We’ve all met one. Some are obvious, and stand too close or smile just a little too much at you with eyes that seem like they’re looking at a piece of cake. Others spring up on you mid-conversation when they ask if you are married or what would happen if they just happened to marry an American while studying at your university or if they could have your phone number. Some are students, some are parents or uncles, or women, and some are just randos who somehow get in to the event with no intention of study abroad for themselves or anyone they know.
Then there are those who go above and beyond to win the award of creepiest person you’ll ever meet. Those who you need to call security on.
I came across that award-winner today in Chandigarh, India. It was a fair like any other, and overall I talked to some really great students. Then there was one who seemed like a possible MBA student candidate, right up until it was obvious that he hadn’t registered for the event, and then again when he asked for my Whatsapp and Facebook contact, and then again when he nonchalantly told me that he was a model (and waited for my impressed reaction…I was not impressed). I didn’t think anything of it at the time, because okay, maybe he came late and his registration hadn’t shown up in the system just yet. And okay, he’s being weird and flirty but let’s just say no to sharing my contact, brush it off, and move on to the next student.
At the end of the event, which went an hour later than scheduled because of how many students came late to speak with me, I packed up and headed through the lobby of the hotel where the event was to go up to my room. Who should jump up as I walked by and follow me to the elevator? Mister Creepy Model Dude. I thought maybe he had a question, but he just followed me into the elevator. So then I thought okay, he’s probably going down to the parking level. Nope. He pressed the restaurant level, and when we got there he didn’t get out but instead let the door close. That’s when I started to get nervous. Up we went to my floor. All the while he was making awkward, personal, and uncomfortable conversation to which I ignored.
The doors open at my floor and I pressed the lobby button for him as I stepped out and said goodbye, but of course he stepped out and tried to follow me further. At this point my anger took over. I stepped in front of him so that he couldn’t get past, kept the doors open and pushed him back into the elevator, and very angrily told him he needed to go back down. Thankfully he didn’t push further, though he did reach out with his palm facing upward, as if to shake my hand goodbye perhaps.
#Metoo is a world-wide issue. Instances like this are so common that I didn’t even have time to feel scared in that moment, only angry. Men need to be taught as boys the difference between what is appropriate and what is unacceptable. And Hollywood needs to stop making movies that make it seem romantic to follow girls they’ve only just met, as if it were some big wonderful gesture. And women need to stop acting like that is in fact romantic, when really in the moment when a stranger is following you it’s actually just incredibly scary. I have no obligation to smile and permit creepiness, and stalking is not a compliment. It is simply an act that makes me feel uncomfortable to leave my hotel room for the rest of the night.
So no, Mister Creepy Model Dude. No handshake for you. And you bet your bottom dollar that if you do apply for our program, I’ll be sure to let our admissions office know just how little you respect women’s boundaries.