So I had an experience recently that has left me feeling pretty weird…
I used to be a writing tutor in undergrad and so, looking for a little extra work, I signed up for a tutoring website here in Ireland. It’s the sort of site where you make a profile and people get in touch with you if they’re interested in having you as a tutor. Things had been pretty quiet for while cause I hadn’t really fleshed out my profile, but then I got a message from this guy who wanted help with an essay he was writing.
We sent a couple messages back and forth and he said that he would like me as a tutor – we didn’t really seem to be on the same page about what my job really is (i.e. it seemed like he kind of wanted me to write things for him), but I figured we would clear things up when we met. He then went on to say that he wanted to meet the next day and called me to confirm that I was available. He then sent me an email saying he would like to meet at his apartment. I replied that I would rather meet at a coffee shop (because I feel weird meeting someone I don’t know in their home). He said that it wouldn’t really be possible because he only has a desktop, none of the cafes around have internet connection, and that public places are really distracting to him. He offered a local place to meet if I “insisted”, but it didn’t really seem like that be conducive to working, given his circumstances, and it struck as me a little weird that he was so hesitant to meet outside his apartment.
So, this is where I get weird – at first, I replied that we could meet at his apartment because it sounded like a coffee shop wasn’t plausible. But the more I thought about it, the weirder I felt about the whole thing. My gut just didn’t have a good feeling about this guy. There was something about our communication that made feel uneasy and I was already really stressing out about meeting with him. So, even though I know it was unprofessional, I canceled at the last minute. I sent him an email saying that I was so sorry, but that something had come up and I wouldn’t be able to tutor him anymore. I suggested he find another tutor on the website and apologized again. I didn’t mention anything about feeling uncomfortable about meeting him, I just said that I wasn’t able to do it.
He then sent me back an email saying that what I was doing to him was “absolutely unfair” and that he wasn’t a “human hunter”. He said that he had offered a public place to meet (which to be fair is true, although to me, it didn’t really feel like a genuine offer) and that he was left feeling very bad. He implied that I had essentially screwed him over for his papers and that he has had many other tutors from the website that have helped him without complaint.
So this is where I feel weird: did I do the right thing here? I have always been taught to go with my gut on things like this and, as a young woman, I feel like I’d rather be careful and risk being mean than not cautious enough and end up in trouble. At the end of the day, I don’t think we would have made a very good tutoring pair anyway given we had very different expectations of my job, but why am I left feeling so guilty about making someone feel bad who also made me feel deeply uncomfortable? How come in order to keep myself safe, I have to be on the receiving end of mean emails from men I don’t know, regardless of whether or not they had ill intentions?
Has anyone else dealt with this sort of thing? I’m genuinely curious if there’s anything I should have done differently or considered that I didn’t or if you would have done the same…