I’ve never been big on hugging or kissing anyone but my son or the man in my life.
My girlfriends all tease me about my “problem” – especially after I revealed that one time the minister told everyone to hug their neighbor at church and I purposely put my hands in both pockets, smiled at my neighbors and said, “Sorry – I don’t do hugs.” When some demented stranger still tried to “reach out” — and laid his or her hand on my shoulder from behind — I shook it off!
Aside from church (and first dates), work is the place where weird incidents involving hugging and kissing seem to happen most often.
Years ago, the janitor used to talk to me for five minutes or so every day when he cleaned my work space. X was nice enough and seemed like a fairly decent guy. He often brought tomatoes from his garden and told me how he was going to get a big lawsuit settlement and quit his job.
About two weeks before the last day of work he was so eagerly anticipating, he came into my cubicle, backed me against the wall and gave me a big “good-bye” kiss. A long one. Right on the lips.
I was horrified – for many different reasons, and for the next two weeks, when I heard him coming my way every afternoon, I had to run to somebody else’s cubicle for 20 minutes until he’d passed through the area.
A few years later, a man I knew socially from work (and formerly liked) was brought in to be supervisor in our department. All I can say is it was a terrible experience for all of the employees because he wasn’t right for the job, but we tried our best to be nice to him.
One day — out of the blue — he walked up to me in the middle of a large room full of people and gave me a smile and a huge super-hug. I could feel his soft, squishy body pressed up against mine and it was just disgusting.
I told my coworker about it and she commiserated, but also laughed!
A few days later, the supervisor walked up and hugged me again! (I swear – it was like a puppy who instinctively knows you don’t like dogs and keeps sniffing and pestering you.)
This time, I was able to put my hand up at chest level to attempt to minimize the body-to-body experience as my amused coworker called over, “Hey you guys! Get a room!” (I love her, but I wanted to slap her.)
Luckily, not long after that incident the supervisor was reassigned — and I haven’t been hugged or kissed in the workplace since. Hooray!
You tell these like funny stories but actually the kiss on the lips was totally inappropriate and a slap round the face would not have been an over the top reaction.
I’ve just gone back to work after a couple of months off recovering from an op. Some people I hug, some I don’t. I don’t know why, some people I am just closer to I guess. The problem comes when you are in a room with several others and not all are in the hug zone. What do you do? Hug them all or just some, or none?
You do have to make it clear where you are at though don’t you! When people come towards you with their arms out for that hug and you are thinking handshake and firmly sticking your right hand out, you have to hope they get the hint as the gap closes!
The whole thing is a minefield. What I do know though, is that you shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable and maybe the huggers just need to be told (the kissers definitely need to be told)
Julie recently posted…Guest Post at It Happens in a Blink
My goal here was to show in version one that if you take a couple of these weird situations, you could tell it like a funny story and let it go at that. But when you see the same type of thing recurring over again and again your whole career, you realize they’re not funny stories – they’re sexual harassment.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
I am also very much NOT a hugger–but my husband is, and his culture is one with a lot of hugs and kisses on the cheeks. I teach myself to as genuinely and gracefully as possible greet his older family members with hugs and kisses because it seems like the best and easiest way for me to be accepted as a part of the family.
I’m a cosmetologist, and one time at work I shaved off a client’s beard and mustache that he hadn’t shaved in 30 years. When he saw himself he jumped up and hugged me and kissed me on the cheek–very weird, but I brushed it off as temporary insanity on his part. I imagine that it is fairly overwhelming to see your entire face for the first time in 30 years, and I could definitely tell that he was dealing with a lot of emotions.
But yeah, it’s not too easy being a non-hugger in a hugging world.
Rachel G recently posted…To Give More Than We Can Spare
Thanks for writing. It’s so nice to meet another person who’s not a super-hugger!