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Inappropriate client actions

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assjack posted 11/20/2018 10:13 AM

I am a contractor and am in peoples houses all the time. I have been working on my boundaries for interactions with my clients. Btw a lot more women are taking charge of dealing with contractors. So i am at a job this morning finishing up with the vacuum. My client disappears but 8 dont think anything of it as it is her house. Get done vacuuming and go to put the thing away. As i walk past her bedroom, door open, i hear the shower running. I put the vacuum away shut her door and leave without saying anything. I felt super uncomfortable. Called my bs and talked to her about it. She mentioned posting here so i am.

My question is i feel that i need to say that she crossed my boundary by getting into the shower while i was there, but is there a way to do this that doesn't come across like blaming the whole thing on her. Obviously she doesn't have that boundary and i guess she doesn't know mine. I still have to wonder what the hell she was thinking getting into the shower while i was there and leaving the door to her room wide open.

I was thinking of saying something like; i am in peoples houses all the time so i have put very specific boundaries on myself such as i won't go into your bedroom or other rooms or your drawers without you there and specific permission from you. Additionally i will not come into your house when you are not dressed or wearing a bathrobe, nor taking a shower. I was super uncomfortable finding out that you were taking a shower while i was there. I would have preferred that you let me know so that i could leave until you were finished and dressed.

Another question is should i just come up with a list of boundaries and have them read it over and initial when i get there the first time?

Zugzwang posted 11/20/2018 10:25 AM

Why do you have to say anything? Saying something means you noticed. Which if you say something might mean a lot to her that you noticed. I would think she would step it up a notch to fish. Why do you wonder what she was thinking? I would just ignore her. Treat her professionally and if she steps up the "fishing". Tell her you are happily married, not interested, and she should conduct herself accordingly around you. Coming up with a list of boundaries to personal conduct with clients lets them know you had issues with boundaries before. That is like a person walking around saying they aren't happy in their marriage to me.

brokenyrs posted 11/20/2018 10:39 AM

Another question is should i just come up with a list of boundaries and have them read it over and initial when i get there the first time?

No I wouldn't do this. If I had a contractor hand me something like that I would be offended. I know why and where you are coming from but not everyone is going to act like your client acted.

I would just ignore her. Treat her professionally and if she steps up the "fishing". Tell her you are happily married, not interested, and she should conduct herself accordingly around you.

^^^^ I agree.

I think calling your bs and telling her was the smartest thing you could have done.

hikingout posted 11/20/2018 11:21 AM

We remodeled early last year and workers were here daily for three months. If they handed me something like that I would probably have had my husband ask them not to come back because it would have worried me that they were too much in my space and maybe Pervy and thought they couldn’t control themselves or something.If I did have to shower or change though I locked the door. I don’t know, you are between a rock and a hard space here because of trying to adopt better boundaries and needing to keep a good reputation and repeat business. Do you have workers that are with you?

bjjmc posted 11/20/2018 11:23 AM

[This message edited by bjjmc at 12:24 PM, May 2nd (Thursday)]

thatbpguy posted 11/20/2018 11:46 AM

There's a recipe for disaster.

Why would a guy, alone, go into a house with just a woman present? She can allege anything she wants to against you. Were it me, I would have a VAR on me at all times to protect me.

HellFire posted 11/20/2018 11:52 AM

I'm a SAHM. I've had many repair men,cable guys,contractors,etc in my house over the years. Sometimes I'm alone,sometimes a kid,or three,are home with me. My husband is rarely home,as he works during the day. I've never considered that they might feel uncomfortable, because I could make a false accusation, although I can see how that would happen with some women. I have thought that I am in a vulnerable position,though.

I think you handled it just right.

I would never consider doing what this client did. Ever. She was definitely hoping you would join her. Or,at least,she was wanting you to think about it. So, I would expect her to ramp it up,to see if it worked.

godheals posted 11/20/2018 13:48 PM

It sounds to me you did the right thing by just leaving.

Why is wrong to say something to her? No not at the time she was in the shower but telling her afterwards your were uncomfortable with it I don’t find that inappropriate. WS need to pay attention to those things more and set boundaries. Sometimes that means saying something. Maybe in her mind she didn’t think anything by it but others do or are more aware of this stuff. It’s called sticking up for your boundaries.

Yeah you can set boundaries by walking away but standing up to them are important. Sounds like I am very indifferent about this but the other person could be thinking way different then the way you think.

stubbornft posted 11/20/2018 14:07 PM

I agree with hikingout. If someone gave me a letter like that I would not feel comfortable having them in my home. It is odd that she took a shower with her bedroom door open but some people are really clueless. I think a VAR at all times is an excellent idea.

pinkpggy posted 11/20/2018 18:13 PM

My thought is it's your infidelity and your boundaries. You don't need to place that on people who have absolutely no idea what your situation is or live in a situation where they have to live by your boundaries. Esp if these are paying clients. You are responsible for you. You cannot expect others to adhere to your rules because you were unable to stay faithful.

I am always home alone. If a worker comes into my home I excuse myself upstairs and let them know to call for me when they are done or I check on them periodically.

I had an instace this summer where we were waiting for my child's friend to come over. I was in the bathroom when I heard the door bell ring. I hurried up and came out and was surprised to see the boy and his father in my living room. He wanted to chat about they days activities and get my cell number. Prior to my affair I would have thought nothing of this. But I was completely flustered and felt uncomfortable. This man(who is happily married)had no reason to know that or feel like he had done something wrong by bringing his child into my house to get settled. It's not his problem that I cheated and now live with the consequences.

Bestthing posted 11/20/2018 18:19 PM

You did the right thing by telling your wife.

When my house is getting remodeled/painted, etc., I could see myself doing something silmilar without giving it a second thought. I may have to get to work and had to change. One of my lovely cats may have cracked open my bedroom door. My mind wouldn’t be on getting some action; it would probably be on how late I am for work and how I am going to get that birthday cake for a colleague, and whether my codes are going to run today. My house is pretty big, so I am not going to shower close to where they are working, but overall I am expecting us to be invisible to each other.

If a contractor stipulates that I can’t shower or change while he is in the house, I would get rid of him for being too high maintenance. I am being honest, sorry.

I am not saying your client is not fishing. If she gave you indications that she was interested prior to the shower, then you definitely have to take precautions next time by bringing a helper, going over when the kids or husband are home. I really feel for you because this is your profession and art. Now someone with selfish wants is attacking your livelihood and marriage.

assjack posted 11/20/2018 20:11 PM

Ok. So i understand where you all are coming from with the list of boundaries. My pov is that ive been doing this for 3 years or so and have been in a number of uncomfortable situations, so i guess i was looking for the easy way out. I.e., Not having to think about my boundaries, just have them out there at the front.

Ignoring her is not an option as she violated my boundary. I feel like i have a say this is my boundary.

Yes i am thinking about it and how to let her know that i was/am uncomfortable so that it doesn't escalate. If something else happens i will say: sorry, your whatever action makes me feel uncomfortable, and i can not work for you any longer.

So my bs and i talked about it and this is what in texted her this evening as i am going back there to finish up tomorrow.

"I am planning on stopping by in the morning to work on the screen. Also i need to get the compressor and gun to use at the other job for a few minutes. I'll bring it back so you can use it at your leisure ok? We'll be there around 0900. Is this ok, will you be dressed and ready for us to start?"

She just responded with this note "I have a dentist appointment at 8:00, but come on in if I am not here. That's very kind of you to loan your gun. I'm going to nail some trim tomorrow morning before I go to the dentist and hope to have it all done before I leave. I'll leave a note on the compressor if I still need it. Also please take the left over sheet rock. A moment of insanity came over me when I said I wanted to keep it!!!!"

Not a word about being dressed so i think she understands. No?

Also i do my best to have someone else with me, but like this morning, it didnt work out.

One other thing to consider; if i was a woman doing some contracting work on a mans house and the guy decided to just take a shower and leave the door open. Would i be justified in saying to the man hey this makes me uncomfortable and i expect that you'll be dressed or let me know when you are not so i can take appropriate action?

[This message edited by assjack at 8:24 PM, November 20th (Tuesday)]

hikingout posted 11/20/2018 22:46 PM

For clarification, was the door open to her bedroom but she was inside the master bathroom or literally there was no other room separating it from the hall? And are you sure both doors were open?

If I were a woman contractor, or a job like that, my guess is that I would feel uncomfortable going into peoples houses where I was alone with a male. Probably a double standard. Even though I know self defense, I am little and could easily be overtaken. So women would always be on guard for safety in ways that would be different than a guy. But let’s say I had gotten around that mentally buffed up or had a weapon or whatever, it would depend on his vicinity in the house to where I am working. If he is not expecting me back where he is I would think it was me who crossed into his space I guess. If he was expecting me to work in the vicinity of his bathroom then stripped down and hopped into shower knowing he could be in full view at any time, I would tell him that I could recommend another contractor that’s a better fit for what he wanted done. I think you hold your boundaries for yourself, if you have a client that is a problem either always arrange to have someone with you on that site or don’t continue the job. Anything else just comes off as you being creepy and unfortunately it is a double standard that okey would not happen in a female situation. Instead of pervy we would be considered “odd” or possibly giving a vibe that we might be prone to misinterpretation and possibly sounding false alarms.

Overall, this is an ongoing issue and one that you continue to struggle with. Is there really all these ladies who are trying to get your attention or is there hypersensitivity to it? Most times you seem to have your head in straight and are transparent with your wife when these things arise.

The text exchange seemed fine but she likely thought nothing about the being dressed comment as it was nonchalant and sounding gentleman like in wanting to come at the proper time. I would not read it as that you didn’t like that I took a shower the day before.

assjack posted 11/21/2018 02:31 AM

For clarification, the bedroom is right off the kitchen/dining room. At the end of this is a large window that had to be taken out and the rotten wood replaced. At the other end is a hall with a utility room and the door to the garage.

I do not know if there is another door into the master bath, as i think it is inappropriate to look around people's houses unless that is where the job is.

I guess the thing is i don't know what she is thinking and what her boundaries are. So all i can do say hey these are my boundaries. She does not know what my boundaries are I have to let her know. I think gently at first and see if she respects them and then more forceful if she doesn't. This would be to the point where i don't work for her any longer.

Yes i do think i am hypersensitive to it, but is that wrong? I am in people's houses all the time, this can not be avoided, it is what i do. I feel like i need to defend my boundaries or why say i have them in the first place, right?

Bestthing posted 11/21/2018 04:46 AM

Your last sentence says it all. “Why SAY you have them.” Boundaries are not something that you need to SAY you have. Yes you would need to speak up for yourself sometimes, but your boundaries have to be reasonable. If what crossed your boundaries is in your head, then you are making everyone around you pay for your past mistakes and fantasy. That is a sure sign of someone WITHOUT boundaries.

assjack posted 11/21/2018 06:06 AM

Say was the wrong word. I wasn't really sure how to say implement, have, show etc.

So my boundaries are unreasonable? I can not expect that my clients will be dressed when I am around them and in their house doing work with prior arrangement. I guess, being a WS, I am just expecting too much of them and myself.

One thing about boundaries: if my clients don't like them they can just fire me as well. This is a two way street, right?

ThisIsSoLonely posted 11/21/2018 08:48 AM

I think you handled it just right as well. I mean seriously, the client has the issue in this situation, not you. I will say this, as a BS that would still make me uncomfortable...but not because of anything you did, but because it would remind me that there are going to be people who test your boundaries everywhere you go. And then I have to remind myself, those people are there to test mine as well.

My WH and I talked about boundaries just the other night and our D-day2 is pretty fresh, but he looked a bit surprised when I told him that even since his A my boundaries have been tested several times. I think he forgot (because he is so wrapped up in this situation he created) that these "opportunities" arise for me as well. While I don't have anyone currently at my place of employment basically throwing themselves at me (or giving me strong indications they are open to something else - which from all the messages I've seen between my WH and the OW show that's pretty much what happened with him at the start as cliche as it is) it has happened to me before and I didn't take the bait. Why I'm telling you this is that after time your BS will know that your boundaries are in place - and while you can't stop some crazy client from doing dumb things (and it is could be some maniac...don't these people watch Forensic Files?!?!) the more your BS knows about what happens and how you handle it, the better things will improve for you. Also from a legal perspective, you handled it just about perfectly - no need to talk to that client about it as it can get weird.

I think as a BS and WS too, forget that boundaries are tested, opportunities to do bad things abound, for pretty much everyone. Being open and honest about them breaks them down and gives you a sense of being a team - you against the boundary testers - and it makes it much easier to combat and move through. Good job in handling that the right way as best you could (seriously though, that woman is crazy for doing that).

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 8:49 AM, November 21st (Wednesday)]

Zugzwang posted 11/21/2018 08:54 AM

Agree with bestthing. You don't state your boundaries you act them, unless someone clearly crosses them. If you don't want clients showering or dressing while you are there..then put it in your contract. You wouldn't be making it personal (as in I couldn't follow any in the past), it would be business. Hell, you could even state- to protect myself and my employees in the Me Too movement. Honestly, I would be less focused on her intentions and more focused on protecting yourself from false accusations.

Bigger posted 11/21/2018 09:38 AM


I get it that you want your boundaries, but keep in mind the most efficient boundaries are the ones you set yourself. You can’t really expect others to have your boundaries, but you can control if your boundaries hold or not.
I have often compared a lot of infidelity to addiction. A recovering alcoholic will be advised to stay away from alcohol. He would be told to avoid bars, dinner-parties with alcohol and even the booze section at the local store. If his family is supporting him in his recovery they are advised to have a dry home. But at some point, in the recovery he must learn how to be around temptation. If his recovery is solid it’s relatively easy because the alcohol isn’t really a current temptation, but the alcoholic knows how close the ledge is and learns to deal with it.
A recovered alcoholic – well on his path to recovery – can go to a bar with his friends. He can sit there with his tonic and lime and have a blast. But chances are he will leave early. Chances are he won’t be tempted to hold someone’s drink. Chances are he won’t work at a bar. He will avoid the temptations simply to keep his borders clear and clean.

It’s the same with you. It’s reasonable that you stay away from temptation, but at the same time it would be a little strange to send anyone and everyone a list of conditions for interaction. I think phoning your BS was a good idea, but frankly ass (somehow being on first name basis doesn’t really work with you…) IF you are out of infidelity you could theoretically fix her shower with her soaping herself at the same time and you wouldn’t be tempted. But… your boundaries would probably keep you away from that task.

Since I married my wife (my bout with infidelity was in another relationship) I have twice entered strip-joints. Both cases because my wife asked me. Both cases because her single alcoholic brother was going and she wanted me to monitor him. My wife felt safe in knowing that I could be in such a place, be respectful to the girls plying their trade and come out having been faithful. Yes, I saw what I saw and being a red-blooded male there was “a transfusion of blood…” but that was it. I wasn’t temped or for a minute thought of getting a private dance or anything of that sort. My wife knew that because of who I am and what I want to be then she could trust me completely.

assjack posted 11/22/2018 08:38 AM

Zug you are right it is about protecting my marriage, me and my people. I was not tempted, i was angry that she would put me in the position where i felt she was crossing my boundary. I acknowledged this and acted in a manner that kept my boundary in tact, ie leaving the place. So i was doing/living my boundaries and values.

All i was trying to ask here is i feel that i need to gently say hey you crossed my boundary and it made me uncomfortable and i took action to keep it intact. This way if anything happens again i can say I'm done with you.

I can not control how anyone acts except for myself. My boundaries tell me that if anyone does this, i will react in a manner that preserves them and my values.

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