So, if you witnessed firsthand a male patron harassing a waitress at a restaurant, what would you do? Would you stand up for her, or would you simply ignore it and continue on with your meal as if nothing had happened?
ABC’s reality TV show What Would You Do? looked into the aforementioned issue by conducting a social experiment, while throwing light on real-life events of men and women speaking out against sexual harassment at their workplace.
With hidden cameras placed secretly in corners of Park Avenue Diner in South Plainfield, New Jersey, actor Ben portrayed the patron, who sexually harasses actor Diana, a waitress.
The customers seated nearby were not arranged. During the reenactment, Ben kept pestering Diana, asking for her number, even though she said she had a boyfriend.
“Hey, are you all set or is there anything else I can get for you?” Diana asked.
Ben replied, “You can get me your number.”
“I don’t think my boyfriend would like that too much,” Diana explained.
Not giving up, the persuasive Ben said, “Well yeah, is your boyfriend here right now?”
He then crossed the line and continued to make inappropriate advances toward her under the nose of other customers.
“What time you get off work?” Ben asked. “You know you’re supposed to give the customer what he wants.”
Though Diana kept her composure and ignored him, Ben continued, “I’ll just need the check and your phone number.”
“Why are you playing hard to get. What do you want?” he added.
Diana responded to Ben’s harassment politely and didn’t report his irksome behavior to her manager, because she needed the tips to pay her bills.
“No, I’m sorry,” she said.
But Ben wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. He even tried to whistle at Diana. So what do the other diners do, watching such a disturbing scene unfold right in front of their very eyes? Do they step up to help Diana? Or do they simply mind their own business and let the waitress handle the uncomfortable situation all by herself?
One man, sitting nearby, was decidedly direct. He gave Ben a stern warning, “Don’t get creepy like that, dude. Don’t get creepy.”
Seeing Ben’s unceasing aggression, another male customer, however, chose to demonstrate grace. He walked over to Ben’s table and even offered a bit of advice: “If she said, ‘No,’ just leave at that, because you don’t want her to think that, you know… that she’s leaning toward harassment.”
“Especially like when you touch her, she can sue you for battery. I’m doing this just to cover you. You know what I mean, I’m a lawyer, so I just don’t want you to get in trouble,” he continued.
On the other hand, another woman knew she had to do something to help Diana.
So, she decided to give the restaurant manager a heads up on the situation. She said to the manager, “He’s trying to ask her out and won’t leave her alone.”
After reporting to the manager, the woman headed back to her table. As Ben was leaving, he approached her and took one step further. He passed her a paper with his phone number on it, saying, “Hey, sorry to bother you. Would you mind just giving this to the waitress for me?”
The woman and her partner seem completely disgusted by Ben’s inappropriate behavior. When show host John Quiñones walks into the scene after talking to the waitress about the situation, he asks them for their opinion on the matter.
The lady explained she wanted “to protect her. I was so afraid, she’s a young girl.” While another admitted that Ben “was crossing the line.”
But the strongest protest comes in next. We won’t spoil it for you; watch how a customer protects the helpless waitress.
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