Since moving in to my new home I have not felt vulnerable. Indeed I have felt more secure and confident than I can remember feeling in a long time.

That was however until Mr Virgin Media came to install my TV and internet.

Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t threatening or aggressive, he was just REALLY flirty. Intensely flirty. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself.

I am aware that I am looking better than I have in a while, I’m fairly pretty, quite slim, and smiley so people tend to like talking to me. However… I am not so hot that men fall at my feet and go nutsy over me the moment we meet. If only. But Mr Virgin Media??

On coming in he was friendly, asked where I wanted the system set up and got on with it. He was nice, chatty. Asked why I’d moved here and I said it was because of divorce, to which he said “You must be getting lots of attention from men now”. I thanked him for the compliment but said not really. He expressed shock.

Now, this is all fine. Complimentary and a little flirty, but not inappropriately so.

Got a bit weird…

He told me I’m mesmerising, that he couldn’t stop staring at my eyes and that they’re incredibly beautiful. He said that me being in the same room as him made him shake, he showed me his hands, and said that nobody has that effect on him normally. Apologised, said he’s usually very professional, but I do something to him. When I thanked him for cleaning up or setting something up neatly, he asked me not to say thank you “Like that”. Apparently the way I say thank you is too nice and affects him. I said that I don’t know how else to say thank you, but I’ll stop it.

When he was setting up my laptop he joked about going through my internet history and started checking my past searches on google. I grabbed his hands away and told him no and he started asking what I’d been searching for that he couldn’t see. In reality nothing much, I don’t suppose, but equally so I am a woman and likely to search for things to do with pregnancy, women’s health issues, and relationship worries. Things that are private. Things I don’t want to share with Mr Virgin Media, and things I shouldn’t be in a position where I have to share them.

At one point he said he had to go outside and calm himself down because being around me was getting too much.

It was weird. It was intense. And it was in front of my daughter. Not that she minded, she happily meandered around trying to move his drills around and generally throwing toys hither and yonder. But still.

Thing is I’m pretty tough by now. I’m thick skinned, not easily offended, and generally assume that people are joking if they say weird stuff. I’m also okay with flirting, I don’t mind if people want to flirt with me, and often enjoy it. However, there are limits. If I don’t respond to flirting in a flirty way then I expect people to back down. He didn’t. I wasn’t offended or frightened but I was uncomfortable. And didn’t really know what to do about it.

It was the first time I’ve been really aware that as a woman on my own with my daughter, that I am actually quite vulnerable. Mr Virgin Media knows my mobile number and knows where I live. In theory he could get creepy. He hasn’t, and I don’t suppose he would, but the way he behaved around me implied he could.

As I mentioned before I am not the kind of “hot” that causes men to lose their heads. Therefore it’s not ME specifically he was reacting to, it was just the fact I’m a woman on my own, which means in theory he will react the same to other women. I don’t for a moment believe that he never reacts like that, as he claimed, it was just too full on. Should I make Virgin Media aware? Should I protect the future women he unleashes that level of flirtation on?

My mum told me I should make a complaint. Indeed, I’m fairly sure it constitutes sexual harassment. But I don’t think I will… for one thing, as I said before, he knows where I live. If he found out I’d complained and was a bit of a freak he could react badly and I have no desire to put myself and Miss Rose in the firing line of a man who’s ego and career have been knocked. Also at the time I found it funny, I laughed most of what he said off, and still giggle about the daftness of the whole thing and how I hadn’t a clue what to do with myself whilst he showered me with compliments and offers. I wasn’t frightened and I didn’t feel threatened at any point, but it definitely wasn’t appropriate.

When I was single before I was younger, less confident, and less able to take things on the chin. I often had no idea how to reject men and then ended up in situations I didn’t want to be in because I couldn’t turn them down. Because I was frightened of consequences. I am not that same person now and I am much more able to handle things, but equally so, it reminded me. It reminded me that vulnerability can be a scary thing, and that in reality I am. I am vulnerable.

I still enjoy flirting, and occasionally hope flirting leads to more things, but the awareness that things could not always be safe sits with me.



About J.J. Barnes

Author of The Lilly Prospero Series Writer and Podcaster at Blogger at Rose And Mum And More Contributor to The Huffington Post
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