When I was 19, before I went away to college, I worked 2 jobs. The 1st was at a restaurant (still had the 1st job I’d gotten when I was 16). I worked there Monday thru Friday, days. The 2nd job was at a department store, no set schedule just random nights and weekends. One day, at the restaurant I had a table that had a single male at it…okay, that happened a lot, I worked the lunch shift and this was a no brainer. I waited on him, that was it. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this table until I gave the guy his bill. As I gave him his tab he handed me a note. That’s when it fell outside of the ordinary. It took me a second to register in my brain that this guy had just given me a note, A NOTE…are you kidding? That is so not part of the routine of waiting on tables, it stopped me in my tracks for a second, just a second, then I walked away to tend to my other tables. I shoved the note in one of my apron pockets as I walked away. The restaurant had a cash register for people to pay at. My last contact with any patron was always presenting them with their tab, then they’d leave the table, pay at the register and leave the restaurant. This guy didn’t leave. That was bad on two counts, how am I going to make dollars if I can’t turn and burn the table and the whole OMG-is-he-really-waiting-for-me-to-respond-to-this-damn note thing. While noticing that he wasn’t leaving I also noticed that his eyes were on me every second I was on the floor. That was pretty creepy and waitresses do NOT have time for junior high drama crap.
In passing, I told a co-worker about the situation and she immediately asked me if he was cute and asked me what the note said. I told her that I didn’t know if he was cute or not, he was a patron, not a potential date and that I hadn’t read the note, didn’t want to, I just wanted him to leave. She then asked me which table, I told her, she checked him out the next time she went onto the floor and came back to me with “read the note”. I read the note, it started with “I don’t normally do this….” and ended with him asking me out, with a lot of flattery in between. Okay then…really? Note-guy was obviously much older than I was (and at that point in my life “much older” meant he was probably in his mid to late twenties) and had asked me out by way of a note. A note. I think the last time I’d been asked out via note was in 7th grade. Hey, what’s not alluring about being asked out by way of a note, right? Right, there was no chance of me ever going out with this guy.
Generally when someone asked me out, they would ask me for a certain night. Next Friday, a week from Tuesday, didn’t matter because it was easy to just say “rats, can’t, I have plans for that night”. After a few times of being asked and “having plans” they’d take the hint. I couldn’t do that in this situation…wasn’t asked for a date on a certain night, he had asked me if I’d go out with him “sometime”. When someone asks you if you will go out with them sometime…it really means “ever”. Will you EVER go out with me? Okay, I had also been asked that before but that was always by guys that I was friends with and because of that I had the opportunity to let them know that I never wanted anything to ruin our friendship and could tell them I’d go, but as a friend. I didn’t have the opportunity to use that plan either because I didn’t know the guy. I couldn’t think of another out. I had to go back out there and inform this guy that I would never go out with him or , I was afraid, he’d never leave. I used to be a much nicer person, I used to care about other people’s feelings. I was young and naive and it was hard for me to blatantly hit the reject button. Had this occurrence taken place in my 30’s I could have looked him in the eye and said “not if I were dead”. I was only 19 tough, hadn’t enough experience behind me or nerve enough to feel good about turning someone down without an excuse. Still had to do it though as he wasn’t apparently going to leave until I answered his note. Stupid note, stupid guy, he should have gone to Perkins for lunch.
I didn’t have a plan as I was walking out to the table to reject him and was wondering why he was asking me out in the 1st place so that’s what came out of my mouth when I reached his table. I let him know that although I was flattered (I wasn’t, I was irritated but was trying to be polite), he didn’t know me at all and that I was wondering why he’d asked me out. His response was something on the line of him agreeing with me that he didn’t know me but that he could tell by my personality that he’d like to get to know me. Back to waiting on this table was nothing out of the ordinary. I certainly didn’t flirt with note-boy or even crack jokes…what exactly could he know about my personality by being a patron today? I asked him that, I really don’t remember what his response was but it wasn’t an understanding that I was turning him down so I informed him that I had dating rules for myself. One of those rules was that I didn’t date anyone who wasn’t a friend of at least one of my friends. I didn’t know him, I had no one who could tell me if he were a good or bad guy, I wasn’t going to go out with him. He said he was sorry to hear that and finally left. Big whew came out of me. Problem solved, continue with life.
I lived at my parent’s house at the time and way back then there were no wireless phones, no caller ID, no cell phones, the stationary phone rang. Every house had a hub and phones were generally in the hub area. The one in my parent’s home was between the stairs (that lead into the living room) and the kitchen. That’s where most people in the house hung out. The phone rang, there were a few of us in the hub and someone answered it and handed the phone to me. Anticipating that it was someone I knew that was calling me, my “hello” was genuinely friendly. In return I was asked by an unfamiliar voice how I was and what was I doing on Friday night. I do the “cover my ass” thing by instinct and let the caller know that I was fine and that I had plans on Friday and then asked who was calling. Apparently the others in the hub had noticed the tad confused look in my eyes and heard my question because all eyes were on me. In answer to my question I was given a name that I couldn’t associate with anything. I need to stop the story here and say that one my goals in life has always been to NOT worry my parents. This makes me a bit hypocritical because I want my children to come to me with any issues they come across. My expression and my question lead the others to look at me in a quizzical manner. As stated, I was given a name and although I didn’t recognize it I spouted out “oh yeah! how are you?” That took the eyes off me and I pulled the phone cord as far as I could to get away from everyone to tell this person “I don’t know who you are”. The person on the other end of the phone told me that he was the one who handed me a note at the restaurant. Apparently I hadn’t cared enough to take in his name. He started out as note-boy and ended up as stalker-guy and I can’t, to this day tell you what his name is. Not that I didn’t end up knowing it at the time, I just don’t care enough to remember. Of course I was shocked and asked him where he’d gotten my phone #. He didn’t tell me where he’d gotten my number and asked me how I would ever get to know anyone if I didn’t go out with them. How could I ever get to know someone if I never gave them the time of day, the chance to get to know them. While he was asking me his questions I was still doing the math trying to figure out where he’d gotten my phone number from. The fact that note-boy had called me at home creeped me out. I’d already written him off as a done deal.
After that he kept calling me. Not just at my parent’s house. He called me wherever I was. I’d go out with my co-workers and I’d get a call at the bar or restaurant we were at. I managed a softball team at the time, the players were my co-workers. I’d post games, dates, times and where we’d go after the games. I’d get phone calls at the places we went after the games. Post, at the time meant I’d put something up on the bulletin board at work. Someone would have a party and post the time, date, address and phone # and we’d all show up. I’d get phone calls there. Someone would have something to celebrate and post “let’s all meet at” and we’d all show up and I’d get phone calls there. I’d work my 2nd job and get phone calls there. As stated in previous blogs, I am attention deficit. That worked in my favor for a while, I could blow it off and not think about it because my focus was always elsewhere, until it got to be too much. He only called me at home when I WAS home so apparently he knew when I was home and then add the calls EVERY effin place I was at…trust me, it became a focus. I got scared. For different reasons most of the people I grew up confiding in were scattered. I realized that this had become an issue and I did have to pay attention but didn’t have anyone I was close to, that I could bounce this off of at the time so for a while I didn’t tell anyone. I just got scared.
Ef me for always, always trying to be polite and brush him of in a nice manner. He always asked me about my family and mentioned them by name. That’s not normal, how the hell would he know my family members? He was also always all about the how are you ever going to get to know me if you don’t go out with me thing and so he’d tell me about himself. I never paid much attention to whatever he was saying (because I was always trying to think of a way to politely get off the phone) but I did hear him say once he’d been in Viet Nam. Another time I heard him say that he owned land up north so I asked him if he was a hunter. I was thinking that if his response was positive I could tell him that I never dated hunters, not true but how would he know? His answer, and this still sends willies down my spine, was “………well……no……not…not…not since the war”. My head had always told me to stay away, that statement made my head scream HANG UP! MOVE TO FOREIGN COUNTRY! At that point I decided that he had to be one of the guys that came back deranged and that’s why he wanted to go out with me. Most of the Viet Nam vets that I’ve met have been fabulous people. I had read about a few that have been a tad off kilter and I really should have understood and been sympathetic to his hesitation to hunt since being in Viet Nam but instead it threw my creeped out status into overdrive. But really, com’on, he was stalking me…of course I took it the wrong way. It was at that point that I decided that I needed to talk to someone about this stalker-guy. It had gone farther than I could deal with on my own.
I had a friend, that I worked with and had gone to hs with, named Jeff, I trusted him. One night when he and I went out I laid this whole story on the table. I’ve never been a male, Jeff was obviously a male, I was hoping to get a little insight. He thought it was weird that the guy called me where ever I was, he thought it was odd that the guy knew the names of my family members, he didn’t think the hunting story was creepy and he thought I should be nice and go out with stalker-boy, even if just once, just so I could give him a chance and reject him afterward. He felt bad for him. Retrospectively, one of the reasons I don’t consider male opinions in my options any more.
Jeff told me not to worry so I tried not to. He said I should just be nice and so I tried. This was a scary situation for me and the only one I was trusting to help me through it was apparently a dumb ass. He was looking at the situation from the male rejection point of view, not from my point of view of I’M AFRAID! HELP ME! Jerk. A week or so after our initial conversation about stalker-guy, I went over to Jeff’s apartment and while waiting (outside in the dark) for the door to buzz me in someone jumped out of the bushes at me. SCREAMED! Wait, I’ve down played that a tad… I SCREAMED and SCREAMED and SCREAMED and SCREAMED! It was Jeff and his friend, Steve. Jeff said that he’d thought it would be funny. Um, not so much when a very questionable Vietnam vet knows too much about me and can call me wherever I am. Color me stupid in three areas: for not telling my parents, for not calling the police and for trusting my friend, Jeff. In the end, after multiple conversations with Jeff and his assurances that all I had to do to get rid of stalker-guy forever was to date him once, I agreed. I agreed but only if Jeff and Steve would be at the same place at the same time at a different table and rescue me if needed.
I’m a firm believer in going with your gut feeling. The night came that I was supposed to date stalker-guy and I couldn’t do it. I was completely frightened. I was at my 2nd job and knew that I just couldn’t go ahead with things as planned. Stalker-boy was supposed to pick me up from work. Doom and gloom seeped into my entire being. I called Jeff from work and told him “no, no, no, no, no….I can’t do this, pick me up”. That’s when Jeff caught on the fact that this might not be a good thing for me. I don’t know if it was the fear in my voice or what that finally got him to think that hey, maybe this just wasn’t something that would be in my best interest. As soon as I hung up the phone, both he and Steve left Jeff’s apartment and I informed my supervisor that I had to leave work immediately. They were 5 minutes away. I left work 30 minutes early. Jeff and Steve walked into the store and escorted me to Steve’s car and drove me to my parents house where they walked me to the door and didn’t leave until I was locked inside. It’s just not a fun thing to be frightened. After that night stalker-guy didn’t call me again. I learned to breathe a little more every day that passed that he didn’t call.
A few months passed and still there were no calls from stalker-guy. Life was normal again. I was at work one day and the lunch rush slowing down and I got another table with a single male at it. When I approached the table his face was hidden by the menu. I assumed that he wasn’t someone who didn’t know what he wanted right away so I asked if he had any questions about the menu. He put the menu down and looked at me….and looked at me….and looked at me. My original thought was one of irritation. I had things to do and he was wasting my time. I asked him again if he had any questions about the menu and while continuing his stare he informed me that he only had one question, of course I asked him what it was. He asked me “Why did you do that?” Insert a moment of incomprehension followed quickly by that awful, sinking knowledge of understanding. I’m pretty sure that my eyes got very large while playing catch up. I was completely taken off guard. I’d only seen him once before and didn’t recognize him. While still stunned, I answered his question being brutally honest. He had scared the shit out of me! How was it that he could know wherever I was whenever? Why did he keep calling me knowing that I didn’t want him to? How did he know the names of my family members and where my second job was? Where did he get my home phone number? Who the hell wouldn’t be frightened and what will it take for him to leave me alone?
My little outburst was followed by stalker-guy’s eyes getting very large while he got to play catch up. I had asked these questions before, I had just never yelled them. He didn’t pay attention to my questions until he saw the fear in my eyes as I was yelling them. Do you know what happens when a server yells at a patron in a restaurant during the lunch shift? The server gets ushered off the floor by their manager.
I was utterly shaken by the reappearance of stalker-guy and my manager swept me away to his office and I spouted everything. My manager listened to me as I told him about the phone calls and knowing where I was all the time and knowing the names of my family members and the date that didn’t happen and by the end of my story I could see the wheels turning in his head. He looked at me and said “I wonder if that’s the guy Dorothy has been telling me about”. Dorothy was a sweet older woman who worked from 10pm to 6am. I never worked with her but we frequently would stop in the restaurant late at night and I’d had many conversations with her. I asked my manager if she was being stalked as well. “No, no” he told me as he shook his head back and forth. I told him that I didn’t understand the connection and that’s when he told me about the guy Dorothy had been telling him about.
Months prior and for a couple months running Dorothy had a repeat customer almost every night and always around 3 o’clock in the morning. He was very friendly and polite and had a few pleasant conversations with her under his belt before he mentioned that he’d been in for lunch one day and though his waitress was just so very nice and that he would love to take her out sometime. Dorothy had asked him if he knew who this waitress was and guess what? It was me. I know, hard to believe. Dorothy thought we would make a great match and did everything she could to help him on his quest.
Everything included giving him my phone #, reading the bulletin board posts and relaying to him all of the various activities that were going on and where and when they’d be. She told him about my 2nd job, about my family and she encouraged him a great deal. I know I described her as sweet older woman but now that I think about it, I’m probably as old now as she was then and the stupid wench should have known better.
That solved all the mysteries. I was glad to know where stalker-guy had gotten all his information from. That in itself made the whole thing a little less scary, retrospectively. Dorothy had a stern talking-to by our manager and I never heard from stalker-guy again. I’d like to say that I was never stalked again either but there was that weekend Frankenstein and his twin brother followed me all around Bemidji and the Jesse Lee guy that kept calling and sending flowers when I was in my 30’s but those are stories for another day and they just don’t compare to the fear I felt with the original stalker-guy.
Retrospectively it turned out that the day I initially waited on stalker-guy was an entire fluke that our schedules matched up. He lived entirely different hours than I did and the one, chance meeting that our hours coincided he (according to him) became so enamored with me that he started to frequent my work place