Last Saturday, I planned a night out in Boston for my husband’s 49th birthday. We had planned to go to Boston to do a little Christmas/birthday shopping for a new pair of shoes I really wanted. But it snowed. So I decided to combine the shopping trip with a whole night out. Plus, we had heard from an Italian waiter from Tuscany, in Providence, that a restaurant called Bricco, on the North End, had wild boar sauce. When we were in Greve, Tuscany, back in 2008, it was one of our most memorable meals. I made a reservation at Bricco earlier that week and booked a room at my now favorite, dog friendly hotel chain, Kimpton. We stayed at the Onyx hotel on the north end of Boston right near TD Garden, formerly known as the Fleet Center, formerly known as the Boston Garden. (Why couldn’t they just leave the original name alone?)
My purpose here is not to write about our night out and tell you about how great our meal was, which it was. Instead I need to write about a moment of bystander intervention/interruption on behalf of our lovely server Carla. We were seated, upstairs, at a 2 top. Shortly thereafter a 4 top of two couples were sat. They seemed a little tipsy, but we had had a few drinks that afternoon before heading out, so who was I to judge?
I overheard a conversation between our server, Carla, who I will describe as a drop dead gorgeous Asian Jennifer Aniston, and the large bald man at the 4 top. The men were sitting on the outside chairs and the women by the window, so all of Carla’s interactions were with the men. This conversation was specifically about WHAT her race was. And I heard her say “I get that a lot.” And I also heard her say, “Oh that’s ok, really,” in reference to something racist one of them said about how she “looked.” Then, the larger bald man (this is really the only way I can describe him) reaches his hand around Carla’s back and kind of pats her ass. My husband looks at me with his mouth open in a “WHAT THE FUCK” kind of way. I look at him. “Did you see that?” He tells me he did. I look at him and warn him, “I might have to say something.” He smiles at me like “you go, girl.”
She comes over to check on us. “How are you doing over here?” I look at her. “We are fine,” I say, “but how are you?” She leans over and says she is so uncomfortable. I tell her that we were too and I might have to say something to the large bald man. She tells me not to worry about it.
Fast forward to the end of our meal. I pay the very expensive, probably most expensive meal I have bought for just the two of us, regretting that I didn’t add another wild boar sauce to go, put on my jacket, grab my purse and take a deep breath. I walk to the large bald man and his table, put my hand on his back, lean in and say “In the future, you shouldn’t touch your server.”
I turn and walk out mustering all the confidence I can in my short dress and new shoes.
When I get outside I tell the doorman that I called out a customer on his behavior toward our server, Carla, who was awesome, and I wanted to give him a heads up, in case the guy was pissed or gave her shit for my comment.
I’m trying to live my life in a way that I never have to say “I should’ve said something.” Or maybe I’m just getting braver as I move into middle age or maybe I just don’t give a shit anymore. I hope they were kind to her when she had to go back to the table. I wish I could’ve been there to hear the conversation that took place amongst the four of them after I walked out. Did I do the right thing?
For me, watching a woman get harassed next to me by someone with more power than her is not something I can sit idly by and do. I think if more of us had this attitude, sexism, racism and sexual violence would be less acceptable. When is the last time you felt your heart pounding in your chest as you addressed someone’s horrible behavior? It does get easier each time.