Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Do You Say When...

...the janitor at your job asks if you are single? This has happened on more than one job in my life and I still haven't come up with a good response. It bugs me that women often have to be bothered with this kind of crap at work, and it raises several other issues.

First, what should a woman - ok let's be clear, a single woman in my case - say when the male janitor asks such a question. And no, I'm not trying to be funny. I actually find this to be an annoyingly difficult situation to navigate. Why? Mainly because this is someone you have to see everyday and you sometimes need him to do things like empty your trash and you want to maintain a cordial work environment. Similar to the administrative assistant. So, you don't want to shoot off the first thing that comes to mind, which for me is: "Are you kidding?" Do I look like I'm interested in talking to you?" No, that would be bad. I'm not trying to be the bitch at work. As many of you may be thinking, why don't I just say the politically correct thing: "That's an inappropriate question to ask me. I would appreciate it if you would refrain from doing so." I'm not a fan of that either. While I would be completely justified in saying that, the response would also come off badly like I'm a bitch and there goes the cordial environment. And as we all know, office politics can be a tricky game. What did I say? Unfortunately, I ended up lying and said I was not single. I really hate having to do that in responding to any guy I want to go away because while it has the desired effect of them going away, I feel that I have given these guys the wrong impression that if I were single, they would have a chance and they will then continue their bad behavior with other women. I mean really, the guy who goes around asking women if they are single is usually someone who doesn't stand a chance in hell of dating them. I don't mean to sound classist, but why in the world would I date the janitor on my job? I don't believe in dating men I work with at all, let alone the janitor! Collegial work relationships that turn into love relationships can happen but they're usually based on common interests, shared experiences, etc. So, why shouldn't I just say, "Yes, I'm single but I would never date you." Sounds mean I know.

Secondly, why is it that women are always dealing with this issue? I'm sure men sometimes have this problem but nowhere near the rate that women do. And I'm always amazed that it's still happening even in this era of sexual harassment policies. Most people are aware of these laws. This is not the 1950's. And why are these guys harassing women who are in a much higher occupational level? Aren't they at all afraid of losing their jobs? I get enough of that on the street and really don't need it at work.

And speaking of annoying men on the street, what do you say to these questions/comments?:

  • Hey baby, can I go with you?
  • Smile, it's not that bad.
  • Psst, can I talk to you?
  • Where's your man?
  • Do you want some company?

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Jamie said...

I see no problem with how you handled it. What's wrong with a white lie to avoid a potentially difficult situation?

Also, FWIW one of my (married) male coworkers has been frequently propositioned by one of the female cleaning staff in our office.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Jamie on this. Honesty is not always the best policy. Although, no one likes rejection, some people simply can not handle the truth. So, if telling a person (in this case, a custodial worker at your place of employment)that you are not single helps to foster a more peaceful working environment...I would have to say this was the most appropriate solution to this problem.

As for the men on the streets who are always yelling out crazy and inappropriate comments...hmm, what do you say? Well, a lot could be said but for now just keep walking and hope that they don't try to grab your attention with an unwanted touch:-(

Anonymous said...

I hear ya! Men can be awfully creepy. And I hate being forced to tell someone that I'm not interested. But some things should just be obvious...