I think I accidentally lead on my non-English-speaking coworker. iAyudame, por favor!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total)
I just started working as a hostess at a restaurant where the kitchen staff are all Hispanic males who don't speak much English. Having studied Spanish in high school, I am able to communicate with them in basic phrases but I don't always understand what they say. Two of the guys--I'll call them Guy X and Guy Y--are pretty flirty with all the female front of house staff; Guy X is always asking about my non-existent boyfriend/saying he wants to be my boyfriend. A third guy who works in the kitchen, Guy Z, is probably in his late 30s or early 40s; unlike the other two he's pretty quiet and reserved, but there have been times when I've seen him getting down to some song that's playing on the radio in the kitchen, and I've found him rather intriguing, because I feel that I see some of myself--shy and withdrawn but really loving to let go and cut loose sometimes--in him. This has led me to saying things that I had hoped would be taken as a joke whenever the two other guys give me shit about getting a boyfriend/wanting to be my boyfriend, like "Z is my favorite" and "I'm in love with Z." At one point I said "Le amo" to Z as a sign of my appreciation when he was helping me out with something during a busy dinner shift. I always figured that because there's an obvious language and age difference between us, the three of them would know I was just joking, but now I am not so sure.
What's causing my uncertainty is an episode that occurred last week: during my fourth week of work, I found out that one of the servers, who doesn't speak any Spanish, sometimes hangs out with Guy Z. I thought the fact that they could spend time together in spite of the language barrier incredibly cool, and so when I found out that they were going to a dance club one night with Guy Y I decided I would join them too. She paired up with Y, so I danced with Z. At first, he and I danced separately, and I was happy we were staying out of each other's personal bubbles because I have personal space issues. But as the night progressed and people started packing closer together he put his hands on my waist and I put my hands on his back, because I thought backing away would have been awkward and perhaps insulting, although in retrospect I realize that I really should have done this since I didn't feel comfortable with our physical contact. At first I thought that we were dancing together in a friendly way. But I have never been in a relationship, so I am now wondering if touching each other while dancing is something that people who aren't romantically interested in each other do.
As I think back on that night, a few other things stand out in my mind as being somewhat questionable. Z walked me home, and as we walked he asked if I had a boyfriend (I guess he missed my informing X that I didn't have one) And when I asked him what he liked to do when he didn't work, he said he enjoyed eating at one of the local Mexican restaurants and asked if I liked eating there, too, saying maybe we could eat there one day. (Though, to be fair, he did say non-romantic things like "I look forward to being friends with you" and talked about us becoming better friends) When we said goodbye, he gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek, which was surprising but I just figured it was a cultural custom (he's Honduran, in case that's relevant at all). At first I thought that this was all just a friendly exchange laying the basis for us to become cultural/language exchange buddies but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if there were some more suggestive undertones to it.
The next day, I thought he would be more friendly or talkative, but he didn't act any different, going about his business as usual. The fact that he didn't act really buddy-buddy with me makes me hope that he just sees me as a friend. And this guy really does seem like a decent person, from the fact that he walked me home and the fact that in the past he has apparently warned some of the female employees to not get drinks with Guy X (X made some aggressive, unwanted advances with a female coworker when they were drinking together once, which doesn't surprise me given his overt flirtatiousness when sober). Z also seems a lot less lecherous and more respectful than the other two guys, but there are certain things that are making me question how he sees me/what his intentions truly are:
1.) He told me he was 25, when he clearly looks older. I gullibly believed him, thinking that a lot of people look older than they are, but one of the servers said he was lying. When I asked him again how old he was, he said he was 26, so I figured if he didn't want to reveal the truth about his age I wouldn't push it any further. When he asked me why I was curious, I said "Just wondering" because I figured that was a more tactful answer than "Because you look a lot older than 26," but I wonder if he took my inquiry as a sign of interest in him.
2.) A few nights after we hung out, we were talking and although I'm not 100% certain, I think he said something about wanting to find a girlfriend. After that, two of my coworkers told me separately that he has kids and a girlfriend (I highly doubt his kids live with him here; otherwise, why would he go out dancing late at night after work?). One of them mentioned it off-handedly without any knowledge of the kitchen staff's boyfriend banter with me; the other, who is also a native Spanish speaker with limited English, was pretty emphatic about the fact that he has a girlfriend and kids, so I'm now starting to see that what I considered friendly banter about my getting a boyfriend might have been taken more seriously than I initially imagined. But it could be that this coworker is blowing things out of proportion and thinking that I'm interested in actually dating one of these guys when I'm really not.
3.) He has sent me two text messages after work saying "Feliz noche." The second time included "ilove" (I guess he forgot to text "you"). I really didn't think about it that much, because I thought maybe it was an instance where someone with limited knowledge of a different language is just using a common phrase that they don't really intend as a vessel for substantive meaning, sort of like when I said "Le amo" to him. But maybe I'm wrong?
I am horribly embarrassed about this situation. If this guy is interested in me, I feel as if I've led him to cheat emotionally on whoever he is dating. I figure that if he ever invites me to go dancing or asks if I want to eat dinner, I will definitely not go. But am I overthinking this? Could it be possible that maybe he's just really friendly and wanting to make friends with a native English-speaker? And if he is interested, what would be a good way to handle our interactions so that I still come across as friendly but not flirty?