Moving to a new city and trying to make friends is hard for everyone.
But it would be especially hard if any potential new friends scared you away.
One group of people took that too literally on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor scaredhikergirl recently experienced a seriously scary misunderstanding with her coworkers.
After the team started treating her differently because of it, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she had overreacted.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for driving away from a ‘hiking trip’ with my boss’s husband?”
The OP struggled to make friends in a new city.
“I ([female] 26) recently moved to a new city after getting a job. I’ve been having a hard time making friends.”
“Most of the people I know so far are from work. We all get along but we aren’t close, more like acquaintances.”
“My boss ‘Sue’ has been very welcoming since I moved. She often has us all over for dinner and loves to celebrate whenever there’s a birthday or baby or big milestone in the team.”
Sue recently invited the OP to try out her husband’s hiking club.
“Last week, I was out to lunch with Sue and a few other coworkers when Sue told me about a hiking group her husband runs and how it’s a great way to meet people.”
“She said he’d be leading a hike on Monday (this past Monday) and the whole team should go since it’s a holiday.”
“Monday was my birthday but I hadn’t told anyone and I didn’t have any other plans, so I said yes to the hike.”
But the OP was surprised when she arrived at the club’s meeting place.
“I drove to the meeting spot on Monday, which is kind of remote and up in the hills.”
“Nobody was there when I arrived besides Sue’s husband ‘Greg’.”
“I asked him where everyone was. He said no one else could make it and it would just be us on the hike.”
“It was early morning and still dark and I didn’t know Greg other than seeing him in passing at Sue’s house.”
“I knew he was probably a nice guy, but I felt nervous going hiking in a dark, remote area with a man who was practically a stranger.”
“I called Sue and she told me that something came up with her kid but I should go, it’ll be worth it for the view, etc.”
“I still felt unsettled and asked Greg if we could postpone for a day when others can come.”
Greg did not respond well to this suggestion.
“He got frustrated, saying it’s no big deal and we should hurry up and start.”
“I was more nervous at that point and thanked him before saying I was going to head home.”
“That upset him even more and he came toward me and asked me if I thought he was a serial killer.”
“He seemed angry so I panicked and jumped in the car, saying I had to go.”
“He kept yelling at me to stop as I drove away.”
She was furious with the OP for how she interacted with Greg.
“I was on the way home, terrified, when Sue called me.”
“Apparently the ‘hiking trip’ was a cover for a surprise birthday party the team was throwing me at the lookout point.”
“She found out the date of my birthday through Facebook, and Greg was just supposed to lead me there.”
“I felt terrible and offered to drive back but Sue was p**sed and said I ruined it for everyone and made Greg feel like a creeper.”
The OP felt like she ruined everything.
“Now the environment at work is tense.”
“Sue and my coworkers only talk to me when they need something, and they didn’t invite me to team lunch.”
“I feel like I really messed up.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some could not believe the team’s lack of empathy.
“Imagine having so little empathy for a 26-year-old woman that it doesn’t occur to you that she has to watch out for her personal safety, and then you blame her for ruining your fun when she takes good care of herself.”
“These people aren’t just clueless, they’re callous and self-absorbed.”
“This surprise party was for their own fun. They weren’t really thinking of her, and they don’t give a s**t about her perspective.” – Grassfire_mouse
“If I was OP, Greg would have got his a** pepper-sprayed and probably got hit with my vehicle…”
“This is crazy! OP is NTA. That ‘surprise’ was poorly planned and poorly executed.”
“GTFO (get the f**k out), why not yell at OP, ‘it’s a surprise party!’ and call Sue or a coworker to confirm?”
“Super messy and f**ked up that Greg and Sue then called off the party…”
“Wtf? Entitled bratty crap… like OP, document this, but like you should not have to find a new job… however, how your boss and coworkers are NOW treating you screams alarm bells, IMO (in my opinion).” – KokoGurl28
“This is what just blows my mind. Like… nobody thought that she might possibly freak out about going off into the dark with a stranger? Are these people just completely devoid of any kind of self-preservation instincts?”
“And none of them can look at how it played out and be like, ‘Oh my god, that was SUCH a bad idea, I’m so sorry’?” – littlegreenapples
“NTA you did nothing wrong, Greg should have either come clean or not got mad as that just escalated the situation or sue should have let u come back and u all could have laughed it off.” – j027
“NTA. So who holds a birthday party super early in the morning? Was it because they wanted to do it before work?”
“I feel bad for the situation you’re in because I would have felt bad afterwards but I also would have acted the way you did even though I’m a guy.” – coolgaara
“NTA! Greg’s reaction to your hesitancy is super creepy, even if the overall intention was good.”
“Although it was a nice gesture on Sue’s and everyone else’s part, they must be major idiots to think a woman is going to go off into a dark and secluded hiking spot with a man she does not know.”
“I hate to say it, but you need a new job if sue and all of your coworkers don’t agree with how you reacted to such a sketch situation.” – WSF_1
“NTA. If they know that you think nobody knows your birthday, then it’s completely irrational and unfair to expect you to go along with this plan and entrap you with guilt.”
“You aren’t psychic. There’s literally no way for you to have known.”
“In fact, by making it a surprise this way, they went out of their way to keep you from knowing. So it’s just not your fault.” – Aerik
“NTA; as someone who also has a tough time making friends, I admire that you even went out in the first place and got out of your comfort zone – that’s a very admirable thing.”
“There were so many red flags about this, and trusting your gut was the best thing you could’ve done.”
“Nobody being around, it’s dark, you don’t know this man, AND he became increasingly aggressive when you didn’t want to go.”
“Why he didn’t just drop it and say that the plan was a birthday thing, is beyond me; they are being the a**holes by excluding you instead of being empathetic and understanding your POV.”
“I’m sorry you’re dealing with this!” – mainecoonpriest
“I think another thing to consider is these people don’t know you very well. They don’t know your past or any potential triggers.”
“A lot of people are uncomfortable with surprises or being put in unexpected situations so they should have been more considerate with your feelings. They are now acting like children.”
“If you don’t want to take this to HR at least start documenting what is happening, I think they might be concerned about the number of social events which are mandatory.” – nirvanacats
“NTA. They should have at least had a coworker or someone you knew with Greg who seemed comfortable around him.”
“That way, you probably would have gone ahead with him. Maybe even had Greg fess up if you seemed uneasy.” – Jupiturtle
Others were concerned about Greg’s behavior.
“If I’d messed up planning a surprise party like that I would’ve called apologizing and checking if she’s okay by the time she’d left.”
“Frankly, if I had a husband (or male friend/family member) acting like that, he would’ve gotten a mouthful.”
“You do not yell at a woman who doesn’t know you, is unintentionally alone with you, and who already seems scared. Come on. That’s basic human decency. NTA at all.” – nzkfwti
“Right? The last thing I want is some man I barely know demanding to know if I thought he was a serial killer in a dark remote area. Forget that nonsense.” – PouncingFox
“The husband himself isn’t inherently creepy (not until he started yelling about not being a serial killer!).”
“Meeting the husband on his own when you’ve been told it’s an established group activity and your coworkers all wanted to join in, but somehow absolutely no one else is there… that’s creepy.”
“It’s clear that something isn’t as you were told, because the coincidence of everyone calling off simultaneously and no one letting you know in the run-up, is just not credible.” – Normal-Height-8577
A few felt so bad for how the OP spent her birthday.
“She spent her own birthday in the new city traumatized and not only none of them had the decency to apologize but are also ostracizing her.” – Glitterdoomsday
“I honestly don’t see why the other coworkers couldn’t have hiked with them TO the party, like that would be a great bonding time instead of having op go with a stranger!”
“Like, have someone stay at the site to make sure nothing goes missing or animals don’t show up, but having the other party planners hike with op could be so much more fun!” – Pearly-dream
“I don’t know what organization you work for, however, Sue is asking to be terminated and engaging your company in major law suit. Why?”
“Everything you just explained even if he was not a legit ‘Creeper’ the scenario was open book to accusations included ‘Sue set me up’ easily perceived they are both into something and she ‘Gets the girls’.”
“Additionally, if this incident is, has, or appears to have created a toxic work environment you have legal recourse. Personally I think there was or is something sinister going on here (just going by your description of Sue and workplace) some bizzare cult of personality thing in this environment because nobody with any ‘Danger awareness’ would go hiking up anywhere with someone they never met regardless of connections.”
“At minimum your coworkers should be having an ‘ah—ha’ moment realizing the stupidity in their planning and at minimum finding some humor while apologizing for the position you where placed in along with the fear it caused you.”
“Legal advice to managers, administration, and organizations. Do your celebrations at the office alcohol free and if, where, or how your team chooses to take it after has no connection with the company.”
“Hiking, biking, boating etc etc etc the days are long gone where someone can be ‘punished’ for not ‘playing’ our personal time is ours. You are experiencing someone operating on a ‘Madmen’ 1950s corporate mindset and although you went willingly to this gathering it is also your choice to stay or go.”
“Furthermore, never let go of your instincts and roll with your ‘I do not feel safe’ compass. I applaud you for going with your instincts—never give it up.”
“After years of being criminal profiler I never really stop mourning all those who felt a false sense of security and brutally, viciously, and despicably lost their lives because individuals even Satan would not take hunt humans for pleasure.”
“Being married, a friend, and so on? BTK was married, Bundy had a girlfriend and worked for a Senator, Golden Gate killer married and ex-cop and so many more on list public has lost count.”
“You’re smart, intelligent, and did the right thing. Something bizarre is happening there, however, it is not you.”
“You have legal recourse if it’s affecting your livelihood and it’s up to you on how to proceed.” – Nightingale1965
No matter what Sue and the OP’s coworkers might have had planned for the OP’s birthday, the subReddit could agree that this was poorly executed, and the OP could not have had more reasons to try to protect herself.
In a situation like this, simpler would have been so much better.