I’ve worked a few odd jobs in my life. My first job was a summer job at 16 during summer break at a dairy farm. I absolutely hated it there and it made it harder for me to find the motivation to even try finding work again when the time came.
I don’t really remember how I was first referred to the job, but the following summer, I ended up working as an office assistant for a self-employed photographer. My parents knew her because she used to be a member of their church, and my sister attended her 4H program when she had it. By that time, her health had begun to take a hit as she claimed it was a mixture of things from chronic lyme to fibromyalgia. I had also been warned by my parents that she was a little off. She was very religious and claimed to have had real encounters with demons, even participated in a few exorcisms. I’m an atheist and a skeptic, so I never took her stories seriously. Aside from the weird things she would tell me, she was mostly harmless and working for her was not hard.
The job basically required me to do a lot of data entry, as well as help prep her photos with some minor touching up and the addition of her company watermark before uploading them to a site where her customers could browse them and then pick which ones that wanted to order. She primarily photographed horse events (dressage, stadium and cross country jumping, etc.), and for the first several months my job stayed in her living room, which was basically my office space at the time. Eventually I was talked into tagging along at shows where she trained me as a photographer, and soon I was shooting at the events along with her. It was boring work, I won’t lie. I’m not a horse person. But things didn’t get weird until a year later when I learned the hard way it was not her that I needed to worry about.
She had two sons. One who was out of state, the other who was in the navy. The latter of the two, a guy called Nate, I had only heard small things about. He was somewhere on the autism spectrum but she was never clear on what exactly his diagnosis was. She believed firmly he was vaccine injured and that all his oddities could be traced back to vaccines. When he finally returned home and I met him for the first time while working in her living room, he seemed like a nice guy. A little odd, but not concerning.
He was obsessed with movies, and being a bit of a movie buff myself, whenever he would venture to the living room to strike up a conversation, it would almost always be about whatever movies we were into or were excited to see. I should point out here that I was 18 by this point and he was in his mid thirties. At some point, he got it in his head that I was interested in him, though he never said anything directly to me. I had to find out about it from my parents.
My mom worked as the secretary at her church and Nate knew it. I can only guess my boss had told him. One afternoon, Nate showed up at my mom’s desk and started gushing about me. He talked about how much fun I was, how he loved talking to me, how he was planning to take me to the movies and take me to his church and all these other plans he had for me. My mom was beyond uncomfortable, as was the pastor who happened to overhear it, and when I got home that night, she told me what had happened and suggested I make sure not to lead him on. I was completely baffled because I hadn’t done anything. We’d never even discussed the possibility of doing anything together.
I got even more uncomfortable around him when I overheard a conversation between himself and my boss in the next room. He was talking about his experiences in the navy while she was talking about the “dangers” of Islam. At one point he said in a completely serious tone, “If I had it my way, I’d just shoot and kill any Muslim I met. Problem solved.” My boss simply laughed the comment off like it was nothing, but something in his tone creeped me out.
I made an effort to acknowledge him less when he was around and keep the conversations short while stressing I had work to do. Eventually he got his own place and moved out of his parents house, so I figured the problem had solved itself. A couple years later, I had moved out, my boss’ company had closed, and I was working someplace new. I was friends with both my boss and Nate on FB, and around that time I was finally coming out as an atheist, something I couldn’t do when I was still living at home.
One night, my old boss messaged me, asking about a ring I had on my finger. It was a black ring with a white solid star in the middle of a black circle. Already knowing where she was going with this, I told her it was just a ring. She started accusing me of wearing a pentagram (because she didn’t know what a pentacle was), and that I was promoting Satan. I tried several times to explain to her that not only was it not that symbol but that also paganism has nothing to do with Satan anyways, but she refused to listen so I just ignored her. It was typical behavior of her and not worth the argument.
The next morning, I had a message from Nate, telling me I needed to come to his church with him. I told him no and the messages I received back gradually grew angrier and angrier. He went from asking to demanding I go with him. He told me I was lost and that I would not find the answers I needed by living the life I was. Eventually he outright said he thought the fact that I was wearing a pentagram was disgusting and that I was opening myself up for possession. Knowing there would be even less of a point in arguing with him than there was with his mother, I went ahead and blocked both him and her, deciding I was done with the both of them.
Then he started showing up at my workplace. He would always search through the store until he found me, and then once he did he would corner me and not stop talking to me no matter how many times I tried to dodge him or tell him I needed to get back to work. Eventually the managers caught on and started intercepting him whenever he showed up. I wasn’t making enough to pay the rent with that job so I had to take up a second one. Within a week of working my second job, which was in a different town, he showed up there too. This time I told the managers outright who he was, and after that, every time he showed up, I was allowed to hide in the back room behind a locked door while they sped his order along and got him out.
One of those many encounters, while I was hiding in the back, one of the managers was back there with me, inputing employee time punches into the computer when the both of us heard Nate shout in our directing, “I know you remember me!” That was the last straw for them and they told him his business was no longer welcome there.
He stopped showing up at my other job as well for a while, which was a relief. Fastforward to a few years later, I was getting used to not having to look over my shoulder every shift or check the parking lot for his truck. Then one day, he reappeared. He was browsing a section I was walking past when he spotted me and got this deer in the headlights look. I made a beeline to the break room because just seeing him made me scared.
After that, he started showing up regularly. I would always find ways to dodge and avoid him, but he would still eventually spot me and know I was still there. I was debating whether or not to tell the mangers because at this point it had been a while since he had done anything and saying something just because I was nervous didn’t feel right. Call me a coward or an idiot but that was my thought process. What happened next made me regret not speaking up.
It was bound to happen eventually, but one night he managed to catch me while I was at the customer service desk. He approached me and said hi, and I immediately started to look for someone to signal over so I could make a break for it. But before I could say a word, he said something that made me feel sick.
“How’s your little girl doing? She’s 3 now, right?”
I looked at him, horrified. I had him completely blocked from all of my social media, I had his number blocked, I was living at a new address, and I had not seen or spoken to his mother since she confronted me about my ring. I had not told either of them I was a parent now, or that I was married, and I was not friends with anyone who knew them. But he knew.
“How’s your husband doing too?” he asked when I didn’t answer.
“He’s good. He’s a good man,” I said, trying to reinforce the idea that I was not available to him and that I had no desire to have anything to do with him.
“Really? Where does he work?”
At this point I felt like I was going to pass out. Thankfully another employee approached just to gather some reshelves, and I got the hell out of there. As I was leaving, he called out behind me, “I’ll see you again. We’ll talk. We’ll go out and do something together. We will.” I reported him to the managers, telling them everything about the encounter, including all the information he had on me and my family that he should not have had. They were able to pull up his face on CCTV, and while I have not heard anything, I’m guessing one of them finally managed to approach him because I haven’t seen him since.
This has been going on for 10 years and I want it to finally be over. If he shows up again, I’m going to the police, but I’m seriously hoping it never comes to that. I just want him to stop.