Monday, June 7, 2010

In which I stand up for myself to the guy who grabbed my butt and he gives me a $20 tip

It's time for a post where I don't look like a total idiot. One where I am woman hear me roar.

So few of those.

So many of the other.

But then as my former boss and current friend Kurt said, "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."

One hopes that as I am now into my 40s, I have had enough experience and can coast on good judgment for a while.

My freshman year in college, I worked as a cocktail waitress over Christmas break. It was probably illegal. A neighbor owned the bar and wanted some extra help and I wanted the work. Was it tips only? I might even have been off the books, except at that time, tips were not taxable so it wasn't such a big deal. It must have been a tips only deal, because I don't think I was old enough to be working in a liquor establishment. I was 18 and drinking age was 19.

Well. There you go. I'm a scofflaw from way back, Miss Goody Two Shoes who has otherwise always declared all her income and gets really mad at those who don't because they are making the rest of us pay more. But even if I had been paid an hourly wage, I wouldn't have made enough to pay taxes anyhow, so there you go.*

It is easy to make money as a cocktail waitress. All you have to do is remember what people are drinking and be able to do math in your head. I also discovered it helped to card the women, who grumbled about, "Don't I look old enough to drink?" but said that just for form's sake because what woman doesn't want to be thought under 19 years old?

And I discovered that I got better tips when I wore a skirt than when I wore pants.

One evening, as I was leaning over in my short denim skirt wiping a table with club soda, for that is how you get the stickiness off the surface, a man casually grabbed my butt as he walked past me.

I stood suddenly, startled and flabbergasted.

Nobody had ever grabbed my butt before. Not even a boyfriend, of which I had had two if you count the gay swimmer. I had certainly never had an unsolicited butt grab.

What to say? What to do?

I thought about it. This man's behavior was unacceptable. My body, my butt.

I marched over to him. He was standing with some friends, laughing.

"Excuse me," I said firmly.

He looked me up and down. "What?"

"Do you have a daughter?"

He looked confused. "No."

Rats. There went my plan. Wait. Improvise, adapt, overcome.

"Well, if you did, how would you feel if someone did something like that to her?" I demanded.

He sputtered, "But it just looked so cute!"

"How would you feel?"

He said nothing as I walked away, vindicated. Ha. Showed him. He wouldn't be grabbing any more butts, would he?

Six minutes later, he was at my side. "Here," he said as he handed me $20.

I thought about the implications. Was I selling out? Letting him have forgiveness for $20? Should I reject his plea and his money?

I took the money. Twenty dollars was $20. He would think twice about grabbing if it was going to cost him that much every time.

* When I was a Peace Corps volunteer, I, and all the other volunteers I knew, got an earned income credit after filing our taxes. I was so outraged at the stupidity of this that I returned my check uncashed with a letter to the IRS. They were oblivious. Perhaps they thought it was OK to use taxpayer money to supplement the stipends of volunteers who were living just fine in Chile or 3rd world countries. I doubt that was the intention of the people who created the program.


  1. Wow, what a presence of mind to ask the guy if he had a daughter. He probably thinks of you often now that he has a family. I'm impressed you had the gumption at eighteen to stand up for yourself. I probably would have decked him. I hope I've taught my girls that "no" means "no" and it's your body. Thanks for the lesson.

  2. Michelle, I can't believe I knew to do that, either! Usually I think of the perfect retort 12 hours after an encounter. I should get the phone number of the person who has bugged me so I can call and say, "Remember when you did this? Well let me tell you something!"


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