Monday, October 09, 2006

Take My Stalker--Please!

Recently, I have, quite unwittingly, made a friend. While shopping at the mall, one of the salesmen decided that I was the coolest thing ever and that we should be bosom buddies from then on out. He eagerly asked me the full panoply of Indonesian getting-to-know-you questions: my full name, my religion, where I was going, and where I live. Without thinking too much, I responded to most of them truthfully.

Big mistake. One thing that can be said about the guy, he's resourceful. Oh, actually two things: resourceful and persistent. Since I told him the name of my neighborhood--not my street, not my house--he figured out where the house was and came over to visit, uninvited, several times. The first few times, I (luckily) wasn't home. The third time, he was waiting outside the door as I came home. He asked to be invited in; I made up some excuse about how I was going to bed. He asked when he could come over next; I made up some excuse about how busy I am. (Not true. Clearly not true.) He asked for my cell phone number; I made up some excuse about how it's only for emergencies. He saw through that one, and demanded again. I realized that if I didn't give him my cell phone number, he would continue to dog the house, embarrassing me in front of the maids. I gave him a fake number; he called it right away to check if it was real.

So now he knows my address and my real phone number. On the up side, he doesn't show up at the house anymore. On the down side, he makes good use of the number. I hate to think how much money he's wasted texting or calling me. I could probably count it, actually: in the course of a week since I gave my number, he has sent me roughly 7 text messages a day. (That's an average. Today the count so far is 21, and four of those were received in the time it took me to write this entry.) In the course of one night, between 10 PM and 6 AM, he called or texted me 16 times. (When does he think I sleep?)

Normally, I'm open to new friends, even ones I meet randomly in the mall. I am here, after all, partially to get to know Indonesian culture and language, which means getting to know Indonesians. This guy would ordinarily be prime language-practice time: I know he's willing to use Indonesian with me, even though he knows some English, and he's even willing to speak slowly. However, something about him just creeps me out. I don't get a good feeling from him, and I mistrust his intentions, no matter how many times his text messages say he just wants to "dialog" about "science."

I'm not sure what to do. I've told him several times that I don't want to be friends, and that I don't think this is appropriate. Semarang is a little more liberal than some places, but it's still not quite right, in this Muslim country, for a single man and woman to meet and go out alone. I think he knows that, and I think he thinks I don't. I'm trying to just ignore him, but the text messages are getting increasingly more desparate, as he tries everything he can think of, from "I miss your smile" to "your perspective is so broad and interesting" to, his latest attempt, "Jesus says love everyone; if Jesus was so open and loving, surely you as a Mormon should be open and loving."

Ouch. The guilt tactic. Maybe I should come back with, "Mohammed said when a man and woman are alone together, the third person in the room with them is Satan; if Mohammed was so strict and reticent about male/female interactions, surely you as a Muslim should be equally strict." I doubt it would work, but I have no idea what else will make this man give up. Blocking his number is an option, of course, but I'm afraid he'll start hanging around the house again. Restraining orders are not an option and neither, apparently, is simply telling him to stop texting me. Aside from going back in time and telling him off the very first time he ever tried to talk to me, I think I'm stuck. Ideas, anyone?


B.G. Christensen said...

Do you have any big scary male friends to scare him off?

Seriously, make sure a lot of people know this guy is stalking you, and make sure he knows a lot of people know.

Caitlin said...

hahaha Hannah I can only laugh because I feel your pain...I regularly get texts between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am saying "what you doing?" "can i visit you?" "why you in bali? you have white skin you want burn it!!?? what wrong with you!" that last one was probably my favorite.

Katya said...

I'm with Master Fob on this one - so long as this guy thinks you have to deal with him by yourself, he's not going to go away. It doesn't even need to be big scary male guys who know (although that will help). You're got a better feel for the social customs in Indonesia than I do, but if this guy's behavior is inappropriate by local standards as well, then you should find some sympathy.

Every time he texts you, every time he tries to talk to you, you need to tell someone. Not because you're helpless and feminine (I know you'll never be able to pull that off) but because you are a good Christian woman and you are shocked and outraged that someone would behave in such an inappropriate manner (still a stretch, but I think you can manage it).

He can't get into your house without a number of servants knowing, right? If they all knew how creepy he was being and how he won't leave you alone even though you've asked him to, wouldn't that decrease the likelihood that he'd be able to contact you?

You are a smart and capable woman but please don't fall into the trap of thinking that you can or have to deal with this on your own. It's not a sign of weakness to get help; it's a sign of wisdom.

Tolkien Boy said...

I am seriously on the next flight with my baseball bat.

Okay, not my baseball bat, as they won't allow them on flights. But perhaps I can buy a cricket bat there.

I am worried.

JB said...

Gavin DeBecker says to ignore stalkers no matter what. I'd recommend not blocking his text messages, but also never reading them. Just delete them as soon as you read them. Or scan them for threatening messages first (but never respond to them!). If this guy is as creepy as he sounds like he is (and if he doesn't even respect you enough to leave you alone when you tell him to), then you don't need to have anything to do with him.

If he comes by the house and insists that you come out and talk to him, then tell him straight out, he's making you uncomfortable, you don't appreciate how forward he is being, and you don't want to see him again. Hold your ground. Pretend he isn't talking to you as you walk away.

Be BITCHY about it if you have to be, because it's better to be a bitch to a stranger and be safe because of it than it is to be nice to someone who essentially means nothing to you and get hurt.

What Gavin DeBecker says about getting lots of phone calls is that if a stalker calls you 30 times and you answer or call back to tell him to leave you alone, he hasn't learned that he should leave you alone, he's just learned that it takes 30 calls before he can hear from you—and they're often willing to be that obnoxious.

Also, when you're telling him you want nothing more to do with him (and don't waver on this, or he'll see that as a sign that you really do want to hang out with him), you might explain that you think it's improper for a man and woman to spend that much alone time. Don't give reasons that he can refute, just say that and leave it at that. He doesn't need to know your reasons.

Given that I don't know anything about Indonesian culture, I can't help but think that ignoring someone (though it may be rude) is a good way to let them know you just don't care and aren't interested. Sometimes you need to be rude (even really rude) to be safe and that's okay! Even if you're wrong and he's just a really persistant and nice guy you have no way of knowing that and you don't need to—just cut things off.

Maybe even let the maids know that you think his behavior is improper and that it makes you uncomfortable. Then when he comes by to insist that you see him he looks like a jerk, not you.

JB said...

(P.S. Not that my opinion matters a whole lot, but I totally agree with what Katya and Master Fob said.)

Steven said...

A good kick in the balls would leave an indelible impression of your opinion towards him. I doubt he'd want to see you again after that...

But seriously, ignoring him seems like the best bet. My only comment would be that you shouldn't be embarrased because of the actions of another person. Tell the maids he's a wacko, get them on your side, and you can all be creeped out together.

Th. said...


You're an American.

Shoot him.

Melyngoch said...

I'll take your mom's stalker. Then I'll stalk your mom's taker. And, for the grand finale, I'll MOM YOUR STALKER!

That'll show him.

Katya said...

With due respect to Gaven DeBecker et al., ignoring a stalker doesn't always work. The guy I had trouble with last year wouldn't leave me alone until I called the police.

Anonymous said...

Are you, or have you ever been, (or could you be,) in regular contact with the US embassy or embassy-like substances? I agree with Katya that this may be one of those things that can't be solved without involving other people, especially the people you live with.

(TB with a cricket bat is good too.)

Anonymous said...

Since the good advice has been given, I'll just say--scary. I hope everything's okay.

Anonymous said...

Your Mom is so glad you have such good friends who give such good advice. Your Mom is also going to make sure Your Dad does not read this one. Use the house guards to keep your stalker at bay. If that fails, call on your host or your school principle for help. I would pay to fly Tolkien boy over to do the job for you but he'll have to pay for his own badminton racket (that being the sport of choice in Indonesia.)

Nectar said...

Do you have home teachers you can call on?