.

    4. Kelly*

      You’re trolling THIS blog with your nonsense? You should sit and have a big think about your life choices, son.

  8. MS*

    As someone who DOES collect personal contact information for a department within a university, I too see that it is highly inappropriate for someone in a another department to be requesting this, other than, perhaps HR. Yet, our HR does this through automated emails reminding us how this is important for safety communications.

    I collect for my department for more in-house emergency communications. Thankfully, we have yet to need it. However, should I or any of the people privy to the data make use of the contact information for anything short of a hurricane, well, that’s ridiculous.

    I’d probably email his supervisor directly asking what the ‘project’ was all about and taking the issue from there.

  9. De Minimis*

    I freely confess, I was very socially awkward during college and probably did cross the line into creepy at some points. What kept me from getting worse [honest!] is that at those points of creepiness it was made clear that what I was doing wasn’t appropriate or welcome, and at that point I think I was able to wise up and quit creeping people out.

    The best candidate for letting this guy know that would be his supervisor.

  10. AC*

    This post had me immediately rolling my eyes at the guy’s cluelessness (and that in no way means I make light of the fact that the guy is being a creeper or excuse his actions).
    I used to supervise student workers at a university library and this sounds exactly like the type of behavior the very immature students would engage in and not understand that it was highly inappropriate for a work environment. What works in a bar (Hey, can I get your cell phone, we can collaborate on that very engaging topic we were just discussing), is in no way appropriate for your job.
    We had many student workers who were prone to not realizing that their work/study job was, in fact, A JOB, and needed to be approached with a degree of professionalism.
    Eventually all of our student workers had to go through a training seminar when they started that spelled out what was expected of them in a work environment (no making out in the stacks, no hitting on your coworkers and/or other students in the library, booty shorts and belly shirts are not appropriate work attire). You had to literally spell it out for some of them. I would get comments from some of our workers that they didn’t need this training, but I just told them to suck it up because a lot of their peers did need to have their hands held like this.

    1. khilde*

      I think you do have a point here. Many of us that have been in the workforce and are professionals can easily see this behavior as dumb and out of line. I think it’s hard for us to see this sort of thing from the perspective of someone with far less experience and vastly less maturity. AC – I totally believe your stories of how clueless some of the student workers can be.

      It’s the whole “they don’t know what they don’t know” thing. Of course he should know….but he apparently doesn’t, so someone has to spell it out for him and make it clear. Then you can nail him to the wall if he continues to be dumb because now there’s no doubt that he doesn’t know better.

      1. fposte*

        Maybe, but this is not just inappropriate, it’s an ethical violation, so I think that there needs to be more than just an educational approach here. He almost certainly knows this is wrong–he just doesn’t know how wrong it is.

        1. Reeya*

          Beyond education, what do you think would be an effective way of handling the situation presented in the OP? I’m not trying to be antagonistic – I absolutely agree with you that the lying takes this to a different level that merits concern. If it weren’t a student worker I’d say that this is a firing offense. But for some reason the fact that he’s a student worker and thus less likely to understand what constitutes workplace professionalism makes me stop short of saying that (though maybe I’m making too much of the student distinction for no good reason).

          Certainly it should be escalated to HR, but what happens after that?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            His boss should decide how she wants to handle it. It might be a serious talking-to and a warning that he’ll lose his job if there are any further issues (and closer scrutiny from this point forward), or she might decide to fire him over it now. If I were his boss, I’d base the decision on the broader context of what I knew about him aside from this incident.

        2. Katie*

          You know what’s a good “education”? Firing someone for unethical and borderline predatory behavior at work.

      2. Kou*

        I disagree. There is no context on earth where lying to women to get their phone numbers/whatever is appropriate– you also wouldn’t do this to your friends without people thinking you were a creep, so I don’t think this can be called a case of “he just doesn’t know office ettiquette.” That’s not considered ok anywhere else, there’s no reason for him to think it would be here aside from him just being the kind of guy who thinks this kind of crap is ok in general… Which is a creep.

    2. Reeya*

      I totally agree about how many student workers don’t realize that their campus jobs are actual jobs. When I was in college I worked as an assistant in the activities office in the college center. The office was right next to the info booth, which was also staffed with student workers. I typically picked up the first shift in the morning starting at 9AM, and more than once I would see the kid who was working the first shift at the info booth come stumbling in completely and obviously hungover (and one time I’m pretty sure the kid was still actually drunk from the night before) and not really able to function properly – particularly no-good as it was an inherently public-facing job. But he didn’t see how it was a problem because it never really occurred to him that even a student job is still a capital J job. Eventually he got a talking-to from his supervisor about professionalism…and changed shifts so he wasn’t the early morning booth guy.

      I wish my college had offered a training seminar like yours; in a lot of cases work-study jobs are a students’ first introduction to the working world. It would have been really beneficial and made the learning curve from college life to working-professional life a little less steep for us.

    3. Anon*

      This. And I was by no means berating anyone in my previous posts. He’s immature and it needs to be addressed.

      1. Min*

        I apologize if I offended you. Tone of voice doesn’t come across in print and I read some of your earlier posts as snide and judgemental, this in particular –

        Why are all these people acting scared of a little wanna be player? Why is he “creeping” anyone out trying to run his little game? He’s a student. Really. Tell him to go play with his blocks.

        Obviously I got it wrong and I am sorry for my choice of words.

  11. perrik*

    If he did this once, it would be time for an immediate “this is seriously inappropriate behavior” from his manager. But note that the same guy tried to pull the same stunt with the OP. I would ask around to see how many other female employees he has contacted for this “emergency list” – I’d bet good money that the OP’s co-worker was not the first by any means.

  12. PPK*

    This reminds of a romantic comedy where this sort of thing is funny and cute and gets the girl.

    In real life, it is creepy and a terrible idea.

    I have had a person at work start calling and texting me outside of work. In retrospect, I should not have given him my number to begin with, but I was “being nice” and gave him a ride to the airport. when he asked. Since the line was sort of gray, I started with telling him not to call me at home and I only wanted to be coworkers. The calls continued and I involved my manager. From now on, I’m trusting my gut and not letting “Oh, he’s just socially awkward” override the gut.

    1. Kou*

      That reminds me of this bit on Cracked– 6 Romantic Movie Gestures That Can Get You Prison Time:

      I had to make the resolution a long time ago that I am flat out not allowed to care if someone thinks I’m “mean” because I won’t be a nice lady who does whatever they want. That goes double for men who think their desire to hit on me morally overrides me not liking them.

  13. Kou*

    The biggest reason both women need to tell HR is not only because it would’ve gotten nipped in the bud sooner, but because the more women ignore this from him the crazier the one to finally call him out will look to all the people who don’t take this kind of thing seriuosly. And a lot of people (even a lot of HR departments) don’t take this kind of stuff seriously if they can come up with any reason to write off the woman making a complaint. They’ll say she’s just being overly sensitive and reading something into a situation that obviously isn’t there, or whatever. It’s a lot harder to write off a group of women reporting the same thing– especially if you have emails to prove it, like the OP does.

  14. Anony*

    The key word here is that the male worker is a “student.” Students most likely lack the knowledge of how things work in a professional office setting. Had it been a co-worker out of school, then that’s a different story. Someone should talk to this student.

    1. JamieG*

      Nope, it’s completely irrelevant. This isn’t a case of ignoring professional norms; his behavior wouldn’t be any more appropriate in a classroom (or any other) setting. For example, if he asked someone for their number in order to share information about missed assignments – something that, in my experience, is sometimes mandated during the first week of classes – it would still be creepy and inappropriate to use that information to send unrelated, unprompted text messages.

      1. Katie*

        I just don’t understand this “students don’t know how to be professional” business. This is a gross underestimation of the mental faculties of most college students. We’re talking kids in their late teens, early 20s who were at least intelligent enough to get into school. I find it hard to believe the most of them don’t understand that the duties they’re receiving a paycheck for actually constitutes a job or that stalking their coworkers is not an appropriate use of their position.

        I held multiple student jobs and worked with a few hundred other student workers between undergrad and graduate school. Trust me. They’re not actually that ignorant or immature. They’re just doing as much as they think they can get away with.

  15. Deirdre*

    As someone who works in HR in higher education, I can tell you that we would take a report like this very seriously. Title IX is VERY SPECIFIC about the steps necessary when reporting issues. This types of issues may not necessarily end up in HR – the can be reported through resident directors, student life/student affairs, academic departments, department chairs, diversity/inclusion officers, Title IX coordinator, and judicial affairs.

    With stats from the Department of Education that 1 in 4 women will be sexually harassed in college, we take these kinds of issues beyond seriously.

    I hope the woman reports this issue to someone – in HR, in her residence halls, in student affairs. Talk to someone. You don’t know what else is going on with this guy. Please report it.

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