Last weekend, I was in Philadelphia, co-running Smofcon 30, a small conference for conference planners (yeah, that does sound a little self-referential). As I still have bad insomnia, I tended to shower, dress, take my laptop and go find breakfast and free WIFI. I found a nearby 24-hour diner where I’d have an omelette and get caught up on my E-mail.
The second morning I was there, I was busily typing away when the man at the next booth got up and asked, “Can you look something up for me?”
This guy was probably 50-something and was a little scruffy-looking, but, what the hell. I’m 50-something and often a little scruffy-looking myself. “Sure.”
“I have to see if my lawyer listed my company.”
He gave me the name of his company. It was only listed in some public database of Pennsylvania companies. He had me look up a second company name, which was also just listed in the same public database.
Then he asked me to look up his name (which, while I do remember it, I will not mention it here). OK, this was getting a little odd, but, I did.
We concluded I probably didn’t find him in particular because he’s not online and his name is relatively common.
“Let me buy you breakfast.”
Now, that was weird. “No, I’m all set.”
“I want to buy you breakfast.”
A little louder. “No.”
“I insist on buying you breakfast.”
WTF!! “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” I said it loud enough that it probably echoed through the room.
The man skittered back to his booth.
I returned to my computer, and it was quiet in our part of the restaurant. About five minutes later, the guy yelled, “I have a cell phone.”
I looked up but otherwise ignored the creep. It’s just occurred to me that he might have taken my photo. Ugh.
The waitress stopped back, I asked for my check, paid it quickly in cash and got the heck out of there, taking a quick look behind as I went to make sure the guy wasn’t following me. He wasn’t.
It was annoying example that many other women experience way more often than I have – that some men are sufficiently stupid that they don’t understand the word “NO.” Women need to be rude and loud when a man doesn’t comprehend “NO.” No apologies.
Later that day, I was going out to lunch with a friend from out of the country and she wanted plain old local food. We went over to the diner, as the food was about as local as you could get. We had a very pleasant lunch. At one point, one of the waitresses stopped by and said, “You were here this morning, weren’t you?”
It turned out the guy was a known quantity in the diner and was a bit of a problem. She wanted to make sure I was OK, and I assured her I was.
Being firm to clueless men is just part of being an adult woman. If I’d had to do anything more than yell “NO” at the jerk, I bet the laptop would have been a fine weapon of self-defense.