Author Topic: Inappropriate Office Space Renter  (Read 5474 times)

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Em-and-Em

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Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« on: December 31, 2012, 03:16:21 PM »
This is something that happened to me a few years ago, but I'd be interested to hear others' take on it:

At the time, I was interning at a small museum.  The museum was a cash-strapped nonprofit, and in order to bring in some income, the director decided to rent out some of the extra office space.  This director was a very strange person who didn't always make the best decisions (for example, she would bring her 150-pound dog into work every day and let him wander around the museum floor).  She ended up renting out the space to a photographer who, as one staff member politely put it to me, "took pictures of wives to send to their army husbands".

I was completely horrified by this arrangement - to me, it seemed totally inappropriate to have some guy doing  photographs sans clothing in a public space that was supposed to serve the community.  It was also a little unsettling to be trying to work in the office space while knowing that someone was disrobing and doing suggestive poses a few rooms away.  The director, however, had no problem with this guy as long as he paid rent - in fact, she claimed that he was doing a "good service for the community" because there was a large army base in town.

Well, one day I was doing a toddler program in the museum.  There was only one set of bathrooms in the entire building, which were situated on the far side of the toddler area.  In the middle of the program, the doors to the office space swung open and a women wearing nothing but sneakers and a short robe came out and walked through the length of the toddler area to the bathrooms.  The parents who were there all stared at her in disbelief - it was painfully obvious that she wasn't wearing anything under her robe - and then swiveled their heads around to me.  One of them asked me what was going on.  Caught on the spot, I couldn't come up with a viable excuse as to why this woman was in the museum, so I stammered out the truth.  The rest of my program was incredibly uncomfortable, and I noticed that most of those parents didn't return the next week.

Anyway, I told one of the staff members what had happened and she seemed rather angry - apparently the photographer had been told that if any of these women needed to use the bathroom they had to come down fully clothed.  Nothing happened though - this guy continued to rent the office space and carry on his business.  I'm wondering now, though, if I should have done anything different in this situation - specifically, what should I have told these parents?  Should I have alerted a museum board member (one of the other interns was staying in a a board member's home)?  Should I have spoken to the bathroom-using woman myself?

chigrrl1

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2012, 03:46:05 PM »
I would be pretty mellow about this since the issue with the toddlers seeing the model happened only one time and she was wearing a robe--it's not like they came across her doing something vulgar with the displays.  One would *think* that tours and photo sessions would be coordinated so as not to intersect.  As far as any etiquette issue in regards to the nature of the photographer's work, I see none.  It's a museum, it may very likely have it's own collection of nudes.  If this arrangement is bringing in much needed funds and the director supports it, I think the only issue is that of proper timing and scheduling to avoid any future incidents.  Mentioning the incident to the director would have been appropriate, not to shut down the photographer's endeavor's entirely, but to ensure that everything is coordinated in a way to avoid future  blips.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2012, 04:24:30 PM »
I'd have no problem with the work itself, but I would have an issue with it spilling out into public areas.  If museum patrons wouldn't be allowed to wander around communal space in a short robe and bare feet, the artist's models shouldn't be allowed to do it either.  That said, I think whatever they want to do in the space they rented is fine as long as it doesn't damage the building - and I think it's unreasonable to be upset about someone being nude in another room.  Your coworkers are all nude under their clothes, after all  :P

onyonryngs

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2012, 04:33:33 PM »
You told the appropriate staff member & someone may have talked with the guy but they weren't obligated to discuss the results of their conversation with you.  I don't see anything wrong with his business though.  I would just let this go as it sounds like it was a one-time deal since you didn't mention any future occurrences. 

hobish

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2012, 04:40:59 PM »
You told the appropriate staff member & someone may have talked with the guy but they weren't obligated to discuss the results of their conversation with you.   I don't see anything wrong with his business though.  I would just let this go as it sounds like it was a one-time deal since you didn't mention any future occurrences.

That is a really good point. It may have never happened again because someone had a word with the guy. Who knows?
Add me to the list of not really having a problem with the guys business and it happening in a museum. Someone possibly undressing a few rooms away is just not a blip on the radar. I mean ... most of us use public bathrooms, no?  :-X

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MrsJWine

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2012, 04:56:12 PM »
It's not appropriate public space, certainly, but a woman in a bathrobe walking past a bunch of toddlers is not a huge deal if you think about it. Toddlers couldn't care less; it's covering the same amount of skin as shorts and a t-shirt would. And most kids that age have no sense of modesty anyway. Might as well send a cat in a bathrobe trotting past them. Yes, still totally inappropriate, but if it never happened again, I would chalk it up to the woman acting like an idiot; I'm guessing she just slipped out, and the photographer didn't have anything to do with it.

As for the business going on in your building... well, things go on all over the place all of the time, constantly. I live in an apartment building with many other couples living under the same roof. I know what that means, of course, but it really doesn't distract me from going about my business.


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blarg314

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2012, 08:30:17 PM »

Personally, I wouldn't be too bothered by the use of the space if it didn't spill out into the rest of the museum - it's perfectly legal, and not the kind of thing that attracts other unsavory behaviour to the area.

I think telling the truth was perfectly fine. If the use of the rental space is acceptable, it's therefore fine to discuss it matter of factly when someone asks. If the use is somehow shameful and secret, and therefore cannot be spoken of by people who know about it, then it shouldn't have been rented out for that purpose in the first place. And exception would be something where confidentiality was important (counselling, or medically related, for example) in which case the employees should be given a neutral stock answer for when people ask.

I do agree that having someone in nothing but a bathrobe wandering through museum activities is not appropriate, even though the toddlers don't care, and don't really see anything.

Deetee

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2012, 08:59:41 PM »
I'd have no problem with the work itself, but I would have an issue with it spilling out into public areas.  If museum patrons wouldn't be allowed to wander around communal space in a short robe and bare feet, the artist's models shouldn't be allowed to do it either.  That said, I think whatever they want to do in the space they rented is fine as long as it doesn't damage the building - and I think it's unreasonable to be upset about someone being nude in another room.  Your coworkers are all nude under their clothes, after all  :P

Quick note: she was wearing sneakers.

Add me to the list of people who don't see anything wrong with renting to someone who is engaged in a perfectly legal profession that happens to involve some nudity that I never see.

And wandering semi clothed past toddlers wouldn't bother me (teenagers, I would have more of a concern). But that only happened one time, right?

ladyknight1

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2012, 09:21:27 PM »
As long as the rental of the space does not violate the rules of the governing body, I see nothing wrong with it. While there may be nude photography occurring in a closed space, it is not illegal.

m2kbug

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2012, 09:26:42 PM »
I don't see anything wrong with the photography situation, but yes, I would agree that the models should be dressed or covered better if they needed to exit and of course measures in place so there is privacy and people couldn't see in the office space and the nudity.  I would worry more if the particular caliber of business attracted a certain caliber of people.  Knowing the nature of this photography, there are people who are going to be offended or upset (I can't think of a better word here), and I do think measures need to be in place to maintain a separation.  This woman was more covered than what you see at the swimming pool, so I wouldn't put too much worry into that one. 

sweetonsno

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2013, 11:58:37 PM »
There's nothing at all wrong with the business being in the building, so long as the nudity itself isn't visible to the general public. Would anyone have an issue with this if it was a guy who taught figure drawing and had live models for his classes? It's really not all that different.

I suspect that everyone would have stared even if she'd been in a robe coming down to her ankles. I can't really picture the museum, but I can see it being a bit awkward if there is only one bathroom and the women have to walk past the general public. Maybe he can get a screen or something that his customers can disrobe behind. I know that with figure models, even though they'll be stark naked, they usually undress and put on a robe or wrap away from the artists.

blarg314

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2013, 02:50:29 AM »

The simplest way to express things would be to insist that all people in the museum public areas be dressed in a suitable fashion for attending a museum. A bathrobe and tennis shoes and nothing else is not appropriate wear for a museum, and a person dressed like this should be asked to leave.





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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2013, 12:10:36 PM »
If the director won't deal with the photographer, could you mention it to the board of directors?

BeagleMommy

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2013, 01:55:05 PM »
I think the woman should have been made to put on something more appropriate if she was going to be walking through the museum.  The photographer had rented one office in the building, not the entire museum.  Shared spaces need to be treated as though you were going to be walking through a theme park.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Inappropriate Office Space Renter
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2013, 03:05:08 PM »
I think the woman should have been made to put on something more appropriate if she was going to be walking through the museum.  The photographer had rented one office in the building, not the entire museum.  Shared spaces need to be treated as though you were going to be walking through a theme park.

She was covered (even in a small robe) by about what shorts and a tank top would cover, so I don't see that as any different than what you would see in a theme park.

What I want to know is how it was obvious she was nude underneath.  OP?
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