Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stalkers, Sots, and Skills for Sweethearts

This is aimed at old-fashioned fathers who have old-fashioned daughters.

One place I worked hired a large population of eighteen to twenty-three year olds. Two of the ladies there had two different stalkers after them. They made these young women's lives hell. And though I doubt there's a definite type of stalking victim in all situations, these two girls were similar. Both were pretty and quiet ladies, the kind of young lady who inspires protective instincts because they don't speak up. Both were intelligent, both were hard-working, both were good with people. And they had no defenses against their stalkers. I don't mean guns, either. If either of these girls had a gun, they would have reacted exactly the same way. They hadn't been taught to insist on good treatment.

Neither would complain at first. Either they didn't see the dangers ahead or--much more likely--they didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. They didn't want to inconvenience anyone.

Stalker no. 1
One girl's stalker was a regular customer who would hide in the store and watch her for hours when he wasn't asking her for assistance. Because she was working, she felt she had to help him. When this continued, day after day, she became unnerved. She was being confronted, asked for life details, delayed in serving another customer, or worse--did not have another customer so she could escape. Months went by, and this woman got desperate. Finally she literally ran, crying, to the employee lounge. By then the stalker had left. But of course he returned. It took us a while to identify him--he did not look obscene, or geeky, or homeless, in fact he looked clean, middle-class, and reserved. But once we did recognize him, we got rid of him. We walked her to her car at night before and after.

Nobody should be tortured at their job. And in her case, a reluctance to hurt feelings, put anybody out, or make a fuss caused her months of extra torture.

Stalker no. 2
The second young woman was stalked by the husband of another employee. This made it difficult for her to recognize the problem, put anybody out, make a stink. She finally came running back into the store from the parking lot, in tears, holding a greeting card and a gift which had been stuck on her car. This was a make-up present from her stalker, since she had tried to handle it herself--alone. Since another employee's husband and feelings were involved, this was messier to fix but essentially went the same way--he was thrown out, she was escorted, and so forth.

Nobody felt put out by either one of these young women. Nobody.

Innumerable Sots
In IrishTown, a little prosperity came back to the neighborhood in the form of bars aimed at the student population. I would be washing dishes at night and see some couple walking to their car. The male was invariably more drunk than the female. He would be barely standing up, leaning against the brick of the old furniture store to urinate. The woman would wait in patient silence. That was bad enough. Then the male would invariably use the car keys to get in on the driver's side.
There is an old-fashioned ideal that  'a low voice is an excellent thing in a woman'. But the world is different than the ideal and always has been. Your girl goes to college, to dangerous streets, encounters robbers in grocery stores or men with access to date-rape drugs. A low voice has never been enough for a young lady. Not even a shotgun is enough, if she's too shy to use it.  You can insist your daughter have good manners, but she also has to know that good manners do not cover every situation.

She has to be able to say what is not acceptable to her. So that means, loving and old-fashioned fathers, your girls have to know the standards they should expect. They also have to review these 'what-if' skills. They have to practice saying things you hope will never, ever, need to come out of their mouth.


Edith Bunker said...

Excellent advice! Hopefully my daughter will be better equipped than I.
Trying not to hurt feelings and cause trouble has occupied WAY to much of my time. Despite my lengthy education I am still occasionally (often) blindingly stupid.

Ann T. said...

Dear Mrs. Bunker,
Someday we will have to swap stories on the "avoid trouble for the wrong reasons" contest, and I may just have you beat.

Thanks for writing in!
Ann T.

Unknown said...

Noooooooo, bet I gotcha both beat. BET!!

There is something for you on my page Ann T. ;)

Ann T. said...

Dear peedee,
Knock Me Down Again!
How very nice!
Ann T.

Unknown said...

I feel like I'm beating u up lately. lol

Ann T. said...

I Love my award. But it doesn't fit in my sidebar. I had to put it on the bottom. Still working on the Fabulous Fifteen post.

Angel cake,
Ann T.