Author Topic: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?  (Read 7174 times)

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BarensMom

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Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« on: December 01, 2012, 12:46:28 AM »
Did I handle this situation correctly or was I too harsh?

This past Monday, I had an appointment with my HMO PCP.  I checked in, went into the inner waiting room, and started reading a magazine.  This man came up to me, stuck out his hand, and said, "My name is Bill, I volunteer here on Thursdays."  I just glanced up from my magazine and replied, "I'm not in the mood for conversation, go away."  He huffed a bit and left the room, leaving me with a few people who gave me the "what the ...., lady?" look.

There is a background:  A few years ago, when I was going through the worst of my back problems, I was visiting the spine clinic at least once a month.  One day, Bill came up to me, introduced himself, and started talking to me.  The first time, I thought he was just a friendly volunteer, the second time, I thought it was a confidence, the third time, he stated that he was looking for a girlfriend and what about it?  I replied I was married and not interested.  I thought that would be the end of it.  The fourth time, he approached me again and asked me if I would be his girlfriend.  I reminded that I told him I was married and not interested.  He persisted until I was called to the back, at which point, I told the nurse about him.  After that, I didn't see him again until Monday.

I called the volunteer coordinator and informed her of my run-ins with Bill, and asked that she do something to stop him from bothering women, or at least me.  She told me Bill was a special-needs person (which I had guessed) and he was very proud of being a volunteer.  I said I understood, but I still would like to visit that facility w/o fear of being pestered.  She promised to talk to him/his parents.  The whole exchange left me feeling that she thought I was overreacting and should have been more understanding due to his disability.


Raintree

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2012, 01:10:44 AM »
After reading your first paragraph, I thought you were very rude, but after reading the background, I changed my mind. Anything less blunt and you'd have been pestered again.

Rusty

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2012, 01:18:00 AM »
I had to read this several times over before I decided that yes I do think you were a little harsh.  You said it has been several years since you last saw "Bill".  He would not remember you and have no idea why you were being so rude to him.  I do understand how annoying your last encounters with him would have been and it should have been handled appropriately by the person involved in his mentoring.   But, sometimes special needs people do not have a filter and become over enthusiastic.  Perhaps a kinder response would have been to tell him you prefer to be left alone, but thank him for his concern.   

Hawkwatcher

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2012, 02:15:08 AM »
Considering that a few years had passed, I think that you may have given him the chance to show that he changed.  His parents and the volunteer coordinator may have addressed Bill's behavior and he may have improved.  You could have nicely told him that you didn't feel like chatting.  Had he continued to bother you, then you could have gotten harsher.

But I do not blame you for being annoyed by your first experience.  You were a patient who sitting in a waiting room and were in pain.  You should not have to deal with the additional stress of having this man hit on you.

johelenc1

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2012, 02:33:38 AM »
What does a volunteer do at a doctor's office anyway?  That seems like a very strange place for a special needs - or any other - volunteer.

BC12

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2012, 05:18:11 AM »
"I'm not in the mood for conversation, go away."

I'm trying to think of an instance where this would have been an appropriate thing to say to someone, and I don't think this was one of those instances. The "go away" part seems particularly mean. There are better ways to convey the same message. "Hi Bill. We've met before. Have a good day." If he kept talking, you could have said, "That's nice, Bill. I'm going to go back to reading this magazine, but it was nice talking to you."

What you said may have been a fine response in other situations, like if he were a man who had been mercilessly harassing you. But we should give people with special needs a bit more leeway. I get that he was inappropriate with you a few years ago. All he did at that moment was introduce himself and you responded rudely.

I don't blame you for being annoyed, though. You shouldn't have to deal with being hit on by volunteer staff while visiting your doctor. That is a legitimate problem. But honestly I think the proper thing to do in the future is to be civil to him and later express your concerns to the doctor's actual staff. They need to know that he's making patients uncomfortable.


cicero

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2012, 06:24:37 AM »
I think you were unnecessarily harsh

you knew (or surmised) that he was a special needs person. all you had to do was say "that's nice, I have to read this now" or something, without saying "go away". And I don't think he was being flirtatious - not in the "grown up" sense. he most probably was trying to be friendly.

you certainly have the right to visit your doctor without being pestered, but i think you could have handled this better.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 06:27:07 AM by cicero »

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lilihob

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2012, 06:26:43 AM »
I am on your side. I do understand that "Bill" is developmentally disabled, but he is still a grown man. A grown man with grown man hormones. You are obviously his type. He has harassed you in the past, and went straight up to you this time. He may not remember you as a person, but he is attracted to you. I am disgusted by this idea that developmentally delayed people can't behave in acceptable ways, they can! And it is insulting to both them and everyone around them, to "no big deal" it when they behave badly.
I am fairly sure that if someone sat him and his parents down and said,
"Bill, you are a volunteer here, it is a very important job, people come here to get better, and you must never ever ask a patient to be your girlfriend. You must understand that no patient can ever be that for you, so don't act that way."
He would understand, and if he doesn't stop, he can't volunteer anymore.
I have spent time with people of all kind of disabilities, and I have seen an alarming correlation between awful behaviour and over-indulgent parents/supervisors/care-givers.

RingTailedLemur

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2012, 06:32:35 AM »
I think you did fine.

This man harassed you and you defended yourself appropriately.

I'm surprised so many posters are saying you should have been "nicer" to him.  At which point can we be blunt and forceful with a harasser/abuser/stalker?  He had his chance to be treated with kid gloves and blew it.  He knew full well to leave you alone and didn't.

Rusty

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2012, 06:52:30 AM »
To RingTailedLemur, I am surprised at your attitude considering the byline under your logo.  I agree that to be harassed at a medical appointment would be annoying, but considering several years had elapsed since the last incident it appears to me to be an overly harsh retort.  If Bill harassed every woman in the same way as has been presented, do you really think he would be allowed to work there.  If it was a one-off incident at the time, then I think it should be treated as such.

RingTailedLemur

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2012, 07:22:07 AM »
It wasn't one-off, the OP says it happened several times.

I thought your snark was harsh and unneccessary.

heathert

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2012, 08:03:19 AM »
I think you should be more firm but maybe phrase it as "Bill, we've met before and you need to leave me alone."  Others may disagree but I don't think the OP needs to give him another chance just because he's disabled. I'm certain folks wouldn't advocate another chance if it was a person who didn't have any disabilities.

buvezdevin

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2012, 08:06:58 AM »
I understand you being bothered, though I do think your reply to Bill could have been just as firm without saying "go away".

Like a PP, I am wondering what volunteer function Bill is supposed to perform - the idea of volunteers being around to chat with folks waiting for a medical appointment seems odd to me, unless they were trained to be sensitive to patients who may not want to chat, which is clearly not the case with Bill.

As your call to the volunteer coordinator seems to have been met by a response which prioritized the feelings and needs of volunteers above the feelings and needs of patients, I would contact the management of the health care provider.  They may want to reconsider the scope and "services" provided by the volunteer program.
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
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perpetua

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2012, 08:30:39 AM »
You were incredibly rude.

Penguin_ar

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2012, 08:44:12 AM »
I think you were harsh.  The "go away" part really wasn't necessary, after so many years.  That being said, I think you were understandably harsh, between the history and ther stress of being in a doctors office.

I have never encountered a volunteer in a doctors office, is it a regional thing?  Last thing I would want is chat pleasantly to someone while I am waiting for what may be an unpleasant appointment.