Today at work they had some contractors in to do some wiring in the ceiling near my cubicle. Those guys were here most of the day, and every time I passed one of them, we’d make some kind of joke or friendly comment at each other. It was nothing much, but it was pleasant and it helped pass the day.

When they were leaving, they all made sure to say goodbye to me and wish me a good day, but one guy lingered after the others had gone. This was a guy I hadn’t really interacted with very much, but he nervously stood at the entrance to my cubicle saying a long goodbye. Finally he said, “I just have to tell you, and I hope this isn’t too forward, but you’re really very beautiful. I hope this is OK, but you know, you really have this whole intellectual look going on, but you still look like a model. And you’re just really, really beautiful.”

Here’s the thing: it really did make me a little uncomfortable, just because it was so out in the open and all (although it definitely would have been more awkward had I been in an office all by myself), but not so much so that I felt the need to say or do anything to address it. I mean, really, it was a nice thing to say and all, and at the risk of sounding conceited, it’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened, but it’s the kind of thing I guess that makes me feel like: what do you want me to do with that information? How are you hoping I’ll react? I’ve complimented people on something they’re wearing, or their hair if it looks really nice, or something discrete like that, but the overall “you’re so beautiful” comment leaves me genuinely wondering how to respond.

So what did I do? I’m sure I blushed and stammered some kind of thanks, and wished him a good rest of the day.

And hey, at least he wasn’t trying to ask me out or anything, which has happened, and at which point I definitely would have alerted someone at the company to notify his employer of inappropriate conduct. This felt very polite and I felt duly flattered; I just honestly have no idea whether the whole exchange went the way he was intending it to go.

Huh.

Beautiful awkwardness

20 thoughts on “Beautiful awkwardness

  • February 1, 2007 at 6:36 pm
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    Wow. Some people would find that really creepy, but I think it’s lovely. I mean, I’ve reacted that way to people, and I’ve held back due to conventions. How marvelous to have met someone who was willing to defy them just to tell you you were compelling.

    -J

    Reply
  • February 1, 2007 at 6:36 pm
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    Well, best I can tell, he was absolutely right. As long as you don’t feel threatened I always go by the “Thank you” rule. I’m basing that of course on being a man and what to say when another man compliments me. Which I had to use at work a week ago. A bit uncomfortable, but a compliment is a compliment, right? I have no problem being complimented by strange women ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  • February 1, 2007 at 8:37 pm
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    Yeah, I didn’t take it as creepy at all, coming out the way it did. The guy was very polite and even deferential, but like I said, I just didn’t have a sense for whether he had any hopes of how the interaction would go, and if so, whether they were met. You know? I think possibly because it’s such an unconventional thing to say, I have no convention for how to respond. But then, I don’t know if that’s even important. It’s just… huh.

    Reply
  • February 1, 2007 at 9:14 pm
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    I think as long as you didn’t react by getting mad, you reacted in a way that was fine with him. ๐Ÿ™‚

    -J

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  • February 1, 2007 at 11:53 pm
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    My 2ยข
    I’d just go with the compliment and say thank you. I will say that if he’d asked me out I would have just said no and that I wasn’t available. If he’d pressed me after that in any way, then I’d have alerted his employer. I am a bit squicky about people taking what could be an innocent declaration of beauty and interest and potentially getting someone fired. Being around so many men in the construction field, knowing that 90% are respectable human beings and might just see this as their one and only chance to show interest, I worry that those in the white collar sector may be overly sensitive to what they might believe to be an actual threat. I’m not trying to tell you what you should do in your own situation, as only you can tell a person’s intentions, but I think someone would really need to step over a line to result in what could be a job ending situation. Especially when you may never see them within the workplace again.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 5:10 am
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    The best thing is to hold his gaze, pick up the nearest phone and say “security!”… don’t dial anything. Hold his gaze. Hold it. Hold it. HOOOOLD it. Wait for him to run.
    Good.

    I think we’re all done here.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 6:47 am
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    It’s difficult being lovely, huh?

    Luckily, I’m a big, hairy dude, so I don’t have to deal with that kinda thing very often.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 6:48 am
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    Oh yeah, that was me, Mister Nashville.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 7:34 am
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    considering you were in a public place and all.

    It has to be kinda strange. I’ve never quite had that problem, so i don’t know totally how to relate, but I do have to say, as a friend and neighbor and not a hitter-on’er…you are beautiful (and Karsten’s pretty good looking too, altho without quite the same effect on me (o:)

    I think people sometimes are just overwhelmed or just appreciate beauty or a kindness or a moment of grace and just feel compelled, however awkward to seize the damn moment and just say something hoping that it will be taken the right way..I really hope that is what was happening yesterday…

    (otherwise, call security!)

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 10:49 am
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    > at least he wasn’t trying to ask me out
    > or anything, which has happened, and
    > at which point I definitely would have
    > alerted someone at the company to notify
    > his employer of inappropriate conduct.

    *boggle* For asking you out?
    It’s responses like this that make guys like me absolutely paralyzed about making the first move.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 1:17 pm
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    I have occasionally passed a woman on the street and found the moment to be utter perfection, like a well crafted work of art– the light of the sun at just the right angle, the wind in the hair in just the right way, a beautiful face, and a brief look in her eyes. It’s the kind of moment that makes me feel happy to be alive. I just want to stop her, tell her how beautiful she is, thank her for that moment, and leave it at that with no expectations. Then, I would just keep walking and get on with my life.

    But I never do that, precisely because I know how much confusion and worry I will inspire.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 1:46 pm
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    I don’t think this has anything to do with anyone feeling uncomfortable making the first move —in the right context. This was not the right context. He was there to do a job. I was there to do a job. We were both on the clock. It’s not the right time to be pickin’ up chicks. To be clear, I don’t think what he did was out of line; but had he taken it to the point of asking me out, yes, I would have thought that to be inappropriate behavior while at work and especially as a contractor in someone else’s workplace, so yeah, I wouldn’t have had any qualms about letting someone know. Not because it’s in any way a firing offense — if it were the first time it had happened, the guy shouldn’t even get in trouble, per se; I’m just saying it’s questionable behavior that is likely to be viewed as unprofessional and should not be a pattern. But how is anyone going to know how often he asks women at customer sites out (in this hypothetical world) unless they know he’s doing it at all?

    I’m open to being contradicted on this, but I’m coming from a few perspectives, one of which is that, if I were the owner or manager of a company that did jobs on customer sites and one of my employees asked out someone they’d just met at the site, I’d want to know. I certainly wouldn’t dismiss that person, but I wouldn’t want it happening again — I don’t think it gives a very good impression of the service.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 1:51 pm
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    See my response to below. This is not about what color our collars are. This is about the fact that we were both on the clock, and it would have been unprofessional for him to have asked me out. Professionalism is professionalism, no matter what color your collar.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 2:13 pm
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    Okay, I’ve got your perspective. One thing though…

    Didn’t you say he’d finished his work and was leaving? Normally you don’t see him, he is not an office employee. That would make it almost impossible to see you otherwise, outside of work hours. I mean, without stalking you, which would be creepy for real.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 2:16 pm
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    I think it’s sad that it is ever considered inappropriate to sincerely compliment someone. I think it’s even more sad that there are legitimate reasons for that to be the case.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 2:20 pm
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    I know where you are coming from.
    I mean, it’d be really uncomfortable if this was a person you see everyday….but this was a one-off. Y’know, perhaps a one chance opportunity.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 2:22 pm
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    LOL

    Yeah, baby, that’s love.

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  • February 2, 2007 at 3:31 pm
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    I think your statements are interesting and worth pondering, but just to be clear, I’m not trying to say that his compliment was inappropriate. It was more that it was uncomfortable, and that was mostly because, as I said to above, I don’t really have a frame of reference for that type of interaction. I do have a frame of reference for being complimented, but not one for receiving such a large, sweeping, significant-sounding compliment that came almost out of nowhere and left me puzzled as to how to respond.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2007 at 3:36 pm
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    That works too…
    I think it’s sad that it ever makes someone uncomfortable to sincerely compliment them. I think it’s even more sad that there are legitimate reasons for that to be the case.

    Reply

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