Unwanted Attention from Other Adults

Parent Q&A

  • Getting hit on at drop off

    (15 replies)

    So my wife is getting hit on by another father during drop-off of our kid at school.  It makes her feel uncomfortable.  She's 90% sure he's hitting on her.  Any ideas on what to do?

    Some details: What's complicated, to me, is that he's an ex-cop, and that doesn't sit well with me.  He does drop off, or the child's maternal grandmother. Never the mom.  It's making my wife uncomfortable during drop off, making her think twice about her outfit (she's on her way to work after drop off), because he's commented on her appearance.  I think he's creating an uncomfortable environment thus I think of it as a form of harassment.  I can't do drop off regularly b/c of my commute.  Through the school directory everyone knows where everyone lives; it's a neighborhood school where we live (but they don't).  The other child is nice, we'd like our kids to be friends- but right now? no way.  What to do? I'm thinking she or I should raise it to someone?  Grandmother?  a teacher?  Or, to him, "Sure, let's do coffee- I'll find a time my husband can join us and I'd love to meet your wife..." then never schedule anything?  Then escalate, if needed: she confronts him privately next time it happens: "Are you hitting on me?  Please stop."  Ideas?

    And I don't even feel comfortable leaving my username here. I feel the fact that we're not talking about it is precisely how this sort of thing is perpetuated.  She's quite bothered by it, and I fantasize her telling him to knock it off in front of his daughter; or telling the grandmother about her son-in-law.  Of course, trying to maintain a sense of propriety we don't.  And we don't want to rile him up.  But he's causing the problem, and it continues.  

    RE: Getting hit on at drop off ()

    I think she should tell him precisely using "I statements" what he is doing that makes her uncomfortable and ask him to stop. " I feel very uncomfortable when you comment on my appearance. Please stop." She doesn't need to accuse him of hitting on her. He would likely deny it and then insult her in some way. Guys like that are on a power trip. It's all about him taking control and making her feel helpless. Of course, it's unpleasant to confront him. If I were her I'd practice in front of a mirror and with you or a friend. I think getting anyone else involved isn't necessary unless he is actually getting physical or saying overtly sexual things. But sounds like he's savvy, he's doing just as much as he thinks he can get away with, getting his thrill while not overstepping enough to get confronted. She needs to let him know clearly and calmly that it's not ok. If it progresses from there she can get other people involved. Sorry she is dealing with this unpleasant situation but think of all the other women she will be helping by calling this creep out. 

    RE: Getting hit on at drop off ()

    If she had already confronted him several times and the guy's behavior continued, trying to figure out who else to tell might be appropriate but at this point I think it would create a whole bunch of drama where it might not be necessary.  The first place to start when a guy is behaving this way is to assume the best of him (ie—he's not meaning to harass or power-trip, he's just flirting) and then to address it directly.  "Hey, guy, I'm not interested. I'm happily married. Please stop talking to me."  And then ignore all further comments by him. Behave as if he does not exist.  I have been hit on my entire life (as have most women) and I can assure you this approach works the majority of the time.

    If it does not work and he continues to make inappropriate comments after this or if he escalates things, I'm less sure what to do (him being a cop does make it feel more tricky.) But maybe start with your wife just telling him to leave her alone.

    RE: Getting hit on at drop off ()

    Keep it simple, keep it clear, set a firm boundary to back off. Should be relatively easy unless it's mutual or being entertained in some fashion. Doesn't seem like a good fit for play dates unless arranged with the mom or grandmother, wouldn't recommend; too many other kids to play.

    If your wife is that uncomfortable with his interactions or comments, best to shut down and stand clear or future actions could be misnterpreted. By the way, not saying something to him makes him thinks it's "Ok". With current climate and state of affairs surrounding Meetoo movement the silent must take responsibility and speak up, confront and smash any possible idea of harassment. Skirting around issue can lead to HUGE problems, drop the hammer now!

    I don't have to "play nice" if I am feeling uncomfortable or violated!!!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

How to get this guy to leave me alone on my 30-minute walk commute?

Oct 2014

I'm an Oakland mom in my mid-30s and my commute to work is a 30-minute walk along Broadway from my home near Pill Hill to my office downtown. I love my walk but recently have been getting some unwanted attention that's making me contemplate taking the bus (ugh) and would love some advice from BPN.

About a month ago, I was on my way home when a guy who was also clearly commuting home asked me about the free Broadway shuttle schedule. I told him that it comes about every ten minutes but it's usually faster to just walk and then went on my way. The next day, the same guy caught up to me and introduced himself and politely chatted for a few blocks - long enough for me to drop that I am married with two small children (so, hence, unavailable). I was pretty businesslike, and I figured that would be the end of that.

It turns out that he lives two blocks away from me (he doesn't know exactly where I live) and works three blocks south of me, and in the weeks that have followed it's happened several times that he catches up to me at some point on my walk and chats until we get to where he turns off. I wouldn't mind this at all if he were interesting to talk to, but he is dumb as a brick (and also not at all cute--I think I'd be flattered and appreciate the attention from someone more attractive). I don't feel at all threatened or even like he is being inappropriate since he clearly just wants to talk and seems a little lonely - I just don't really like him in any way and don't get anything out of talking to him. He's younger and childless and definitely not someone I'd be friends with.

Obviously there are some avoidance strategies like pretending I'm on the phone every single time, but does anyone have any better suggestions for how to get this guy to leave me alone? Taking side streets would add enough time to my commute that I'd feel really resentful doing it, and I'm loathe to deal with the extra expense and pointless waiting of taking a bus for only 15 blocks. Want my walk back

Hopefully this can be an easy fix. If you were a public transit commuter you'd know this trick, but wear headphones every day. Maybe even get some big ones (vs the kind that go in your ear). Then, if he tries to talk to you, just purely say that your commute is your chance to relax, gear up for your day, and have a break from work and the kids and you really just want to listen to to your music. Unless he's very inappropriate, that should solve things and I'd hope he'd stop trying to catch up to you. Good luck

Ugh. What a tough situation. Have you tried using headphones? Perhaps the big, obvious ones will be enough of a sign to leave you alone, or you can at least ignore him. If he insists on talking anyway, perhaps a polite ''I'm sorry but I don't feel like talking right now'' will suffice? Feel your pain

Whenever I can't get things done at work because people are bothering me about trivial crap, I wear large headphones (not earbuds). I plug them in to my pocket not even bothering listening to music much of the time. I think walking in Oakland with loud music playing on headphones is actually a little dangerous - you need to keep your senses unimpeded, so I recommend quiet music or faking it. Works like a charm for me. Maybe add sunglasses so you can pretend you didn't see him. Or leave 10 minutes earlier. Good luck headphone faker

I tend to be very non-confrontational, so maybe just start wearing earbuds like you're listening to something? And then when he tries to chat you up, you can say something like, ''oh, sorry, I just started this great book on tape, I can't stop listening, it's so good. See ya later.'' And then do this all the time and hope he takes the hint. I'm sure you'll get lots of people telling you to be direct, but maybe this can be a good first attempt at getting your nice walk back. Maybe he'll find someone else to bother. Passive Agressive

It seems like you have contemplated every strategy except the obvious -- telling him clearly what you want.

''Hi. I know we walk the same route sometimes, and talking to you is lovely, but I need to use my commute to work to plan the many tasks of my work day, and on the way home to review the day and plan for the next, so I'd really prefer to walk alone. Nothing personal, but I've found that if I spend the time talking, I end up arriving to work unprepared. Also, with a busy work day and two kids at home, it's really the only time I have to be alone with my thoughts. I'm sure you understand.'' You can say what you want without being hurtful

What a bummer! I get what you mean! You don't want to be rude but... I would bring music to listen to. Or you can just put on head phones and make believe that you are on a call and put 1 finger up and point at the head phones when he walks up. Let him know you have extra work to do; conference calls, meetings, must listen to reports from boss every morning now. You can also go to an earlier bus? Lastly, you can say your husband does not feel comfortable with you walking with a man, he's the jealous type!! Ha! I don't know! Good Luck! j.

Sometimes telling the truth is the best way to deal with something. As a friend of mine said, ''just deliver it gently''. You might let him know that you are doing a version of walking meditation and that you value your time to reflect and set your day. Appreciate his kindness, and request a quiet walk to work. If delivered with compassion, this should do the trick. Julie G

You could explain to him that as a wife and a mom, this is your ''me'' time and you need it to relax and just be with yourself. Maybe use your earbuds and listen to some music or meditation, at least til he gets it. It might take him a while, however, he should eventually get the point. Or you could just tell your husband and he could speak to him, that should get the point across with no doubt in the guys mind and I'm certain he will never bother you again. I know if I told my fiance, he would be more than happy to have a word with the guy if he didn't leave me alone. Ecla

How about an I-pod and some REALLY big Bose earphones? I have to say as someone whose commute takes 1.5 hours down the 880 and 2 hours back up the 880, that your commute sounds HEAVENLY to me, unwanted attention or no. wishing I could walk

I suggest varying the time you leave for work and leave for home so it is harder for him to find you on your walk. But I also suggest compassion. If you don't like him, probably no one else does either. His time spent with you may be precious to him. It could be the only time he spends with a friendly human. Perhaps you can teach him to read the news, watch current movies or develop a hobby so that he has something interesting to say. Consider it your good deed for the day to help this man become a better person. Anon

I had a similar experience with a guy who took the same bike commute route as me. It wasn't quite as bad because he would only talk to me when we were stopped at lights, but it was irritating. I never figured out how to get him to leave me alone. If I were walking, I'd just put on headphones. You don't even have to listen to anything. If he still tries to talk to you, you could say that you're listening to a book on tape, or trying to learn another language or something and your walk is the only time you have to listen. anonymous

You don't seem to have any reservations about dismissing this person as a non-entity, so why not have the courage of your convictions and just tell the guy not to bother you? I don't get the problem

Based on what you have written, I'd suspect that this situation would not lend itself to a direct approach. In a similar situation, I once told the guy: ''I don't want to interact with you.'' That made him mad. Fortunately, I never saw him again. But weird guys who can't get a date are more likely to be armed these days...

So there are a number of strategies that you might employ, one at a time or in combination.
- You could vary your time of departure every day.
- You could take different routes in random sequence - another evasion technique, but the situation you are trying to avoid.
- You could borrow a large, hairy young man to walk along with you. I am thinking of my 25-year old unemployed son, who is always willing to do urban walkabout for exercise. Ask the moderator for my contact info if you want to take me up on this. A few glimpses of my son should scare off your Lothario.

It cannot be ruled out that this man who is working his way up to hitting on you has some sort of Asperger's-like social deficit. But it is still not your problem to have your privacy intruded on in this manner. Amelia

you are probably right, he sounds lonely. you have a couple of options. You can take pity on him and let him chatter at you on the way home and try to get used to it. You can change your schedule and head home 30 minutes later (probably not realistic given your family's needs) You can explain to him nicely that between your job, the kids and the hubby; walk home is the only time you get a chance to hear yourself think and you really would rather walk alone with your thoughts, your music, by yourself. probably honesty would be best for everyone involved anon

Ugh. What a tough situation. Have you tried using headphones? Perhaps the big, obvious ones will be enough of a sign to leave you alone, or you can at least ignore him. If he insists on talking anyway, perhaps a polite ''I'm sorry but I don't feel like talking right now'' will suffice? Feel your pain

Why don't you just tell him, straight up, that you prefer to walk alone? You can give any sort of excuse you like -- you need the time to relax from work, you need it to get ready for what needs to be done at home, whatever works for you. Since you clearly don't think much of him, it's best to let him know early on that you do not want to be friends. Karen