Ask The Salty Waitress: What Should I Do When My Creepy Pal Hits On Our Server?

Ms. Salty,

Question: how to deal with the dickhead male buddy in your party that is hitting on a female server? You know this type of guy. He thinks he's God's gift to women, etc.

The easy answer is that they should not be your buddy and/or you should keep confronting them directly, but life is of course not that simple... there's alcohol in the mix, he's "working out some shit in his life."

What should I do? Thanks in advance!Greg

Oh Greg. I'm telling you what you already know, but allow me to lay it out plainly: Your buddy sounds like a jerk. I'm assuming from the way you worded your question that the servers don't flirt back, and that his behavior makes them uncomfortable.

Your question is different than this one about cheapskate/inconsiderate friends from a few months back. If your buddy was just a standard knucklehead, I'd point you to my response to that question. But the "creepy friend" is a specific type of problem, and one that deserves its own action plan.

You don't mention exactly what this guy's done or said in the past, which would have been helpful for me to understand which lines he's crossing. Comments about a server's body, marital/dating status, sexual orientation, etc., aren't okay, unless she voluntarily offers details about her dating life—which, frankly, I don't see happening. And touching a server (heaven forbid) is never okay.

My mom used to tell me stories about her years working in a bakery in the 1970s. Her boss would pinch her ass; customers would stare at her chest; and it was all pretty much par for the course. I'd like to think that times have changed, but I've still been asked out, leered at, objectified, and called sexual names by customers. There's a specific type of guy who thinks that because your job is to wait on his table, it's also your job to entertain his gross comments and flirt back with him. Nope, not part of my job description. Just because this behavior was jokingly tolerated for decades didn't make it okay then and doesn't make it okay now. No one deserves to be harassed or made uncomfortable while doing their job, and that includes hospitality workers.

So, here's what you have to do if you want to be on the right side of the situation: You have to speak up when he behaves this way, and then talk to him about it privately later. When he's starting to put the "suave" routine on at dinner, speak up and allow the server to go on doing her job: "Hey, I think our server would rather hear about our orders" or just "Knock it off, man, I'm trying to eat here." But his attitude isn't going to change if you don't get serious with him and tell him that his behavior makes servers uncomfortable.

And I'm giving a big Salty eye roll to his "I'm working shit out in my life" excuse. Since when does going through a hard time give you the right to be a creep? It sounds like there are bigger issues at work here, and maybe it's time for you—or someone who's better friends with this guy—to have a frank conversation about his emotional state. It's important for guys to have these conversations with each other. Women can't be the only ones doing the work.

You wrote that "the easy answer" is to distance yourself or confront him, but "it's not that simple." I think in this case, Greg, it is that simple. You might just have to go out on a bit of a limb for what you know is right.

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