Chapel of Optimal Life

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ADVICE: Dear Angel

I am a young man who has a job as a teller in a large bank. I am supposedly starting at the bottom and working my way up. The work is actually quite interesting, dealing with the public, who never cease to amaze. I have never had to be on stage, as it were, and mollify the irked, joke with the friendly, be efficient with the hurried and then balance out at the end of the day.

I actually have a small problem there. I'm over almost every day, anything from a few cents to a few dollars. Not good since this indicates I shortchanged some customers. So I may be on shaky ground at my job here.

But this isn't why I'm writing you.

I hate to add more fat to this fire, but your very objections may make the bank hesitant to 'relieve you of duty' for your overages.

My immediate supervisor, Cliff, is a short, jolly man of maybe thirty. He supervises a sizable line of tellers about two thirds male. He comes up behind all the young tellers puts his hand on our shoulders, sometimes our waists and breathes on our necks and talks very close to our ears.

He doesn't do this to the older men or women tellers.

Since there are more young males than young females, naturally he cuddles up to more males. Cliff is very likable, well liked by the brass and the customers and the tellers as well. Only one other guy and I seem to be bothered by his actions.

Cliff isn't an out of the closet gay but he also doesn't seem to have any girl friends.

Jeff, the other objector, and I have both indicated our irritation by pulling away or shaking off his hand, as best we can while seated behind a window, but Cliff doesn't apparently notice.

Is this harassment? Is this sexual harassment? Is it worth sabotaging our nascent careers to complain?

Uneasy teller

Dear Uneasy,

Touching didn't used to be harassment, it used to be "friendly". But Cliff's actions certainly meet today's standards for harassment, probably sexual harassment.

First step is for you and Jeff to take Cliff aside and tell him that you are uneasy about being touched by anyone except family and girlfriends. You could mention that some authorities might mistake his friendliness for sexual harassment. If this confrontation makes you nervous, write out a script ahead of time and refer to it, if necessary.

If he has a brain in his head, he will get your message and desist. Document time, date and everything you both said and his replies. You can and should take notes right in front of him.

If he doesn't desist, then you both have to go to his supervisor, documentation in hand, and again use the line that some authorities might mistake his friendliness for sexual harassment.

Do not, in either meeting, suggest that Cliff is gay. That might give him grounds for a slander suit.

If Cliff's supervisor asks you if you think Cliff is gay, say you are not experts and have no opinion on that subject. Do not let the supervisor push you into an opinion. Once you have given the 'no opinion' answer, wide eyes and shrugs are all you need for an answer. And, again, document time, date and everything you both said and the replies right there.

And if you have to go to a third level, do it.

I hate to add more fat to this fire, but your very objections may make the bank hesitant to 'relieve you of duty' for your overages. There is a lawyer out there who would take this case on contingency. If the bank is this dense, then I suppose they deserve it.

Please don't get dollar signs in your eyes. Try the direct approach and learn another lesson about dealing with difficult people.

Success to you both,




Doggone True


Did you ever notice when you blow in a dog's face he gets mad at you? But when you take him in a car he sticks his head out the window.
~Steve Bluestone

To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.
~Aldous Huxley

They never talk about themselves but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation.
~Jerome K. Jerome

Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that is how dogs spend their lives.
~Sue Murphy

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
~Roger Caras

The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's.
~Mark Twain

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