Since the advent of Facebook, the term “creeping” has become rather mainstream. For all you non-stalker types, Facebook creeping generally involves adding someone as a friend, browsing all 863 of their tagged photos, committing their favorite quotes to memory and then performing an advanced Google search on anyone you suspect could have been his or her ex.
But long before Al Gore and the Internet, the same fundamental skills of Facebook creeping applied to real-world interactions — on the playground, in line at your neighborhood Dairy Queen, and, of course, at the office.
Some modern-day creepers opt to kick it old school with the in-person approach, while others prefer creeping from the privacy of their home computers.
My very own in-office creeper was the facilities clerk, Pinkie. Pinkie was an unabashed creeper — a sort of no-holds-barred type — with agoraphobic tendencies, slimy pink fingers and the wardrobe of a stagehand.
One day, out of sheer boredom and minimal curiosity, I asked him how to pronounce his German surname.
His response? “You can pronounce it any way you’d like when we’re married.” Thanks, but no thanks.
But his creeping didn’t stop there. When those oh-so-subtle advances proved unsuccessful, he decided to take it up a notch.
I took a long beach weekend for the Fourth of July holiday, during which I came across a Cosmopolitan article warning readers of real-life stalkers who, after barely knowing a girl, would threaten to kill her if she so much as politely declined an invitation to hang out with them.
When I returned to work, I had plenty of copy jobs waiting for me. As I watched each page slide in and out of the machine, I began reflecting on the Cosmo article. As I recalled each horrifying detail about the twisted stalker mind, Pinkie snuck up behind me and whispered, “I missed you while you were gone … and not just because of work stuff.”
Let it be known, I missed one day of work. One.
Even though that exchange scared the living hell out of me, I’m not in a position to give Pinkie a lot of flack for his creeper tendencies. After all, the man taught me everything I know about what it takes to be an office creeper.
My first summer working at the law firm, one charming, though married, attorney was the target of all my stalking efforts. From here on, I will refer to this man as “Sexy Can I” after the Ray J hit single I listened to everyday on my morning commute.
On my last day at the office, he sent me a one-line email thanking me for all my hard work and wishing me luck at school.
Before heading out for good, I waited until no one was near the printing station and printed out his message, which to this day hangs proudly in my apartment bedroom.
When I got home, face wet with the tears of lunacy, I immediately opened my laptop and got down to business.
After performing an advanced Google search, I saw his name was listed on Classmates.com but realized I couldn’t gather any more information unless I was a member of the site. I was starving for information and thus, did not hesitate in creating an account under the alias “Sameer Patel.”
Even with a membership, none of the listed information would satisfy a full-fledged creeper like myself so I returned to the tried-and-true Google search.
That is when I stumbled upon a true creeping gem: an entire website created by and devoted to him and his wife. Suddenly, there were hundreds of pictures at my disposal — some I wanted to see (him tanned and smiling on his boat) and others (him in a mortarboard cap, swim trunks, marching band uniform or any combination thereof) I wish I hadn’t.
But in the end, it was this seemingly unhealthy behavior that helped me get over my massive, and unattainable, crush on a man 11 years my senior. Knowing that I had access to hundreds of pictures of him at any given moment finally allowed me to stop my frenzied search.
The truth is, everyone creeps — just to varying degrees. A mild creeper might look you up in the White Pages, but would never have the courage to call. A full-blown creeper would move into your apartment complex, memorize your laundry schedule and somehow always end up removing and folding your unmentionables in order to use the dryer (even when there are four others not in use).
But creeping is not a choice as much as it as a curiosity-driven human instinct. Because we’re all guilty at one point or another, the best thing we can do is laugh it off as long as it’s within the limits of the law.
In the case of schoolgirl crush v. psychotic stalker, it is the judgment of this column that you should you choose to creep, your methods must be kept stealthy. Let’s hope my co-workers don’t perform a Google search on me — if they do, the first link will lead them to this incriminating column.
Kelsey Borresen is a junior majoring in print journalism. Her column, “Laugh-Idavit,” runs Mondays.