Warning: A story describing harassment from a group of men is described. Nothing graphic nor violent in any way, just actions and inappropriate questions and statements are described.
A week and a half ago, I started working night audit at a local hotel. First off, I am probably super under-qualified for this job. I was hired on the spot because the general manager liked my smile and thought my resume was amazing. My interview was anything but that, it was more like a pre-orientation. So needless to say, I should have known from the start how this job would go. Fast forward to now. It is my first night shift alone. I am working from 11 pm – 7 am all by myself. I am working on the numbers all alone. I am the only employee for the entire night. So already, nerves were high. Well, I get to work about 30 minutes early. A tactic I learned early on in life to help reduce anxiety. I adjust to my surroundings while in the safety of my car. Well, I was supposed to do this. However, a car full of men thought differently. They pulled up into the spot next to me and began honking their horn at me. I, as the trained woman I am, ignored them. They left. Once again, being the smart woman I am, I decided to leave my car and walk into the lit and public lobby of my hotel. As I was walking, they put their car in reverse and gunned it towards me.
Immediately my heart dropped. I felt cold. I ignored them as they stopped next to me and began slowly inching towards me. I kept walking. I needed to keep walking. They noticed me ignoring them, and they backed up into a spot. Once in their parking spot, they began honking their horn at me. It sounded like they just had their hand pressed down on the horn.
I made it inside my job and told my coworker what happened. I tried my hardest to sound tough. I didn’t want to seem weak on my first night alone. I didn’t want to be that girl. However, right after I finish describing what just occurred, my coworker called for housekeeping to bring me the rape whistle. She talked me through how to use it and all. The men had already come back in while housekeeping was grabbing the keys. They made eye contact with me and smiled to themselves, proud. My coworker asked me a series of questions ranging from what did they look like to did I feel threatened. I lied and told her no to the latter. Once again, I wanted to feel tough. Nothing had happened, just guys being dicks. After giving me the whistle, I was set on my own; to spend the next 8 hours alone, holding my whistle scared.
The men came down at one point and started asking me if I was married. I lied and said, “not, but I am engaged.” This was met with “I see no ring, he won’t care if he doesn’t know.” I glared as strong as I could and told him to leave. He walked away, mumbling to his friends.
That was the last time I saw those men for the rest of my shift. I sat behind the reception desk and began thinking more and more about what just occurred. It hit me just how natural my actions were. I knew to look forward and ignore everything around me. I never questioned it or my actions. When I went inside and told my coworker what happened, I was met with a natural fluid motion. No hesitation. Housekeeping understood immediately, and a whistle was brought out in seconds. Then I was left on my own. When they asked me personal information, the lies about my engagement flowed out my mouth as natural as can be. This should not be the case. I should not be this well trained to handle inappropriate old men. I wonder at what age do girls start to pick up on these cues. When does it become second nature to defend ourselves? When do we become conditioned this way? Why was I afraid to tell my coworker that I felt unsafe? Why did I fear being looked down upon because they made me nervous?