Trying To Get A Stranglehold In The Office

, , , , , , , , | Working | September 4, 2019

As a child, I frequently had other people grab my shoulders and back to jump up on me and put me in a chokehold or even straight-up use a jump rope to try to strangle me. This was a near-daily occurrence and resulted in me being sent to the hospital more than once, and I have scars on my neck from a few particularly bad incidents. The teachers and administrators at the school where this was happening refused to do anything, but that’s another story entirely. The short of it is that I spent about five years getting strangled on a near-daily basis.

As a result of this, I have C-PTSD and cannot stand to have people touching my shoulders and upper back, especially from behind, unless I’m very close with them, and even then, they ask for permission before doing it. Occasional brushes don’t seem to have as severe a reaction, but anything firm is a wild card. The result of someone touching — and especially grabbing — me there has a variety of outcomes, and there seems to be no correlation between the situation and the severity of my reaction. If I and the person who touched me are lucky, I’ll just freeze up for a few seconds. If we’re both unlucky, I swing at them.

When I started my new job, I explained all of this to HR, including that despite years of therapy, I’ve had very little improvement, and they cleared me and said I wouldn’t be held liable by the company if someone grabbed me and I had a severe reaction to it. Pretty much their only requirement was that every other month, I provide receipts from my therapist as proof I was still going, and we had to make a formal document describing my condition and their assurance I wouldn’t face retaliation for it. When my boss learned of my condition, she was kind enough to move me from my cubicle to the office next to her so it would be less likely that someone could accidentally “sneak up” on me. I also have mirrors on the wall across from the door — which I keep open — in case I’m turned away from my computer, and I have a sign next to my door asking people to please knock if my back is turned.

One coworker just flat-out does not get this. Every time he greets me, it’s by grabbing my shoulder or putting a hand on my back, and even though I’ve asked him to stop and informed him of my condition multiple times, it continues. There are times it feels he even goes out of his way to do it. It’s gotten to the point that even my coworkers who only know that I don’t like my back and shoulders being touched, not the extent of my condition, tense up when they see him next to me.

A couple of days ago, it happened again, but he was completely behind me and I had no way of knowing who it was that grabbed my shoulder. Instinct kicked in, and I spun around and punched him in the throat, then again in the nose. A few coworkers came over to help calm me down and get me seated in a corner so no one would be capable of touching me without me seeing first while someone else contacted HR. The coworker who kept touching me without my permission got there first and told them I walked up and punched him without a reason, and three people from HR ended up coming over to the area I work in.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to say a thing. My other coworkers vouched for me, as did a supervisor who knows the extent of my condition and has seen me talk to the other coworker about boundaries and why I didn’t want him touching me there multiple times. All three of the HR employees were furious.

Later that night, when I got home, I found a bruise on my shoulder where he grabbed me.

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Harassment Meets Dismemberment

, , , , , , , | Working | August 24, 2019

My best female friend is a waitress at a small restaurant. Just another waiter and the owners man the kitchen. My friend is very obviously of Asian descent and her coworker has been harassing her, telling her that he has never slept with an Asian girl and that he wants her to be his first. My friend repeatedly reports him to the owner, but he just tells her that she can live with it.

I’m at her restaurant waiting for her to finish her shift when her coworker makes yet another inappropriate comment. My friend, red with anger, approaches him and hits him as hard as she can in the groin. The guy is in so much pain he can’t breathe, and my friend grabs his hair and pulls him towards her and says, “If you ever talk to me like that again, I will make sure you’ll leave no kids behind.”

By this moment, one of the owners has come out to see what’s going on, and quickly realises what happened. He shouts at my friend that she can’t do that, and that her coworker is in so much pain he can’t even breathe. Her answer? “If I can live with his harassment, he can live with the pain.”

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This Little One Knows How To Get Ahead

, , , , | Related | August 14, 2019

(When my niece was born, I had a shoulder injury that prevented me from picking her up. Instead, I’d put my forehead to hers and say, “Headbutt!” Fast forward a few months. I make it through PT and am away a couple of months for business. One of my first visits is obviously to see this adorable little one. When she sees me, she immediately reaches up to show she wants to be picked up.)

Me: “Oh, hi, [Niece]! Aren’t you still adorable?! Have you grown bigger since I’ve bee– F****** s***!”

(As soon as she reached level with my face, she reeled back and then slammed her head into my mouth, headbutting me with all the force her tiny body could muster.)

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Not What You Expected Skinny Noodles To Be

, , , , , , | Working | July 8, 2019

(I am at a mall and decide to get lunch at the food court. I’m not up for fries and don’t feel like eating meat, so I take some fried noodles with veggies at a place with the usual westernized Asian fare. I get a plate and pay, then start to eat. After a couple of bites, I feel something in my mouth and pull a very long, thick, black hair from my mouth. I’m not the most squeamish person, but my appetite is gone. I decide to tell the lady who served me and is currently turning over the mountain of noodles they keep on their flat stove. She is not wearing a hat or hairnet, and has, well, quite a long, thick, black ponytail.)

Me: “Hi. I ordered these noodles and found a hair in them…”

(Almost before I can finish my sentence the lady barks back at me.)

Server: “That is not my hair. That is your hair. You put it in the food to get more free food!”

(I have a braid, but my hair is brownish-blond at the outgrown roots and a faded red in the lengths. It’s obviously not mine. The black hair is so thick, you can see it coiled on top of the yellowish noodles without having to look too close.)

Me: “Well, I can’t tell you whose it is, but it’s not mine. And I don’t want…”

(“…any free food; I just wanted to let you know!” is what I intend to say, but she again loudly speaks over me.)

Server: “No! You fat Germans always just want more food! Eat half and more, complain, and get another plate free!”

(She then TOOK THE PLATE from the counter between us and CHUCKED THE REST OF THE NOODLES at me! I instinctively stepped back but got some on my shoes nonetheless. I moved awkwardly and slipped on the saucy mess, falling rather unlucky on my hand. It hurt. A lot. I started crying and felt very shaken. A couple from a nearby table came over and some others got up, as well. Somebody told me to get up and sat me on a chair. Meanwhile, the server was shouting stuff in a language I didn’t understand. A guy in a suit from mall management came over and asked if I needed an ambulance. The man from the couple helping me talked to me, told me he was some sort of sports coach, and asked to see my wrist. He gently prodded it and moved it, proclaiming that it was probably not broken but I should get it checked anyway. I declined the ambulance; the suit-guy got me an ice pack from somewhere. They stayed with me until my boyfriend could pick me up, as I was still quite queasy, to drive me to the emergency room near our home. In the end, nothing was broken. The owner of the Asian shop contacted me through the mall and apologised a lot. He said his sister was going through some rough personal stuff and just snapped. I was almost sorry for her. But I will never enjoy Asian noodles without a bad feeling in my bones.)

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An Alarming Response

, , , , , | Friendly | June 19, 2019

(After a drink at a local bar, my friends and I head to a local all-night burger restaurant for a bite to eat. My friend realizes his wallet is in the car, and it’s pouring rain. To get to his car more quickly, he tries to leave through the back door instead of the front and sets off a horrible, wailing alarm. The staff is very understanding but at a loss for what to do. A key is needed to shut off the alarm, and the manager has gone home for the night. While they call him in, my friend, who feels terrible, is standing in the rain, holding the heavy door open so the sound is muffled inside the restaurant. The staff informs us that the manager will be in soon and drops off our food. A minute later, a drunk customer from another table stumbles up to us. We recognize him as a patron of the bar we have just left.)

Drunk Guy: *angrily* “Who did that?”

Me: “We’re so sorry–”

Drunk Guy: *pointing at me* “Was it you, girlie?”

Me: “No, it was my friend, but it was an accident–”

(As I’m speaking, he grabs my glass of water and takes a big drink out of it. He then proceeds to lean forward and spit the mouthful of water back into my face. My friends leap out of their seats, his friends rush over to pull him back, food and drinks are knocked everywhere, and I’m standing there in shock, dripping.)

My Friend: “[My Name]! Are you okay?!”

Me: “My… my glasses…”

(It was all I could think to say. As the staff ran over, the drunk guy ran out of the restaurant, hopped in a car, and drove away. The cops were called immediately and got there just after the stunned restaurant manager arrived with the alarm key. While they were both interviewing me and my friends, the drunk guy drove back into the parking lot and was promptly arrested for assault and DUI. His friends were apologetic and tried to pay for my meal, but the restaurant had already remade all of our food and comped it. We pooled all the cash we had between the four of us to tip the staff, who were nothing short of amazing the entire time. I’m not sure what the moral to this story is. Look out for alarmed exit doors?)

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