I Can't Tell the Difference Between Friendly and Creepy

Or how I just spent $70 bucks at GNC on stuff I didn't want or need.
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Or how I just spent $70 bucks at GNC on stuff I didn't want or need.

Because I'm sort of a wuss, I just spent $70 bucks at GNC on stuff I didn't want or need. How did this happen?


My plan was pretty simple; find some sort of liquid vitamin to supplement all the ice I eat. Lately, I haven’t been doing too well in the health department. I’ve gained weight and haven’t been eating well.

I take medication every day, but when it comes to vitamins I skip one day and then that’s it until the next time I decide I need vitamins, which can be days, weeks, months later.

I figured liquid vitamins were probably easier to take and work faster. I needed something quick. 

The GNC is 5 minutes from my house. I’ve been here countless times. The franchise owner is working the store today. He reminds me of my father. He's friendly and laughs easily and loudly. Harmless, right?

I walk in as he's helping another customer and I sort of just wander around the store trying to find what I’m looking for without actually being sure what I'm looking for. 

Money's been tight lately so all the $35.99s and $52.45s are leaping out at me in the most obnoxious ways, as I continue to wander somewhat aimlessly down the aisles. 

While I'm staring at a bottle of something green, the franchise owner comes over, smiling. I smile back because that's just how my face works. I don't care if you're Osama Bin Laden’s ghost, if you smile at me, I'm going to smile back at  you. You're welcome. 

He asks if he can help and never stops smiling. I tell him what I'm looking for. And he says, "Oh, yes. You are looking very nice this day. You need vitamins to keep your lovely structure."

Wait. What?

I'm a cute girl now. It's just true. But because I’m only 15 years into my cute girldom, my inner geek still holds court. I never assume that people are hitting on me or trying to pick me up. Generally, people don't. 

So, something in my brain skips but I can't keep the smile off my face. I shift uncomfortably, but I'm still fucking smiling. I don't say anything and I follow as he shuffles off toward the vitamins. 

On the way, he asks me if I'm interested in some powder form of something. I tell him that I'm just here for liquid vitamins. He's smiling, I'm smiling and I don't know why.

He finds some liquid vitamins and half heartedly reads me the ingredients, after every pause, he insists that I try the powder, the kind I've expressly stated that I don't want. 

"Miss, it comes in chocolate and vanilla. You can mix it when you're on you're way to school. Are you in school?" And there's that Cheshire cat grin again.

"No, sir. I'm not in school. I'm out of school."

"Oh, so you work?" 

He's still smiling. I'm still smiling, but now I’m certain I'm uncomfortable. I think it's because he's older and reminds me of my dad. Also, I’ve been in this store a few times and he’s never been like this. I don’t think. I've convinced myself that I'm being delusional and paranoid. 

I mean what are the chances that this old dude is trying to pick me up? Get over yourself, Bass. While I'm thinking about this, I don't even notice that I've followed him away from the liquid vitamins (the ones I want) and we're back at the powdered vitamins (the ones I don't want). 

The whole time he's talking and I'm just staring stupidly while he insists and insists and insists on a bunch of crap I do not want to spend my money on. I keep telling him no, no. I want the liquid because I know I'll actually take them.

"Oh, of course. You want to make sure that you can maintain that beautiful body of yours." 

Wait. What??? Now, I know something is up, but I freeze. I don't know what to say and he just keeps going. 

"I'm in this store every morning. You should come visit me. We can have a nice talk. I can give you advice."

I stammer something about having a boyfriend. I don’t have a boyfriend.  My brain is screaming at me to turn around and walk or run out of the store, but I can't move. And I can't fucking stop smiling! I start to sweat as he continues and I interrupt him with a, "I'll take the powder!" 

"Oh very good! You will not be disappointed." 

I've been stressed out lately. My heart is racing as I follow him to the counter and my brain is cussing me out: "Get the fuck out of here. You don't want this shit and he's creeping you out. Get. The. Fuck. Out." 

But I don't want to be rude. 

You see, he's older and he reminds me of my dad but my dad is not super creepy. He would never make anyone feel this uncomfortable.

I'm still at the counter, debating whether or not I should go. I don't notice that he's still talking. This time he's holding a bottle of some sort of Omega vitamins. He's saying something about buy one, get one free. 

"No, sir. I'm fine. I'll just take this, please." 

He then launches into another speech about my "loveliness." I start to squirm. "I'll take it!" 

I can't seem to talk my feet into walking away. My total comes up to $70 dollars. My heart drops but I just want to grab the bag and get out of there. I'm not sure why I'm so concerned about this creepy stranger’s feelings. 

He's still talking about how he gave me a $30 discount and I should come back and see him. I don't want his discount or any of what I just bought, but I take it anyway and say, “Thank you.”

Walking to my car, I'm thinking of all the things I should have said and did wrong. Why was I smiling the entire time? Why didn't I tell him he was making me uncomfortable? Why didn't I just turn and leave as soon as I got the vibe that something was wrong? That I was being railroaded?

I hear stories of women constantly being harassed and I've never been one of those women. Strange men generally leave me alone. So when faced with a man “flirting,” I'm confused. When faced with a man harassing me, I'm struck stupid. When faced with the fine line between the two I'm even worse off. 

I’ve often thought of myself as the kind of woman who would be bold and loud when backed into a corner of any kind. I thought it was the shy, timid women who were afraid of losing their jobs or being labeled. “Why didn’t they say anything when it happened??”

And here I am, and I’m not even sure if I was even harassed. Maybe he’s just really into the hard sell?  How many women get that icky feeling but aren’t sure what to make of it?  

So what do you, my lovely XOJaners, think of this? Was it harassment or just friendliness gone extra creepy? I honestly don’t know what to make of it. 

Either way, now I have to find another GNC so I can return all this crap.