I will preempt the anti-swearing crowd by saying that while I swear occasionally, I try to reserve it for the various computers I have to work with. So unless you are a computer or step on my foot, you probably will never hear me swear.
I was leaving an appointment and decided to go into a sandwich shop down the street for lunch. As soon as I walked in, I noticed something amiss. The guy behind the counter was exceptionally… enthusiastic in greeting me. There was another man standing at the counter. The poor sandwich maker said, “I have to make this lady’s sandwich, sir. I’ll see you later!” The man at the counter then proceeds to try engaging me in conversation while I’m giving instructions to the young guy so I can have my food.
I quickly realized why the employee was trying so hard to get my attention. The creepy man at the counter apparently wouldn’t leave, the employee couldn’t walk away, and the conversation was… inappropriate. He was going on and on with increasingly offensive and disgusting topics that seemed to center around spiders. I can’t entirely get into details as it was gross and I will not repeat his disgusting behavior online.
Suffice to say, I was put off almost immediately and the poor sandwich maker had been stuck there for who knows how long, listening to this awful topic, unable to outright tell the man to go away for fear of losing his job.
I, however, had the luxury of telling the creep off.
“Dude! What is your problem? No one wants to hear any of that!” I shouted at him. I then turned away and back to the employee, who seemed relieved.
The creep stopped… until I left the counter.
“Hey, I’m real sorry. Didn’t know the topic offended you. I just…” and he started right back up with it.
Now, I am not a big woman, but I can hold my own in a fight if necessary, and I also carry pepper spray, which I quietly got out of my bag while putting my wallet away. I wasn’t completely scared of him. But this was harassment, and it wasn’t okay. During this time, three more people walked in, one of whom was a cop (but I honestly hadn’t noticed right away). The two women who came in could hear him and were clearly disgusted.
“What part of ‘NO’ didn’t you understand?” I shouted back. He smiled and continued to talk about the topic. So I started swearing. A lot.
I don’t know why, but people don’t seem to take me seriously until the swearing starts. This got not only the creep’s attention, but that of the cop who escorted him out (and eventually me to my car as Mr. Creep was hanging around).
After the scene ended, one of the ladies came up to me.
“I know he was being inappropriate, but did you really have to swear so much?”
Of all the things that she could have said to me, she wanted to bring up my language to a creep who wasn’t backing off. I had no words for her. When I didn’t immediately apologize for my language, she harumphed off to another table.
Oh, and when the manager found out, he gave me a gift card that has gotten me a lot of free sandwiches since. 0414-16
I have no issue with confronting creepy, harassing people in public but I would have done it slightly differently than you. There are a series of steps that escalate the response if the previous step is ineffective. I would not have started off by shouting but rather a very firm command to cease the offensive activity. Shouting comes a step or two later (although the caveat is that shouting is perfectly OK as a first step if there is physical contact). I’m not adverse to using an iphone to record the behavior either.
It has become a sad reality that, culturally, people do not take issues seriously until the use of vulgar words is employed. The f-bomb has become an extreme type of adjective that modifies a noun. A person isn’t just an asshole, which should be bad enough of an insult, he’s a f*cking asshole. I’ve wondered why we have morphed into this type of communication because when I was a child and teen and probably into my late twenties/early thirties, it was rare to hear the f-bomb used in public discourse. It’s very common now with people thinking nothing of dropping a plethora of swear words into everyday language. Have we become people who believe no one takes us seriously unless we use words to strongly emphasize what we say not just in confrontations but in everyday communications? And where do we go when the worst of swear words is so common that there is nothing verbally left to shock and awe? Raising the voice? Getting physical?
OP, I just don’t think you realize that your reaction was considered by bystanders to be just as inappropriate in its content as the topic of the man’s diatribe at the counter. He was talking about gross things, you undoubtedly used swear words that are vulgar representations of excrement and sex. Instead of having one person’s course language to hear, customers in the sandwich shop now had two. Your interaction with the man did get the attention of the police officer who, I very much suspect, entered the fray to put a stop to public disorderly conduct between two people.