When I was in Grad school I took an Alumni of my school and his granddaughter for a tour. He was hoping that she would have interest in going to where he did. There was really nothing notable at the time. Honestly, I don’t remember if I did it out of a service of my graduate studies ‘work’ for a small scholarship, or if I did it simply because I loved where I went to grad school.
I remember him being keen to keep in touch I thought it would be a good idea if I needed work when I graduated, although his work took a different direction from where I was headed, but work is necessary.
A few years passed, and he contacted me to see where I had landed. At the time, I had just landed my job at Tumi, and he offered to take me to a congratulatory dinner. This I thought a bit strange, feeling singled out, but having no idea if he did this for others, or he felt like he was repaying back the favour of me taking he and his granddaughter for a tour.
I never felt it necessary to contact him again after the dinner, which happened 8 years ago.
Recently, I started to receive emails of his retirement work being shown at a gallery. I deleted the e-mails and didn’t think anything of it. They he started to follow me on Instagram, and I ignored it. Then he wrote me a message via Instagram,
“Hello - you may not remember me, been 10 years since you took my granddaughter on a tour of the )%@^^ ID department. She decided to study film/TV production design. Do you live in Paris? I was there the 1st two weeks in June on vacation. I’m often in Paris, my favorite city. *()^ *@##
I thought for a few days about what to write back. During this time he went through my profile and obsessively liked many photos. Instagram could likely check how many exactly, but who has time for that.
Finally, I decided that I was done ‘being nice’ and whatever professional relationships fall because of this, I don’t care any more. I responded,
I remember very well our first meeting and our last when you took me to dinner when I started my last job.
It was clear for me from the onset of dinner that you interest or intention of us was more than two alumni of )%@^^ having a casual dinner. This was reinforced when you gave me a lingering hug as a good-bye that left me feeling extremely uncomfortable.
Your recent trials to get in touch with me only make me feel more uncomfortable.
TWO weeks later he finally responded with this,
“Sorry for making you uncomfortable. Was that lingering hug 7, 8...10 years ago. I will not be reach out to you ever again.”
Here’s the thing, I went on his Instagram and saw one too many photos of very young women he took, I think without their knowledge in a voyeuristic manner. One even with a creepy old many on-looking a younger woman. Not funny, not cute, gross. It was enough to confirm what I thought about him.
Before he responded I had thought to make a more public post of this situation. One that many I can imagine reading and respond with, ‘oh, woman, you are making a big deal about nothing.’
However, it is situations like this that women have to weigh EVERYDAY and do our best to make good decisions.
I went to undergraduate school for fashion and worked in the “fashion” industry for ten years in NYC before deciding to go back to graduate school for Industrial design. I was in my thirties that I started to work with straight men and began to understand the ridiculous behaviour that can go on in companies, which before, I thought was exclusive to my days working in restaurants.
Everyday, I ask myself, is he being nice to me because he is a nice person? Is it because he is interested? Is he single, and if he is, is that an advance, and do I like him?
It can get really complicated.
My yoga practice helps me to be in better tune with my body. Its boundaries, it capabilities and feeling my emotions.
This was an emotion I decided I needed to share. This is not even MY #metoo story, which I have, but that one is more difficult to share. But I am coming closer to a day when I will. I am inspired by all of the strong women who have told their horrific stories.
I posted on Instagram earlier this week about being a role model. I think the more we share and tell people how we really feel, the better we can move forward.
(Please note I am not a writer for a living. I’m just trying to share something and I would love feedback. You can spell check for me, you can grammar check for me, or you can tell me I’ve over-reacting and too sensitive, or you can tell me your story. Male or female.)