Author Topic: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?  (Read 7183 times)

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Yvaine

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2012, 08:56:45 AM »
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.

Ugh. This, absolutely. The last thing I'd want while worrying about my appointment, and whatever led me to make that appointment, would be having a stranger be cheerful at me and feeling obligated to make small talk back.

MorgnsGrl

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2012, 09:19:07 AM »
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.

Ugh. This, absolutely. The last thing I'd want while worrying about my appointment, and whatever led me to make that appointment, would be having a stranger be cheerful at me and feeling obligated to make small talk back.

Completely agreed. A lot of people have some level of anxiety about going to the doctor and/or about talking to strangers. If a "volunteer" approached me in a doctor's waiting room I would be very uncomfortable and would honestly be wondering if the guy was really a volunteer or not. I think volunteers at doctors' offices should be doing behind the scenes things, not interacting with patients (although the thought of volunteers being behind the scenes where they could hypothetically view patients' private information makes me uncomfortable, too.)

Knitterly

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2012, 09:26:39 AM »
I'm really torn on this. 
On the one hand, a Dr's office seems like an utterly inappropriate place for a developmentally delayed volunteer.  I can see why they might have a volunteer there, but it should be an adult with full comprehension of privacy and not bothering people.

On the other hand I do agree that "go away" was harsh.  I think "please leave me alone" would have been better.

You do have the right to sit in peace in the waiting room without being hit on by a volunteer, and since you knew that is where this was heading, you are right to nip it in the bud immediately.  The phrasing was just a little harsh.

atirial

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2012, 09:48:56 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.
I'd agree. People teach us how to treat them, and the OP's first encounters with this man seem to indicate that he doesn't respond to polite hints, so she needed to be direct. While she could have been less blunt, if you're in a doctor's office, under stress and in pain, I can understand being harsh. He was also rather rude to interrupt her while she was reading.

If he's volunteering, what are his actual duties? If he normally would not be working with patients e.g. an office assistant, and is still approaching them then that needs to be brought up with the volunteer manager.

kherbert05

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2012, 09:51:41 AM »
If you run into him again - I would say something more along the lines of "Bill you were told to not harass me leave or I'll call your supervisor again"


I am shocked at the number of people taking the OP to task and saying she should give Bill another chance.


  • She is in pain
  • She likely has physical limitations due to her injury
  • She is in a place were she should be safe and cared for
  • Instead she is harassed by an adult male that wants her to be her boyfriend - and he continues after being told she wasn't interested.
  • She complains about the harassment and is blown off. The fact the harasser is special needs is used as an excuse. That is a complete red herring. Special needs people can be taught correct behavior - they just have to be taught differently and more directly. If they can't handle a situation, then they should be protected by not being put in that situation. So either Bill knows how to behave or he shouldn't be a volunteer. (Yes I know cognitively disabled people are way way more likely to be the victim. That doesn't change the fact that the OP was repeatedly hit on by this man)
  • She thought that the problem had been solved. She is suddenly confronted with this man that harassed her, and I think her response in part came from a place of fear.  A fear that is justified. Her words were harsh but she didn't have a planned response ready - because she didn't expect to be confronted. She has no obligation to give him a 2nd chance he had 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances before. He burned those bridges, so did the volunteer coordinator. 
Don't Teach Them For Your Past. Teach Them For Their Future

Hawkwatcher

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2012, 10:26:01 AM »
The only reason I suggested giving him a chance to show that he had changed was because the OP's most recent encounter was a few years after the original encounters.  I do not believe she needed to be friendly but that she could have asked him to leave her alone more politely.  If he refused to do so, she could have then used harsher language.  She could also take further action with the coordinator and the HMO.

I am sorry about my poor choice of words.   I should not have used the word "chance." 

I edited this post for clarity.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 10:30:00 AM by Hawkwatcher »

BarensMom

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2012, 10:33:53 AM »
It is a Kaiser medical complex that has a building designated for same-day surgeries.  So the volunteers in the surgical building provide directions, assistance with wheeling post-surgical patients to their cars, etc.

The volunteer coordinator said that "Bill" is not supposed to be in the medical building when volunteering, which explains why I hadn't seen him in some time.  I now go to another location for my spinal appointments (partially to avoid him).  I had never seen him in that building before, so I was somewhat blindsided.  I agree I could have phrased my rejection better.

Bethalize

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2012, 10:35:32 AM »
You told him definitely that you weren't interested and you said what you wanted him to do without giving him any indication that anything else was possible i.e. you didn't say "please", which gives the other person the power.. You weren't rude in my view. In fact, that's a brilliant example of how women should handle strangers. Good for you.

Yvaine

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #23 on: December 01, 2012, 10:39:41 AM »
It is a Kaiser medical complex that has a building designated for same-day surgeries.  So the volunteers in the surgical building provide directions, assistance with wheeling post-surgical patients to their cars, etc.

The volunteer coordinator said that "Bill" is not supposed to be in the medical building when volunteering, which explains why I hadn't seen him in some time.  I now go to another location for my spinal appointments (partially to avoid him).  I had never seen him in that building before, so I was somewhat blindsided.  I agree I could have phrased my rejection better.

Well, on some level I'm glad to hear they haven't actually instituted jolly greeters in the place, and that he was just wandering around where he shouldn't be.  ;D But I'm sorry you had to deal with him again!

jpcher

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2012, 10:55:06 AM »
I had a response written out about how OP should have at least said "Please, go away" then she posted her update.

With the comment:

I now go to another location for my spinal appointments (partially to avoid him).

I completely agree with kherbert05's response and:

You told him definitely that you weren't interested and you said what you wanted him to do without giving him any indication that anything else was possible i.e. you didn't say "please", which gives the other person the power.. You weren't rude in my view. In fact, that's a brilliant example of how women should handle strangers. Good for you.


You did what you had to do, BarensMom. Your response was perfect.

WillyNilly

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #25 on: December 01, 2012, 11:00:42 AM »
I think you did fine.

There's a guy, about mid-40's in my neighborhood, and there's clearly something off about him.  He occasionally takes the same bus I do, although its been about a year or two since I last saw him.  When I was seeing him more frequently he would often cut the line - frustrating because occasionally the buses fill and they have a 'no standing' rule, so a line cutter can legitimately mean someone is 15 minutes late as they wait for the next bus.  Then I saw him in some yelling matches with people.  From what I've observed he's a fairly pleasant person, until he is 'corrected' or told not to do something, then there is no middle ground, he goes right to outrage and indigence.  Once he was walking and yelling at two other guys "I'm going to call the cops on you!  You can't tell me what to do!"  and the other guys, clearly trying to keep their calm responded "no you may never say that to a woman, shut up and leave us alone."  The guy in question keeps yelling and gesturing about "you can't talk to me like that!  I'm going to call the cops!  You're just [insert racial expletive]s, you cant tell me what to do!" The other guys are trying to keep calm and they are still walking - away - and just repeat "shut up and leave us alone."  The guy came right up to me and another woman - really close to us - and yelled "take out your phone!  Call the police!  Those guys need to be arrested!"  I said "no thank you", the other woman shrugged.  The guy started to yell in my face again "call the police!  Call the police!" A big guy from the bus line had stepped up by then and pulled out a wallet with a shield and said "walk away NOW" to him, he backed off a bit but kept yelling about the police and pointing down the block and saying the guys needed to be arrested. The bus then came and we all walked past the guy in such a way as to not allow him on the bus and that was the end of it.

A week or so later, I was on the bus and this guy got on at the next stop, not our usual stop.  He came and sat right next to me.  I don't know if he recognized me or not, but he started to try to have a chat with me.  I didn't even look at him, I just said "I do not want to talk, do not speak to me" firmly and probably with a nasty tone.  I wished I could have said "go away" but its a bus, where's he gonna go?  (Actually he did get up and move seats.) I know the woman in the seat in front of me thought I was unduly harsh, but I don't care.  I am not responsible for that guy's nice day.

And if he sat next to me on Monday, a year or two since I last saw him, and tried to speak with me?  I'd be harsh again without hesitation.

Just because someone is special needs does not mean we need to cut them some slack in every situation.  Yes cut them slack if they dress a bit weird, or prefer eating everything with a spoon, or speak a bit differently, or whatever.  But once they start with interpersonal interactions, that's the line for me where I don't need to put up with it.  Special needs does not mean "nice" or "harmless", and I am under no obligation to speak to anyone just because they approach me.

gramma dishes

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #26 on: December 01, 2012, 11:18:53 AM »
May I ask the same question that at least a couple of other people have asked?  What purpose does having a "volunteer" serve in a doctor's office waiting room? ???

To me being approached by a male (or female for that matter) total stranger who is clearly NOT an actual employee of the facility would be very disconcerting.  Doctor's offices don't need 'greeters'.  It isn't exactly K Mart.  So what are the volunteer's duties?  What was he supposed to be doing?

Edited:  Sorry, BarensMom.  I just found the answer to my question.  You already answered it, but I had missed it somehow.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 11:24:00 AM by gramma dishes »

lilihob

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #27 on: December 01, 2012, 11:26:14 AM »
I am under no obligation to speak to anyone just because they approach me.
This, this, this.
We woman are programmed to be "nice", even if we are uncomfortable, and this makes us vulnerable.
We feel guilty, and we shouldn't. Etiquette does not dictate responding to strangers. We teach our daughters not to talk to strangers, then as we grow into women, we are taught that it is "rude" not to.
His "special needs" are a red herring, if someone sets off your hinky-meter, you are under no obligation to interact with them.

JocelynCS

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #28 on: December 01, 2012, 11:28:22 AM »
I am under no obligation to speak to anyone just because they approach me.
This, this, this.
We woman are programmed to be "nice", even if we are uncomfortable, and this makes us vulnerable.
We feel guilty, and we shouldn't. Etiquette does not dictate responding to strangers. We teach our daughters not to talk to strangers, then as we grow into women, we are taught that it is "rude" not to.
His "special needs" are a red herring, if someone sets off your hinky-meter, you are under no obligation to interact with them.

Amen.

Aquamarine

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #29 on: December 01, 2012, 11:35:34 AM »
I think you were OK.  4 run ins with this person is way more than enough to exhaust anyone's good graces.  If he has changed or improved his behavior, you as the patient should not have to allow him to demonstrate he has changed, that is not what you are there for.  What he is doing is nothing more than harassing patients, there is no need for him to individually introduce him to patients especially one who has on multiple occasions already told him to leave her alone.  Yes the words were harsh but the 4 previous attempts on his part to engage you demonstrate, at least to me, that very firm words are needed to get the point across to this person.

No means no where you are developmentally disabled or not.  He should have said nothing more than perhaps a simple hello to you.
Always be polite, even to nasty people. Not because they are nice, but because you are.