Diner won­ders about stop­ping ha­rass­ment

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Society - Amy Dick­in­son Read­ers can send email to [email protected]­dick­in­son.com or let­ters to “Ask Amy” P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY, 13068.

Dear Amy: This morn­ing I was hav­ing break­fast in a cafe and I couldn’t help but over­hear the in­ter­ac­tion with our server at the ta­ble next to us. Our server was an at­trac­tive young woman. Two older men were seated at the next ta­ble. They were be­ing rude, ask­ing her ques­tions about her race: (“What are you mixed with?” “What are you?” “Do all your women look like you?”).

One man reached out and was touch­ing her arm and her wrist, while her body lan­guage clearly showed that she was un­com­fort­able. At one point one of the men said some­thing qui­etly that I couldn’t hear, but her re­sponse was, “Oh, that’s a bit creepy,” with a po­lite laugh.

Although she re­mained pro­fes­sional serv­ing them, she looked very up­set when she left their ta­ble.

I wanted to scold them. But I didn’t want to em­bar­rass our server.

What should I have done? — See Some­thing, Say Some­thing?

Dear Say Some­thing: One of my daugh­ters re­cently called the po­lice when she wit­nessed ver­bal and phys­i­cal ha­rass­ment on a crowded sub­way car. When I asked her why she had done this, she said, “I guess I have fi­nally just had enough.”

Of course, your diner episode does not rise to the level of po­lice in­volve­ment. But yes, you should say some­thing. I think we should all say some­thing.

You could have said, “Gen­tle­men, I think it would be swell if you would stop ha­rass­ing this young woman and let her do her job. In fact, I could use a re­fill.” (This would give her a rea­son to exit from their ta­ble.)

Then you could have spo­ken with the man­ager, de­scrib­ing the episode and giv­ing them a heads-up to how pro­fes­sional she is. An ex­tra-large tip (for her) would have demon­strated your sup­port.

Yes, your in­ter­ven­tion might have em­bar­rassed the server (and the older men) in the mo­ment. But — the fear of em­bar­rass­ment has kept too many of us too quiet for too long. So speak up.

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