The Cafeteria Guy

An interesting incident took place recently.  Given that I have already exposed my adult zit to the world, I feel that I can now share this story.  I don’t want everyone to only think of Stacey B as the girl with the zit, so here’s a little anecdote to balance that zit out:

Last winter, on a particularly cold, windy, wet day – I arrived to work, somewhat a mess. My outfit was not one of my favorites. It was certainly laundry week because I was down to my least favorite pair of panties and a top that is usually amongst the last chosen from the closet.  I had thrown my hair back into a bun since the weather had frizzed it up significantly.  The pants I was wearing seemed to indicate that it was time to start up the no carb diet once again, a despairing thought. In any event, my Scottish Work Friend (SWF) and I went for our usual morning routine: recapping our evenings and going down to the building’s cafeteria to get our coffee.

Recently, I started engaging some of the cafeteria workers in idle chatter.  The salad bar area offers a variety of fresh fruits, muffins and spreads each morning in addition to the make-your-own salad bar offered at lunchtime.  I find it hard not to see them replacing various food items and not say hello.  It’s the same group for every meal and I appreciate their hard work.  One of these cafeteria workers and I had the same conversation almost every morning and every afternoon.  He was a Hispanic man in his mid-40s, nice looking and very friendly.  He’d usually say to me something like, “Hello, my Friend.  How are you today?” or “You should try to the blueberry muffins. I made them.”  Once we got into a conversation about a recent trip I had taken to Puerto Rico and occasionally he’d let me practice my Spanish with him.

So that particular winter day, it didn’t seem strange that this man came up to me as I was pouring skim milk into my coffee to say, “Good morning.”  My SWF was seeking out an egg white wrap at the time, so was about 20 feet away.  For the two minutes we were separated, Cafeteria Man says the following to me,

“My Friend, I have to tell you.  You have an AMAZING body,” he said.

At first, I thought that I had misheard him.  Certainly, he wasn’t talking about my body.  This was the same body I had stuffed into pants that were too tight.  And certainly who would notice my body when my hair was frizzed up and thrown back into a messy hairstyle with my last choice top?

I looked at him, with a beet red face and said, “Oh no. Thank you, but no.”

“I’m telling you, My Friend.  It’s AMAZING,” he responded.

With that, he walked away and I was left standing there, wondering if anyone else had heard this interaction. I turned around to find my SWF behind me.  She had been close enough to see my face turn red, but not close enough to hear.

“What did he just say to you?” she asked with a huge grin on her face.

“Can’t be discussed here,” I responded. “Upstairs.”

So off we went, and I told her the conversation.  Yes, we realized this was sexual harassment.  Yes, we knew how inappropriate Cafeteria Man’s comment was.  Yes, we understood the consequences of him saying this to the wrong person.  Yes, we guessed he probably had the same line for many other females in the building.  Did I feel offended?  Not at all.

Sometimes it’s just nice to get a random compliment from a complete stranger, particularly when they’re calling my body amazing.  People sometimes tell me that I’m funny, or they like a new bracelet I’m wearing or they’ll ask where I got a shirt that I’m wearing.  Or they are impressed with the researching I’d done on a historical legal entity.  My amazing body does not usually get called out.  But I’ll take it.  I wondered if I should start dressing better since someone was actually looking, but then realized it didn’t matter. This guy liked what he saw on one of my sloppiest days.

My SWF was feeling left out, so she tried to see if Cafeteria Man would pay her a similar compliment.   She attempted to speak to him a couple of times but reported that he did not seem interested in her body.

When I told The Husband about this compliment, he was not too happy.  He was convinced that Cafeteria Man could be dangerous, wanted by the police for harassing women and kidnapping them after hours.  I told him this was not the case, he was just a flirt.

In the following weeks, Cafeteria Man went on to tell me about his beautiful wife, his kids and how much he loved to dance.  He told me about his weekend barbecues where salsa dancing took place and how he loved to cook for his family.  I started to look forward to my cafeteria visits, using them as a meter to measure how my body was looking that week.

A couple of weeks ago, Cafeteria Man told me that he was changing jobs.  He had been offered more money at a competitor’s food service department and had to take it. The Husband was relieved.  I was slightly relieved too – no more over the line encounters, but at the same time, sad that there’d be nobody to notice my body instead of my skills as a paranoid lawyer.

There was an episode of Sex and the City where Miranda, the anal retentive lawyer, was working out at the gym.  A fellow male gym goer noticed her on the treadmill and picked her up.  He called her sexy.  Miranda was shocked. She was dripping sweat through her gym t-shirt, with wet sweaty hair and was amazed that a cute stranger found her attractive.  As Miranda put it, “Sexy is what I try to get them to see me as after I win them over with my personality.”   Bingo, Miranda.  I hear you.

So, Cafeteria Man, wherever you may currently be, I have this to say: Thank you.  Thank you for making me feel good about myself when I was an absolute mess.  Thank you for giving me something else to think about at work other than Board meetings, branch office filings and meeting minutes.  Be careful on who else you compliment because many will find it offensive to tell them that they have an awesome body (hard to believe, right?).  Plus you’re probably violating all sorts of sexual harassment laws, so keep that in mind too.  That said, appreciate the ego boost. I will be sure to flaunt my awesome body on a regular basis.

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Comments

  1. This is very funny! I too do not believe it’s sexual harrassment if somebody is complimenting you and making your feel better…I say bring it on! Too bad I work with only women who occasionally comment on my earrings.

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