I was at a conference and a guy from a research centre approached me. Initially our conversation was on research but then he asked if I would like to go to a bar with him after the gala dinner. He looked at me in an erotic way that made me feel very uncomfortable. I told him that I couldn’t go with him because I had arranged online meetings with people in another time zone. I returned to my seat and, when another session of presentations started, he suddenly sat next to me and started to whisper his comments on the presentations. I hinted for him to stop talking but it seemed as if he just didn’t get it. During the presentation his arm and whole body leaned against me - essentially occupying the table in front of me so I had to lean back to escape his body contact. I even tried to ask to him to reposition. However, because of the ongoing presentation, I couldn’t say it very loudly so he pretended that he couldn’t hear or even understand me. At the end of the presentation, while people asked questions, he asked me again if I would like to go to the bar with him. I said no and, at that moment, I knew I wanted to stay as far away as possible from this person. I started to think about how to avoid him for what remained of the conference. As soon as the session ended, I said that it was nice talking to him and immediately left (ran). The next day, during a break, he asked me for my name card, to which I replied that I didn’t have one; then he asked for my phone number (instead of my email). I wrote down an incorrect one. During the second (final) day I tried to avoid him as much as I could. Whenever he approached, I tried to have conversations with others or stay close to my colleagues.

Finally, the conference ended and, when I returned to my hotel to pack, I noticed my umbrella was gone. I recalled that I left it in the conference room on the day when that guy sat next to me. Since all I was thinking at the end of the session was getting rid of him, I forgot my umbrella. Unfortunately, I no longer had the time to return to the conference centre as I had to catch a flight. I called the centre at the airport and asked if they had found an umbrella, thinking that my friend in that city could pick it up for me. The centre staff told me that everything had been cleaned up and no umbrella was found.

The umbrella has a small Totoro image on the outside and small flowers inside. It was a gift from my grandma bought from the Japan Centre during a World Expo. She has never travelled to Japan but remembered that I like Totoro. To this day, I regret the loss of my favourite umbrella because I was too hasty, running away from a douchebag who came to an academic conference to hit on women.