Creeped on by Red Cross volunteer

This time of year, with the beautiful weather, many people are outside.
Including the “charity muggers” down town en force; you’ve probably seen them on a corner near you, armed with binders of information on their good cause and pleas to morals, asking for a minute of your time and a small monthly donation.
I usually try to be polite to them, if I have time, and explain that I know and appreciate their organizations and work but don’t have a steady income.

Today was different. I got off the bus, and noticed the guy with a red cross vest and ID badge.
As he walked by, he said “nice scarf!”. I turned to give him the “I know the Red Cross rocks but I’m in a hurry and don’t have money” spiel, but before I could could begin,
he asked “Do you know why I stopped you?”
“To tell me about the Red Cross,” I started
“No, because you have the most beautiful eyes.”

By that point I was very uncomfortable and mumbled something about having to go meet friends. I don’t often get this kind of unwanted attention so blatantly, even though so many guys seem morbidly sincere-like they think women actually like this.
Pro tip: don’t compliment total strangers multiple times when they’re trying to go somewhere. Some people, some times appreciate a kind word; this was not the case here (about appreciating or about the words being kind.)
The whole thing was even weirder since it coming was from someone who I assumed was volunteering for a good cause.
Another conflict for myself, despite all I’ve learned about assault and misogyny, is that this is the second time in this neighbourhood that men have thrown unwanted words at me when made an effort to look nice that day. Confirmation bias, I know; there are plenty of days I make an effort to look good and am not harassed, and plenty of days I’m dressed comfortable and casual yet don’t have the luxury of invisibility from creeps.

To end my story the scuz then had the nerve to ask,
“Do you have a minute?”
“NO” and I quickly turned the corner and walked off.

2 responses to “Creeped on by Red Cross volunteer

  1. I think that you are right to feel ickiness in this situation. But, it does raise a question about compliments. What is a nice, polite way to interact with a stranger (say a cashier) without using a superficial compliment?

    Without knowing the person, I can’t say “Wow, you are so intelligent.” Or, “You are such a great parent.” And, it would be weird to say “Wow, you really know how to work that scanner.”

    So, I will often say something like, “You have such an infectious smile.” (Since they do have control over that.)

    Guess that I should just stick to “Have a nice day!” Although, this just seems so trite.

  2. Another thing you can do is simply ask people ‘Can I pay you a compliment?’ Sounds bizarre, but only because we live in a world in which it’s not often done!

    And of course, the kicker is that if the person responds ‘No’ or doesn’t respond at all, then you must take the signal that they’re not interested in what you have to say and move on.

    As you said, it’s nice to interact with friendly strangers but the prevalence of street harassment means that we need to understand people’s apprehension.

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