Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Boundaries and beliefs

It's funny how a situation represents so many different variables to different people.  Recently there was a situation that I found offensive as a woman.  The men that were involved found it funny as the guy that acted like a 13 yr-old, apparently, acts in this manner quite often.  They laughed out of wow, I can't believe he is doing this now.
He thought it would be funny to put a menu on the floor which would make this woman bend over to pick it up.  Of course, she is wearing a skirt and just the whole situation is gross and adolescent.  This other girl saw the situation unfold and she was angry. Instead of approaching management, she wanted to handle it directly.  I respect that she opted this route.  She gave this guy the opportunity to be accountable with his actions without involving management or the rest of the staff.  When approached about his behavior, he shut down.  His back stiffened and he became defensive.  He could not contemplate how his behavior was inappropriate or offensive.  He went home feeling that this girl was wrong.  He did not understand how it could be construed as harassment.  Since he didn't touch the woman or say anything, he thought it was an innocent joke.
Since then it's been discussed by others who worked that night as well as people that work with me.  Nobody wants to make a big deal out of it and the belief is that we all have played a part in creating this situation.  Men and women have both made inappropriate comments, suggestions, jokes.  Which is probably true.  That night, I repeated several jokes that I had been told from my party.  I waited on a wedding party of a gay partnership.  It was all men and one woman in attendance.  This group was celebratory, joyful and started telling super inappropriate jokes which I found funny.  I retold a few of them or tried too.  My timing is always off which mangles the punchline.
At any rate, I am new to the environment and oblivious in general.  I try to be professional and stay out of any of the drama.
In all honesty, the situation could be resolved with an apology.  The different meanings could be overlooked and everyone could move on with an apology, I know.  However, I don't know if this guy is adult enough to own up to his actions.  The emotion needs to be taken out of it before it is brought to management.  The girl that saw the behavior and called the guy out is still pretty fired up about the situation.  They argued over past indiscretions and some other things were brought up which were not the point.  The point is to address what happened on that one occasion and own up to it.  That way, I believe, we can move on.
I don't want to sit through a seminar on sexual harassment.  I worked at another establishment that had a situation that mandated a seminar every 6 months for a three year period to ensure that it would not happen again.  Those videos were outdated and horrible.
I think that if everyone could take a step back and address the one occurrence of jackass behavior it would improve.  Sometimes people say or do things without realizing how it is construed.  In this situation, I think the guy made a poor choice (something that he found funny) and didn't think about how it would effect others.
On a more basic level, I think of how sometimes, I see people's reactions to what I say (tone, inflection, transparent look) and realize that although I had meant to say it without emotion, my thoughts came screaming through based on how I looked while delivering the statement.  I am very transparent apparently.  Based on that, I have to retreat and explain that I did not intend for it to be taken so literally.  Sometimes I don't see the look of confusion on people's faces.  It happens where you don't know how people take innocent statements, or statements that seem innocent to you, until it is too late.  I feel the best remedy is to address right then and there.  I call it being a human being instead of cowardly writing an anonymous review on a website that will remain unnamed.  On a related topic, one of my friends that owns a restaurant mentioned starting a blog or website where servers/bartenders could blog about customers and how some are completely inappropriate and entitled they are.  Naming them, their habits, behaviors as this website allows reviews for restaurants.  I am all for it!  There are always two + sides to the story.  It is all about perspective, beliefs and truths.
Anyways, I am hopeful that an apology will occur and that the adolescent behavior will stop.  I don't think the guy was trying to be malicious.  I just think he is a child and naturally he thought it would be funny to do this joke in front of the guys.

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