This is not a how to. This is a cautionary tale, a retelling of a situation that I found myself in, of which I was not prepared for.
One of my jobs involves me working in a mens and womens clothing store. I work with other staff a lot but I often have hours at the beginning and end of the day, to open and close the store by myself.
I can honestly say I had never felt unsafe working by myself, my store is inside of a bustling shopping mall, where there are always plenty of people around.
Today in the late afternoon, things were quieting down in the store. The store was empty and there was less people in the shopping mall overall. Which was common for a weekday nearing the evening. The store I work in, is an odd shape, kind of L. So if you're at each end, you can't see the other end. It's annoying when it comes to watching for theft, it's an annoying store shape in general.
I started wandering the store, tidying up the racks, as you do. Right around one corner of the store. I came back around to the other corner, where the counter is, to find a man standing in front of the mens jeans shelves. Let's just call him MC, short for "Major Creep". MC Didn't actually look creepy at all, he just looked regular. Black hair, dark tanned skin and a tradies uniform. He was holding a pair of jeans, and he asked me if he could try them on.
Of course I say, letting MC into the first change room. I went back to pottering around the store, tidying, fixing racks. Generally forgetting that this guy was even in the change room really. I made my way around the store. Before coming back to an area of racks that are kind of in front of the change rooms. The rooms are visible from where the racks were, and I was facing them. Absentmindedly tidying.
Going over this, there were so many times that I felt unsure, and cautious. But let it go, explaining it away easily, as well as just not judging in general. We get a lot of weird and different customers. But there's a fine line between a bit kooky to downright creepy.
I was tidying up the rack of accessories in the store, fixing up the beanies. The rack has a mesh that hooks are attached to, so even though I was bobbed down behind it, tidying I could still see through it. I noticed that through the rack I could see the door to the first changeroom open a crack, and that MC was standing right in the crack peering out. You could see his feet as well as his eyes through the small opening. I was immediately creeped out.
I stepped out from behind the beanie rack, and MC opened the change room door and stuck his head out, waving me and asking if I could get the jeans in another size. I felt a bit uneasy, but also thought the weird watching could be explained by him just wanting another size, and waiting until I was easily flagged.
He kept talking, I can't remember what about, it was probably just about the jeans. Half his body was behind the door, he stepped further into view and I realised he was not wearing any pants. His shirt was long, and covering any trace of underwear, which I immediately assumed he was still wearing.
Explaining away the crazy again, It was not completely uncommon, for customers to not be fully clothed when requesting a different size. But never before in an inappropriate manner.
I went to get the jeans in the size that he requested, I came back and gave them to him. Still waiting, half dressed in the change room with the door cracked open. He started talking to me again, calmly, normally asked me if I could also get him some blue jeans for him to try on as well.
For this conversation I was maintaining 100% eye contact, because well he had no pants on and I was already feeling uncomfortable. But your vision doesn't just block out what you're not looking directly at, you can still see it, you're just less focused on it.
MC, not breaking eye contact or a sweat, whilst casually asking me to get some blue jeans for him, slowly and nonchalantly raised his fucking shirt and revealed his erect penis to me. I immediately felt my hair stand on end, and chills go down my spine.
I'm pretty sure I mumbled that I would go get the jeans and quickly hurried away. Anyone who thinks that a man, revealing his genitals to a woman without her permission is funny, needs to be punched in the face. As a girl in her early twenties, working alone in a store, having someone suddenly do this is terrifying. I am not to know what his next thoughts and plans are, is he an exhibitionist? Does he just want to flash his penis in my face? Does he plan to grab and sexually assault me next?
I stood in front of the jeans, looking for blue jeans in his size, at the same time thinking, is that really what I saw? I didn't take a second look, obviously. I wanted to explain it away simply, while I was nervously sweating. They didn't have his size. I walk back around the corner, he's still standing there unmoving, without pants, and I tell him, whilst averting my eyes, rapidly glancing around the place, still unsure what I should do. He says to get him any pair, he doesn't mind. (vomit, vomit everywhere)
I grab some random pair of pants and throw haphazardly throw them in his direction. In the gap of the door open. Even though I was unsure, in regular situations, male or female, they would no longer still have the door open, they would be trying on the pants I had got for them, not waiting and watching.
I sidled back around in front of the desk, out of view, grabbing my phone and letting myself out the back of the store. Locking the door behind me. I called a male coworker who had finished a bit earlier, in case he was still hanging around the mall, he wasn't, but encouraged me to call security. I unfortunately had to leave the back room to get securities number. I peeked really carefully from the counter to the change room, only glimpsing the fact that the door was still open to the change room.
I grabbed the number and locked myself out the back again, calling security and voicing my concerns. Security said they were on the way.
When I opened the door to go back out, MC was standing back in front of the shelves of jeans. Holding the two pairs. I told him that he could put them down, I would fold them later. He said "sorry I didn't have any luck, it's hard to find pants." and then he left.
I'm sorry this post got so long. Today was quite frightening for me, and I will probably have a nightmare related to it. I had to submit a report with security, and describe MC. Whilst talking to the security guard I spotted MC in the food court and pointed him out.
The guard walked past him a few times, "making his presence known" quote the guard. MC supposedly hurriedly left the centre soon after.
And that is the end of the story. The security guard walked me to my car at the end of my shift, as it was dark outside. My first experience in retail dealing with a Major Creep, and hopefully my last.
Even after going over it I don't know what I would have done differently. Called security earlier maybe. I still don't think I would have said anything to MC. What would he have done if I had called him out on it?? I don't want to know.