Just a friendly reminder: Grown men hitting on underaged girls is not okay

Emma Day, Social Media Manager

Sunday nights at the gas station where I work are filled with long hours that seemingly drag on like a drama in a soap opera. In between the very few customers, I like to ogle the food we have on display, wipe down an already sparkling counter or recount the money in the drawer— literally anything—to pass the time. My level of boredom reaches such a low that a sudden influx of customers raises my spirits.

When customers come in, like any friendly public service, I am obligated to greet them, so I do. Hi, hello, welcome, that sort of greeting. Most customers are at least courteous enough to return the pleasantries. There is one customer, however, who does a bit more than that.

He looks to be in his mid twenties, a very thin outline of a beard on his chin, dark-haired, dressed in a stained hoodie and baggy dark blue jeans. He gives me a once-over, a slow gaze from head to toe, licking his lips as he does so. Suddenly, I am painfully conscious of my body.

“Hey baby,” he says, returning my greeting “How are you doing?”

As I am assisting the other customers I can feel his lingering gaze. I feel it burning the back of my head when I turn around to grab cigarettes from the holders behind me. The man enters my line with his snacks and drinks in hand, and my pace dealing with the customers in front of him slows down. I am hopeful that he will move to the other cashier’s line. His snacks and drinks are messily strewn across the counter; I pick up his items: a slice of pizza, airhead xtreme, a vitamin water, hot fries, two packs of M&M’s, and an Arizona tea, and I scan them one-by-one.

“Aye girl, you’re cute as hell,” he says. “What are you doing working at a place like this? I could get a better place for you to work.”

He continues fishing for information from me.

“When do you get off? We can go and do something if you know what I mean.”

I have lost track of how many times he has licked his lips, but the implication in his suggestion is not lost on me. My focus remains solely on ringing up his items.

“Scan it like that again. I like it when you do that.”

He winks at me.

Anyone with 20/20 vision can see that the smile plastered on my face is plastic. With each unwanted advance that falls out of his mouth, I fall more and more uncomfortable. How could someone be this blunt and sleazy? In public no less?

Scanning the last item is like the light at the end of a tunnel. I tell him the total of his purchase.

He ignores me.

“Hey, sexy, what’s your number girl? I want to get to know you better if you know what I’m saying.”

This time, I ignore him.

“That will be $7.77, please.”

“You didn’t answer my question baby girl; what’s your name?” he says.

Is it not displayed on the name tag attached to my shirt?

Through clenched teeth, I repeat myself for the third time during the one-way interaction.

He finally pulls out his wallet, which is seemingly stuffed with cash. He counts it slowly and looks up at me, biting and licking his lips, as he thumbs through it. Mind you, the total is only $7.77.

The exhibit is definitely not needed.

He holds out the money and I am careful not to touch his hand, but he meaneuvers his so that it brushes mine, anyway. He grabs me lightly, and quickly, I rip my hand from his grasp. I deposit his cash and give him his change.

“Would you like a bag for your stuff?” I say.

He smirks and wiggles his eyebrows as he says, “Oh yeah, I would love it if you put it all in a bag.”

While bagging the items, the other customers look at me with pitiful eyes, including the other person working the register.

As I give the bag to him, he once again touches my hand, and bends down to kiss it before I pull away. Company policy states I have to tell customers to have a nice day, which I do.

His response is sickening: “Girl, it would be better if you were below me.”

It takes everything in me to not react, but it’s clear by my heavy, forced breathing and reddened face that his remarks have affected me. The hard thing is moving onto the next customer and pretending to be fine when on the inside, I was truly terrified.

Without even realizing it, I had become a victim to sexual harassment.

Just a friendly reminder:
– Grown men hitting on underaged girls is not okay.
– Step in when you see someone uncomfortable.
– Don’t be a bystander when someone obviously needs your help.
– Clearly, I was in distress.What the heck is pitiful eyes going to do? Seriously? Be the bigger person and step in.