I commute every day to work. My commute consists of taking the T, the commuter rail, and then finally a shuttle bus to work; vice versa on the way home. The first week of this there were no bubbles, no troubles.
During the second week, however, the driver of the shuttle bus on my commute home took a rather persistent liking to me. I dealt with this in the only way I really know how for the next few weeks: polite smiles while pretending to either be on the phone or overly interested in the music playing through my headphones.
Unfortunately for me, there was only one other person who rode the shuttle bus at my time, and he didn’t even always take it. Due to this unfortunate circumstance, I was usually riding solo. When the shuttle bus driver realized this, he became more aggressive than passive with his overtures, even going as far as to bang on the walls of the bus when I would pretend I couldn’t hear him calling to me from the back of the bus. Under his scrutiny and constant badgering I became very uncomfortable and started lying in an attempt to get him off my back.
I told him that I had a boyfriend, did not live in Boston, and was unavailable at all times of the evening because I commuted home to Connecticut every single day. (Anyone who knows me also knows that I am a terrible liar, despite my best efforts… especially when being put on the spot) He was relentless, constantly asking for my phone number, my address, or a date.
I finally decided that I shouldn’t have to put up with this every day, but instead of confronting him as any normal female would do, my non-confrontational self decided to stay at work an extra 45 minutes a day to take the late shuttle bus and avoid seeing him.
Naturally, my boss noticed this right away, and brought it up during our weekly 1 on 1 meeting. As I awkwardly attempted to explain the situation, he became increasingly distressed and I was worried I wasn’t adhering to an accurate version of events. After all… it wasn’t like the driver was stalking me, touching me, or even yelling at me… he was merely constantly informing me of his boundless attraction to me and requesting that I allow him to do something about it. According to my boss, this was still harassment.
In the weeks following my admittance of these events, my boss kept me updated on HR’s progress in dealing with my situation. Frankly, I was appalled at the level of interest the higher-ups in the company took in my situation. I was perfectly fine to continue taking the late bus and avoid any confrontation whatsoever, but my boss maintained that despite this being the first time anyone came forward with an issue like this, didn’t mean it wasn’t happening to other girls.
He also reminded me of a very important fact: I should be allowed to go to work everyday and not be made to feel even slightly discomforted by anyone.
To make a long story short, it’s looking like this shuttle bus driver may end up being fired. I was horrified when I found this out, and immediately called my father. When I opted to take the late bus instead of confronting the driver, I thought that I was taking the best path for me. The truth is, in life, sometimes the best path for you isn’t the best path for everyone.
Imagine if I had confronted him, let him know for a fact that he was making me uncomfortable, and made sure he knew that his romantic overtures were unwanted… two things could have happened:
He either would have A.) understood what I was saying, stopped his overly aggressive behavior, and allowed me a comfortable, on-time commute; or B.) understood what I was saying, ignored my request, and instigated the chain of events that are currently occurring.
Either way, he would have officially been made accountable for his actions and I would be able to go on with my life and let HR handle the situation anyway they deemed fit.
Now, since I was too afraid to speak up when the time came, I am forced to wonder if all of this could have been prevented. Perhaps he really had no idea the level of discomfort he was generating for me, and is now faced with losing his job because I was too much of a coward to open my mouth and tell him so. Who knows the effect losing his job will have on him, or on his family.
Blame is a terrible thing. My lesson learned here is that when in doubt, don’t automatically take the easy road out, because you never know how it might affect other people.
I wish I could fix this, but events have been set in motion that I no longer have control over. All I can do is be better for next time.