I had a meeting today in Cincinati. Whenever I travel to Cincinati, it’s usually an all day thing (it is a 3-hour trip in each direction)
On my return home, I decided to stop in Bowling Green for lunch. It was already 4:30pm, but hey, still lunch to me.
Whenever I’m in BG I try to eat at this one spot on campus that is known for its stuffed breadsticks. You can get them made anyway you like, but I usually order them with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese (not that adventurous, I know).
So I put in my order and wait for my food. The place doesn’t exactly offer fast service, which is understandable, since the breadsticks are made to order. I wasn’t in a hurry though.
So I’m waiting for my food, and my booth has a clear view into the kitchen. The food preparers and the waitstaff are mingling back there in between orders.
The Kitchen Manager (I’m calling him that due to his perceived authority) was making lude comments about and towards the female waitstaff.
What initially caught my ear was the gaul with which the kitchen manager spoke. I wasn’t eavesdropping, nor was I in close proximity, but I could clearly hear everything being said. The restaurant wasn’t empty, so I suspect other patrons heard it as well.
The manager seemed totally comfortable taking about these women’s bodies. He even touched/grabbed them on more than one occasion (I couldn’t see exactly what happened, but from the waitress’ reactions I could tell they had been touched.)
I was amazed at such brazen violations of personal space and human dignity out in the open. I decided to speak up for these women. Surely they needed someone to stand up for them, right?
But then I thought “Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they were not bothered by the Kitchen Manager’s actions.”
“Maybe they liked it.”
I hadn’t considered at all that the Kitchen Mangers verbal and physical advances were not unwanted. I had assumed that the female waitstaff (and other male employees) had no choice but to be subjected to the Kitchen Manager’s ridiculous behavior.
I didn’t it observe and visual cues that the women were uncomfortable; one of them appeared to be smiling the entire time. On of the male food preparers (I assuming a new employee) looked unsure whether to ignore the weird behavior or approvingly smile.
The whole incident made me think about this workplace behavior,#metoo stuff. Where is the line and how does one know when it has been crossed? Who’s responsible to say something and at what point should that something be said?
In a perfect world, it is easy to say the women should be brave and speak up (maybe they do so at the risk of losing their jobs) or that the other male employees should check the “bad actor” (how many people are that brave?). I don’t have the answers.
What I do know, is that when inappropriate is imposed on person, eventually all persons are affected in that setting. The question is how badly. I for one know the breadsticks didn’t taste as good today…