worried about threat co-worker made to me

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Steely, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I had to terminate an employee yesterday with my Asst Store Manager. I have only worked there for 6 weeks, so I was more of a witness, but this employee has always creeped me out since I started working there. Bad eyes, creepy body language - shifty.

    So yesterday my ASM and I have the termination talk with him, and then ask him to leave the store. He then starts making all of the crazy remarks directly, and in calculated, burning resentment towards the ASM:
    "If there is any trouble or problems it will all be your fault"
    "You should not take your trip to Mexico, you do not belong there. You should not go there, I'm telling you."
    "You should not eat the food in Mexico, or there will be problems."
    "You should never eat Mexican food again."
    And then as he was leaving, he turned to reiterate to ASM,
    "Did you hear me? You better not eat Mexican food. Period"

    I know, written, those sound rather benign.......and I know I have severe PTSD from dealing with difficult child and past stuff from his bio dad's abuse and threats, and my dad..........none the less, both ASM and I were trembling when he left. The man is obviously from Mexico, and knew ASM was leaving for a trip there soon - and he was obviously trying to scare us - but there was such a creepy, calculated manner about him, it has totally freaked me out. It was like having this conversation with Jeffrey Dahmer or something. Seriously.

    We called the police, and filed criminal trespassing charges against him for the store - but he told ASM and me there was really nothing we could do for our own personal safety except stay vigilant. As if I am not in a constant state of vigilance from difficult child!!! Just what I needed! I did not sleep all night, and when I did there were simply a succession of nightmares.

    I guess the clincher was that when I told my sister, and friends they all said "Oh, I am sure he was just trying to scare you. I would not worry about it. I am sure it is nothing." OK, granted, it probably was nothing, I think - but yet, it felt to me like it really was something. I mean, he seemed truly the kind of guy that would somehow try to hurt someone else in a vengeful act because he felt slighted.
    So when my friend said that to me, it immediately invalidated the severity of fear I really did feel, and made it seem as if I was just over exaggerating things. In fact my sister asked me, "well, does your ASM tend to be dramatic in these sorts of things?" Meaning since we were both upset and trembling, we must both be dramatizing this????

    Sigh, I don't know. Maybe it just wrenched my PTSD up a gear - but this morning I feel horrible. Fragmented, teary, jumpy, tired, and frustrated. And I am mad that this happened. I need a work place that I can feel safe, at least in theory, all of the time - because I don't feel that at home. And I felt like he was trying to take that away, and at least temporarily, he succeeded.

    Thanks for listening. I am SO so tired of abusive, threatening people. :frown:
    And valid or not, I really am scared for her, for me, for the people in our store. He struck me as a psychopath - a serial killer in the making - or already made, and not discovered.
  2. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry for you to have had to go through that.

    I think the appropriate amount of fear is whatever fear you feel. You need to be as diligent as your fear is telling you to be. Somebody not there can not tell you to be less fearful. It is your body's defense mechanism kicking in to help keep you safe. So, do as the officer said and stay diligent.

    If this starts to impact your quality of life you need to seek help from the store. I would think there is a 'usual' time frame for the fear to be heightened when something like this happens to a person. Figure out what that time frame is for you and if that amount of time passes and you are still in fear, you will need a new plan for yourself. Seek assistance at that point.

  3. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    I would follow what busywend said, think I would go to the Carribean rather than Mexico for a vacation.......he may go back to Mexico. Watch your routine and vary it so if he is watching you or manager he can't predict when or where you are going places. If you run into him at any point accidentally or not I would be reporting it to police. They can't do much, but would have a record. Does he have any record of past situations that are similar? Better to err on the side of caution......thinking of you.....
  4. WW,

    I am so sorry that you had to endure this experience as well as your current feelings. I had to fire an employee last year and it was very traumatic for us all. We have a baliff who works for us to keep our courtrooms secure and he escorted the employee out of the building. We immediately changed all of our keypad locks - but still we have kept out a sharp eye. She was a very angry person and we had endured that anger for way too long.

    It sounds like you work in retail and can't really secure your work area. I think you are wise to be concerned. Be sure to share this concern with your supervisor - because you need to be working together on this!
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Did the police run a background check on this guy? Thought - when hiring a new employee pay the $$ it takes to do background checks at the state level.

    Get yourself some pepper spray - why someone would just after being fired pipe up about CHECK your trip - just creepy to me. And it could be harmless. How does he even KNOW you are going to Mexico? WHy is that any of his business?

    Better to be aware than not, but hyping your senses up is natural. Your body can defend itself if it is on guard. That doesn't sound bad to me at all.

    Sorry you have to go through this, but if you keep feeling like there is a problem contact the victims aid at your local police station. They can give you and the store some safety tips for dealing with people like this.

  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I would look up his file and see what the background check said, too, and what sorts of complaints were in the file over the past few wks/mo's.
    by the way, Mexico is a big place. Expecially Mexico City. He'd have to be a genious to find you or your boss. Or, your boss could go to a gated community like Mazatalan and he'd never get in. Lots of options.
    So sorry you had to go through that. Sigh.
    I'm sure you're safe at home, but going to work should be a pleasure and a sense of accomplishment and this certainly cuts into it.
    Has the mgmt had a chat with-all the security personnel just to make sure they keep an eye out?
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sounds like a bloke like that, probably upsets a lot of people and in turn gets rejected in many more places than just this job. I wouldn't be losing sleep over him; if anyone is in the firing line, it's the ASM. But I suspect if this guy wants to 'get even', there are a lot of people ahead of ASM on his list.

    Seriously, he was just trying to be a jerk. A bloke trying to bully women in the workplace. As if you would hear those threats and say to him, "I'm sorry - in that case, here is your job back, so I can go to Mexico after all and feel safe." He's a dreamer, a time-waster and in general not-nice-person. What would he gain from actually carrying out any of those threats? Absolutely nothing. He certainly wouldn't get his job back!

    It does sound to me like your PTSD has been ramped up a notch, but if he succeeds in making you anxious (which is his aim) then he has won. Not good. I doubt very much he would ever do anything.

    The world is full of psychopaths. Most of them are smart enough to not break the law because they don't want their freedom curtailed. You only ever hear about the ones who get caught for some spectacularly nasty crime. They are very much the minority.

    Sounds like your workplace is well off without him.

    I'm glad you told the cops, though. Making threats is a stupid thing to do, because if anything goes wrong he is going to be the first person they talk to.

  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Honestly, I'm not going to tell you that your fear isn't warrented. I'm in no place to judge that. And my rule of thumb is to go with your gut.

    Now, that doesn't mean you have to let this jerk win by terrorizing you.

    Make sure you're taking all the steps to ensure your safety as much as possible at all times. If you work nights, never walk out to your car alone. Like someone else said, keep pepper spray on hand. Be aware of your surroundings where ever you happen to be. Keep home doors locked. Ect.

    These are steps all of us should be doing. Being aware isn't quite the same as being terrified. Once you're prepared as you can be, and aware of the other, then let it go and get on with living.

    Odds are this jerk saw two women in authority kicking him out on his butt. Mad him mad as heck, so he decides to give you one heck of a scare before he leave. He's probably in a bar somewhere laughing about how he scared you, rather than thinking about ways to terrify you.

    If on the slight chance to see him lurking about, call the cops. Don't hesitate.

    Sending ((hugs)). Not a fun position to be in.
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Usually I post rather complex and thoughtful replies. I think the others have covered those responses.

    Now...how's this for an off the wall concept. Find another job.
    You have only been there for 6 weeks so you don't have too much
    invested. You are particularly vulnerable to threatening and stressful events. Why bother to cope with the worry?

    I am NOT a quitter but sometimes it makes more sense to just cut
    yourself off from a person or environment that triggers stress.
  10. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks guys.........for all the help and advice! Pepper spray is exactly what I need to feel a bit better. I feel like I need something in my hand when I am leaving at night, or even during the day. Where do you get pepper spray???

    As far as quitting - if this was a temp job, or a job that was not one that holds a future I would, actually. However, this is a company I have been trying to get into for awhile, one that is listed every year in the top 100 places to work at - so there is no way I am going to give up this opp because some bozo threatened me. I do have to say this is the one huge negative about retail management.........

    I guess it is the PTSD thing that has me bothered the most. What happens to you guys when your PTSD is triggered?

    I feel like it takes over my mind in this completely unconscious way - like a fissure in my soul starts rumbling. I was standing there firing this guy, outwardly calm as a cucumber, but inwardly the trembling began, the chest pains, the increased breathing. Then I got home, and I could not calm down, I felt like my mind was cracking inside - like suddenly I was not connected to controlling my emotions. I became hyper vigilant, and was unable to settle down. Then the nightmares started. Does this happen to you guys with PTSD?

  11. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    WW, being uncomfortable is a survival instinct. Be careful but realize that unless he is following ASM that he can't possibly know where she is eating.
    The fact that he is covering the whole country of Mexico sounds like an idle threat.
    Doesn't mean you let your defenses down but balance with reality. Someone who makes those sorts of big threats usually cools off quickly.

    Check the background, stay vigilant and get pepper spray.

    I often think that we have no way of defending ourselves. I won't keep guns and I feel vulnerable. A pepperspray in your purse, a baseball bat under your bed or behind the door makes you feel less vulnerable.

    Just joking of course, but I have heard to be careful eating food in Mexico. :rofl:
  12. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    I have had similiar PTSD feelings. It can be hard. Get the pepper spray even if you don't use it you will feel better. Good luck with this and many hugs.

  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Yes and no. I use cognitive therapy and it works quite well. And, I talk to friends like you all ... :smile: and I listen to and use the feedback.
    I go for walks. I do things that completely and utterly take me into another realm ... my painting, going to a symphony, diving into a freezing cold pool on a hot day...
    Mostly, I get PTSD at night, in the middle of the night, so it hasn't affected my "real life" activities much. I've only had it affect me at work once, and quite frankly, am not sure it was PTSD because I wasn't the only one this happened to--my boss screamed and yelled at someone for no good reason until they cried (a stunt he pulled about every 6 mo on anyone who was in his way). Of course, at some point it had to be my turn. Crying at work is NOT something I do. At the time I knew he was an *ss. I still know he is. Just like you know this employee is. But still, you fret. Sigh.
    It just takes time.
    Give yourself time.
  14. Scent of Cedar II

    Scent of Cedar II New Member

    Something like that would creep me out, too.

    Definitely, get the pepper spray.

    And where DO you get pepper spray, ladies?

    I used to have a key chain pepper spray thingy but I don't have one now.

    And I should.

    We all should, really.

    So, where do you get them, does anyone know?

    WW, it sounds as though you are able to differentiate between the symptoms of the legitimate fear response and those of PTSD.
    I think long term use of the pepper spray / baseball bat combo :smile: and short-term use of an anti-anxiety medication would be appropriate, here.

    Baseball bats are fine things to have around.

    Do whatever else you need to do to deal with the vulnerability you feel now.

    If it helps, look at this process as taking back control of your emotional set points.

    Like a furnace set too high ~ it is going to take a little while for you to come back into balance.

    Carry that pepper spray.

    I am going to get some too, when I can find it.

    Neither of us will probably have to use it ~ but it is a good thing to have.

  15. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    You know Cedar, maybe that is exactly the problem. I have been through so much "drama" and turmoil in my life with men, that I really don't know when I am genuinely scared, or when it is just a person triggering a reaction in me based on past PTSD stuff. That is probably why I don't trust myself, and my reaction to this. Most I told the story to said it was probably no big deal, and everything would fine - except it did not feel fine when I was in there talking to him - it felt like he really was going to hurt me. So it left me doubting whether or not what I felt was based in reality or based on past.

    Good point.

    And yah, where do you get that pepper spray stuff? And can I use it on difficult child when he is bothering me to no end. HAHA :laugh: Just kidding, of course.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    WW, I have no doubt the experience was terrifying. I know I would have felt very threatened also. But in the cold light of day, I think he is done. He said what he wanted to say, he is a bully who threatens rather than the sort who says nothing and then lies in wait.

    Most of the people who issue threats never carry them out. The very act of saying threatening things, especially in a situation like this where it is acute, rather than chronic, is often enough for them to feel more satisfied, having spread their little brand of poison around. "I've succeeded in making you feel bad, now I'm satisfied and can move on."

    This was an acute situation. He was on the carpet, getting fired. You were not even the focus, you were just in the room. He will never be in that room again, professionally speaking. He is gone.

    If, on the other hand, you were dealing with a neighbour whose response to you politely asking him to turn down the stereo resulted with him threatening you with a gun, THAT is a chronic situation. Your chance of a repeat encounter is much higher. And even there, you could avoid a repeat encounter by putting up with the loud stereo, or simply calling the police to enforce the peace.

    Back to your workplace - this creep got fired, probably with good cause (judging from his response). Chances are he antagonises enough people in his day to day life, that you are only the latest in a long line of people he has threatened THIS WEEK. He probably utters threats as easily (and thoughtlessly) as breathing. He's probably already forgotten, moved on to find another job and is probably already saying things like, "I'm so glad I'm out of there, I'm much better off in this new job," even if he is not. He sounds like someone who re-writes the story constantly, to make himself look good in his own eyes and to make himself seem like the big tough man.

    In reality, blokes like that are wimps. Big talk, no action because "it's beneath them" (and they're really cowards).

    If he seriously intended harm, he wouldn't have made his threats so obvious (or maybe even at all).

    You were scared at the time - I would have been too. But I seriously believe he is gone.

    The police know of the threats. If he has half a brain (which is maybe in question) then he would know the police would have been told. So if ANYTHING happens to you or the ASM, even if it's a total accident, the police will be knocking on his door before anyone else's. A bloke like him, who makes threats so readily - he would know this, because undoubtedly the police have knocked on his door before.

    He's gone, I'm sure of it. But if you are nervous and can't find pepper spray, there are other precautions you can take. We are not allowed to carry weapons in Sydney, I think pepper spray is banned here, so here is what I do:

    1) Walk tall, shoulders back.

    2) Keep all valuables where they can't be easily grabbed - bags etc, wrap straps round your wrist. A bag can also be used to defend yourself with, if you have a good grip.

    3) Listen, be alert, and even if you're scared try to ACT confident. Act as if you have a black belt in karate. Practice this often, and for every walk to your car in the dark, congratulate yourself on giving a good impression of a confident, scary woman.

    4) No defensive weapon? Yes, you have. As you walk to your car, hold your keys with the sharp bits protruding between your fingers. In fact, before you leave safety, get your keys out, close your bag up again, wrap the strap around your wrist, put your keys in your hand with points protruding. Then step out, confidently. If you get attacked - go for his eyes with the keys.

    5) An alternative to keys I recall from a self-defence book I read in my teens - carry one of those long-tailed combs in your bag; the ones with a metal spike as the tail (we used to use those to 'bouffe up' our hair). If you can't find your keys, grab your comb. But do it ahead - hold it in your hand as you walk.

    I'm crippled and walk with crutches. It limits how I could defend myself. And yet - I've never even had anyone try to snatch my bag. It does happen - but to other people. I think it's because I've practiced exuding scariness. Plus, I am prepared to wallop any attacker with my aluminium crutches. Maybe they sense that.

    Back in my teens, I read a lot of self defence books. One in particular, said that if you get grabbed from behind, you should lift up your foot and slam it back hard into your attacker's kneecap. I unfortunately had a good friend grab me in play - once - and nearly crippled him. I realised at the last split second that I wasn't being attacked. He was still limping for a week and my reaction was witnessed by the bloke I thought had attacked me.

    easy child 2/difficult child 2 kept herself safe in her teens by terrifying the local lads. All done by her quiet tone of voice and motionless response.

    Hang in there. You are safe now, I am sure. But it's always wise to make sure everybody else can sense this about you too, in case anyone is thinking of trying something.

  17. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Where to buy pepper spray

    Maybe that will help.

    I used to have a pepper spray keychain that I got from my boss' wife whose brother-in-law was a PO. :laugh: When I worked downtown and had to walk a couple of blocks to my car, that thing was always in my hand.


    Be safe.
  18. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Willow, Marg gives some really good tips about walking with confidence and basic self defence.

    Here in Canada, we're not allowed to carry pepper spray either, so I use similar techniques. Another one that works well...especially if you wear shoes with any sort of heel. If someone grabs you from behind...stomp as hard as you can on their foot. Aim for the instep with the heel of your shoe. If they wrap an arm around you and you can get your teeth on them, bite down as hard as you can...as if you're trying to chew through bone.

    Note that in these cases, your aim is to break free and run, not to fight an assailant.

    As Marg suggests, walking tall and developing an air of menace works really well.

    husband and others have told me that when they watch me from a distance as I walk through a crowd, a bubble forms around me as people get out of my way. I feel very uncomfortable in crowds, and have learned to channel that into an air of menace. Despite my stature (lack of), people leave me be.

    I think that, as others have already said, you have every right to feel frightened and anxious about this incident, but I also agree that this man sounds like a coward and a bully...all bark, no bite.

    Sending strength and calm your way,
  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Anyone ever tried a Taser Party? They are real, my mom is thinking about having one. She wants to see if she can use it with her fused wrists.

    I thought Mom was joking at first. She is a little gray/white haired lady, fit and full of plans. She wants to take her big ole van (bigger than a minivan, smaller than a cargo van) and drive places. She thinks spending a ton of $$ on a motel to sleep in for 6-8 hours is ripoff. So she is fitting out the van.

    I think my dad will freak, but I also think it would be a fun party. I don't feel a need for one at this time, but who knows?

    Stungunless Susiestar
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Again, tasers are not available to us in Australia. There is even ongoing debate about letting our cops have them. And the problem with carrying a weapon - it's too easy for an assailant to use it against you. So I carry my defensive weapons inside my head, nobody can take them away from me there.