Author Topic: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?  (Read 7186 times)

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BarensMom

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #30 on: December 01, 2012, 11:37:37 AM »
The PP about the man on the bus reminded me of someone who lived across from my parents.

Johnny lived with his grandmother and his father in a house across the street from my parents.  He was around my eldest sister's age, but had a mental age of about 12.  He was always trying to hang around my middle sister and her friends.  When he would show up, my sister and her friends "had to go into the house."

The reason wasn't because he was different.  One night when I was around 7 or 8, a neighbor lady came to our house after dark asking for help.  Johnny had hit her over the head with a pipe and tried to r**e her.  She managed to get away and run to our house, with him following her.  My father went outside and found him in front of our house, still with pipe in hand.  The ambulance and police were called, the neighbor lady taken to the hospital and Johnny was taken away.

After some months, Johnny was returned to his father and grandmother's house.  With that, the neighbor lady turned her house into a fortress and lived as a recluse, seeing only my mother and a few other people until she died several years later.

cheyne

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #31 on: December 01, 2012, 12:05:24 PM »
Inappropriate behavior is inappropriate behavior no matter who is doing it.  With the background on this man, I don't think you were rude, just blunt.


Darcy

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #32 on: December 01, 2012, 12:21:51 PM »
While I initially thought you were rude, his past behavior was very inappropriate, whatever the reason, and you are under no obligation to give him a second/third/fourth chance. Excusing such pestering behavior can be dangerous, as BarensMom's story illustrates.

Emmy

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #33 on: December 01, 2012, 01:08:07 PM »
There is a lot of middle ground between being too accommodating and awfully rude.  I don't think a woman or anybody should feel forced into a conversation to be 'nice', but I also hate the idea that being rude is considered acceptable if the person has not crossed any boundaries.  A person can say they are not interested in conversation firmly and without being rude.   

I got the impression from the story that the OP hadn't been there or seen Bill in several years, although I wasn't clear on that.  I think she could have clearly and politely stated she wasn't interested in talking without being rude.  She could say something like "Nice to meet you.  I am really not interested in talking", then look the other way or bury her head in a book.  Only if he persisted, "go away" would have been appropriate.   If the OP had her 5th run-in several days after a previous one, I can understand her reaction. 


WillyNilly

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #34 on: December 01, 2012, 01:46:06 PM »
There is a lot of middle ground between being too accommodating and awfully rude.  I don't think a woman or anybody should feel forced into a conversation to be 'nice', but I also hate the idea that being rude is considered acceptable if the person has not crossed any boundaries.  A person can say they are not interested in conversation firmly and without being rude.   

I got the impression from the story that the OP hadn't been there or seen Bill in several years, although I wasn't clear on that.  I think she could have clearly and politely stated she wasn't interested in talking without being rude.  She could say something like "Nice to meet you.  I am really not interested in talking", then look the other way or bury her head in a book.  Only if he persisted, "go away" would have been appropriate.   If the OP had her 5th run-in several days after a previous one, I can understand her reaction.

But the problem is, it wasn't "nice" to re-meet him.  Lying to this man that interactions with him are pleasant won't do anyone any good.  Many posters (just picked this one because it was most recent) have suggested what I think are overly friendly and positive suggestions of what she could have said.  But the reality is its not "nice" and it shouldn't be treated as a pleasant interaction.  Nor was her telling him to go away a request, so "please" would be inappropriate.  She hasn't seen him in years in part because she was actively avoiding him.  That's how terrible the interactions were with him - she actively took steps to avoid this guy.  And this is at her Dr's - a place where she should feel safe and comfortable and not like she has to take extra steps to not be harassed.  Every previous interaction was harassment.  At some point doesn't it get to be about her comfort and not his?  Why should she suck it up and be nice and pleasant to him, when he is not being nice and pleasant to her?

Allyson

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #35 on: December 01, 2012, 01:49:31 PM »
I'm a little torn. I absolutely agree with all the comments that women are programmed to be nice, and shouldn't have to put up with harassment and abuse. But I'm not sure that *in this case* this falls into that category. I don't think that just because of those 'be nice' expectations, there should be *no* need for any politeness, and one shouldn't even say 'please', to someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, which is a vibe I'm getting from some posts.

That said, I think a doctor's office, where people are likely in pain and so on, should really only have volunteers who might expect the occasional snappish person. I can imagine a lot of situations where a volunteer poking their head in in that way would be really not well received.

The special needs part is difficult. Sometimes when I'm on the bus a special needs man will start talking to me. In the mornings I am usually really really not in the mood for conversation, nor am I particularly good at these kinds of interactions. I usually come away feeling both encroached upon and rude. So, I'm not sure what to do there.

gramma dishes

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #36 on: December 01, 2012, 01:49:59 PM »
...   At some point doesn't it get to be about her comfort and not his?  Why should she suck it up and be nice and pleasant to him, when he is not being nice and pleasant to her?

I agree and would go a step farther.  I can see no legitimate reason for this 'volunteer' to be working in the proximity of patients at all.  It seems entirely inappropriate.  This situation would make me uncomfortable even if I had had no prior interactions with this man.

boxy

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #37 on: December 01, 2012, 02:20:46 PM »
My friend just went through cancer treatment and the hospital volunteers were horrible!  We ended up putting signs on his room door asking them (politely) to please not enter the room. 

Example:  My friend was having an NG tube inserted when a volunteer burst into the room.  No problem, she didn't know what she was interrupting, this could happen to anyone.  However, her words and attitude were very abrasive, "What's going on!"  The RN looked up and said, "I'm sorry but this isn't a good time, we're right in the middle of a procedure."  The volunteer strode further into the room and shouted, "I've got your newspaper!  Here!  Take it!" and flung it at me.  I wasn't quick enough to get up out of the chair and catch it before it scattered everywhere.  The RN was not happy and apologized profusely.  That was just one example of bad manners and intrusiveness.  So when it comes to "being rude" to volunteers at the hospital I'm one for hearing the entire story before judging.  I think the OP did fine.

doodlemor

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #38 on: December 01, 2012, 02:27:49 PM »
...   At some point doesn't it get to be about her comfort and not his?  Why should she suck it up and be nice and pleasant to him, when he is not being nice and pleasant to her?

I agree and would go a step farther.  I can see no legitimate reason for this 'volunteer' to be working in the proximity of patients at all.  It seems entirely inappropriate.  This situation would make me uncomfortable even if I had had no prior interactions with this man.

Several close friends and relatives of mine have worked with disabled people.  They have stated to me that one of the goals in working with them is to *teach them how to act socially like other adults,* so that they don't annoy others or stand out in a crowd.  I have seen group home workers and their charges in our local super market, and it was obvious that the aides were doing this - teaching the disabled how to shop and behave like adults in public. 

IMHO the young man shouldn't have been loose in a doctor's waiting room as a "volunteer" without any guidance.  If this were some sort of therapy, then someone should have been there to guide him.  By his previous behavior toward OP, it is apparent that he is on his own.

I've never, ever, seen a "volunteer" in a waiting room before.  I really wonder if this "volunteer" thing is something cooked up by the man's parents, that *they* think will help him, and gets him out of the house for a time.  I wonder if they are friends with some of the doctors involved. 

Normally you would have been close to rude on the brusqueness scale, OP.  In this case, however, you did what you had to do. 

I think that you need to contact your doctor about this person, OP.  He has shown to be a bit of a stalker in the past, and made very inappropriate comments to you.  It sounds like he could easily target someone else.


Slartibartfast

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #39 on: December 01, 2012, 02:28:12 PM »
There is a lot of middle ground between being too accommodating and awfully rude.  I don't think a woman or anybody should feel forced into a conversation to be 'nice', but I also hate the idea that being rude is considered acceptable if the person has not crossed any boundaries.  A person can say they are not interested in conversation firmly and without being rude.   

I got the impression from the story that the OP hadn't been there or seen Bill in several years, although I wasn't clear on that.  I think she could have clearly and politely stated she wasn't interested in talking without being rude.  She could say something like "Nice to meet you.  I am really not interested in talking", then look the other way or bury her head in a book.  Only if he persisted, "go away" would have been appropriate.   If the OP had her 5th run-in several days after a previous one, I can understand her reaction.

He did cross a boundary, though - he came up to the OP and introduced himself in a manner that suggested he wanted her to sit and talk with him.  That's not appropriate in a medical setting - it would have been fine if his introduction had been as she was walking in and he said "Can I help you find the lab you're looking for?", but that's not what happened.  I would be kind of weirded out by any guy who did that to me as I was waiting for a medical appointment - I've never just gone up to someone in a waiting room and introduced myself with the offer of a handshake.  It's just not done.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #40 on: December 01, 2012, 02:35:50 PM »
It's not a patient's job to make nice with an obnoxious volunteer who repeatedly has harassed  her. I'd tell my doctor about it and tell him to make it stop.

Joeschmo

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #41 on: December 01, 2012, 03:26:51 PM »
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.

POD

demarco

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #42 on: December 01, 2012, 03:54:50 PM »
BarensMom, you did nothing wrong.  Clearly, this fellow's past behavior demonstrated that nothing less than bluntness, if even that, would get him to back off.  I would have done the same had I been in your shoes. 

Iris

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #43 on: December 01, 2012, 04:00:42 PM »
^Also podding Lilihob and others. I think you were fine.

Incidentally, one thing I learnt on a course one time is that if you have had manners drilled into you to the point where you are uncomfortable leaving off "please" and "thank you" but need to speak forcefully is to say "You need to go away now, thank you" rather than "Go away, please". The reasoning being that "please" is added to a request or a favour, whereas "thank you" is allowable when there is no doubt that our request will be honoured (e.g. "yes, thanks" to a retail worker asking if you want fries with that, but "yes please" when a mother asks their child if they want fries).

Anyway, not relevant here because I don't think the OP said anything wrong, but just a general tip. I use it all the time at work and it really does have an effect.
"Can't do anything with children, can you?" the woman said.

Poirot thought you could, but forebore to say so.

bonyk

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Re: Dealing with a "flirtatious" volunteer - did I handle correctly?
« Reply #44 on: December 01, 2012, 06:39:55 PM »
He had trampled boundaries in the past.  That day, he was in a waiting room he was not supposed to be in.  I think if you had been any less abrupt he would never had gotten the message.