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Swearing To Emphasize The Demand For Respect

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.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jinx April 19, 2016, 6:30 am

    I’ve always felt that it isn’t words we should be offended by, but the intention behind them. Words on their own hold no power, but our intonation, intention, and tone do.

    For example, talking about spiders isn’t inherently creepy…. but it sounds like this guy at the counter was taking enjoyment out of making a captive audience uncomfortable, which you could do with a variety of topics. I’m a woman who has worked retail, and have been in similar situations. Luckily, I’ve never been on the floor by myself, so I have had the luxury of walking away.

    It sounds like your intention was to get this man to stop. Without being there, it sounds like he was being terrifying, or you felt he could escalate to terrifying, since you got out mace.

    You mention that there were other people and it sounds like until the breaking point, they did nothing to stop the spider guy’s tirade. Either they weren’t bothered by it, or, more likely were too terrified to suggest he stop.

    You asked him to stop once. You asked him to stop twice.

    He did not listen either time. I’m not a big fan of a man who will listen or accept the word no.

    You possibly had not had time to think about what to do in a situation where a man is being inappropriate and is continually discounting the word no. I feel like mace at the ready was a good idea.

    So, no one else was doing anything, asking this person to stop 2 times wasn’t doing anything. You theoretically could have walked away, but were concerned for the sandwich maker. You brought your choices down to mace, or creating language you felt would terrify this man enough to stop. I don’t know what you said, other than you swore “a lot”. It brings up images of Ralphie from Christmas Story.

    I feel like you did the best you could with what you had. It’s difficult to mace people, as that can be considered assault depending on where you are, but a tirade of crazy loud language can say “I’m crazier than you” which can scare off a man like that.

    Did you have to swear so much? No. You didn’t have to do anything. One thing you definitely shouldn’t have to do is accept any inappropriate behaviour from a man. I’m sure, in the future, you could tell him you are calling police (and literally call), but you didn’t plan for this situation, you just reacted. Sadly, depending on the man either attempting to escalate yourself to terrifying or calling the police can also cause them to escalate, so I would always have your mace ready.

  • Charlotte April 19, 2016, 7:56 am

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with swearing if someone puts you in an uncomfortable situation. In all of the self defence courses I have taken swearing is one of the types of “defence” the instructors teach. People are more likely to pay attention then if you yell fire, rape or help, and it may help intimidate the attacker.

  • Mark2 April 19, 2016, 8:04 am

    This man wouldn’t have bugged me. When people want to talk and I don’t want to listen, I just walk away. Now someone shouting and cussing would have bugged me…a lot. In fact, although I’m not at all a prude, I stopped listening, dealing or otherwise engaging someone who swears—and it has nothing to do with any moral judgment but it is almost always used inappropriately, disrespectfully or unintelligently.

    • LadyV April 19, 2016, 4:03 pm

      But the original victim – the sandwich maker – didn’t have the option of walking away. It appears that he was the only one working the counter. It’s also likely he was a younger person, who might not yet have developed the titanium spine to tell the customer to stop harassing him. While I’m not a huge fan of swearing in public either, the creepy guy had already been asked TWICE to stop, and kept on going – so the OP might have felt that swearing was her last resort.

      • Denise April 20, 2016, 11:41 am

        The employee could have phoned a superior. Asked the man to leave or called the police when he didn’t.

        • Lerah99 April 21, 2016, 8:50 am

          @Denise, that’s a lot of Monday Morning Quarterbacking.
          Expecting a high school kid working at a sandwich shop to calmly think “I’ll call my supervisor” or “I’ll tell this man to leave or I’ll call the cops” is expecting a little much.

          Especially since most of these places stress “The customer is always right”, “Only the manager can ask someone to leave”, “If you are the only person working, you can’t leave the front counter for any reason.” etc…

          Add the stress of having this creeper say disgusting but not illegal things, and it’s very easy for a high school kid to freeze up.

          • Library Diva April 21, 2016, 3:28 pm

            A lot of managers don’t have their employees’ backs, either, especially in the service industry. It’s not their MO to empower employees. They want people who won’t question policy.

          • Denise April 21, 2016, 7:54 pm

            Either “the kid” was left alone to handle the store or there was a manger or supervisor present.

            If the employee was left alone to manager the store, I have little doubt that they are trained in what to do in dangerous/annoying situations.

            And, the rule that the customer is always right refers to all customers. If the other customers were offended, they were also right.

            The manager compensated the op for her experience. Which indicates he agrees she was in a negative experience. It would be easy to argue that he would have supported his employee handling the situation and having fewer customers experiencing a negative experience in his shop.

  • Cleosia April 19, 2016, 8:09 am

    I get the impression that nothing short of drastic measures was going to dissuade this individual from tormenting the sandwich maker. He was obviously enjoying the guy’s discomfort and since the guy couldn’t just walk away, he had a helpless victim who wasn’t allowed to stop him.

  • SoISaid April 19, 2016, 8:14 am

    I went one time to a young mothers club meeting in a church basement (I didn’t attend). There was a doctor making a presentation about how babies sleep at night (or don’t 🙂 He couldn’t get through the talk without using the f-bomb every other word. It got very embarrassing for us –and him. He would stop, apologize and try to take up his train of thought again. He was flustered and bright red and couldn’t get back on topic. I never could go see him or ever give him a reference to anyone. Was he good at his job? I don’t know. But a man who can’t curtail his language in a room of moms and children and couldn’t have a coherent thought without unnecessary swear words doesn’t rank high on my list.

    • Kate April 20, 2016, 10:32 am

      I agree with you about that situation, but this was a completely different situation.

    • Snarkastic April 25, 2016, 5:08 pm

      I’m confused: was he absentmindedly swearing or was he flustered bc of Tourette’s?

  • MrsSML April 19, 2016, 8:31 am

    While I applaud OP’s ability to stand up for herself, I agree that it’s unfortunate that people seem to think that swearing will get “better” results. I worked in corporate telecom sales for years and so many people had this same mindset. I had one business owner email me out of nowhere and drop f bombs all over the place over a surprise billing issue. I replied that, while I was working on his issue, he would lose me as his personal rep and have to call customer service on his own in the future if he continued to use language like that. His reply? I never did anything to help unless he swore at me. My reply? I attached every single email he’d ever sent me and asked when he’d ever reported an issue to me and when I’d failed to fix it immediately.

  • Anna April 19, 2016, 8:43 am

    This was harassment and possibly even a safety issue. The OP did whatever it took to keep the environment safe. Who cares if she swore? Good for her!

  • Linda April 19, 2016, 8:52 am

    I’m having a problem wrapping my mind around what could possibly be so vulgar and offensive about spiders that it would have anyone in such a tizzy. The problem wasn’t the OP’s to deal with in the beginning. It was the clerk’s. If the clerk had wanted the man to leave, he could have asked him to at any time and called the police to have him removed if he refused. I think the OP was rude to butt in to the exchange at all.

    • admin April 19, 2016, 1:03 pm

      The sex habits of spiders? Those little jumping spiders are pretty darn cute (https://noviceartist.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/cute-jumping-spider-640×4001.jpg).

    • OP April 19, 2016, 1:20 pm

      Let’s just say that the internet’s Rule 34 of the internet applied. It’s available via Google for anyone who wants to find out what it is.

      • LadyV April 19, 2016, 4:08 pm

        Oh. My. God. Who would ever think there was such a thing as spider porn?

      • Cerys April 20, 2016, 7:08 am

        Yeah, I thought it might be that kind of thing. Delightful.

    • Mary April 19, 2016, 1:43 pm

      Based on the OP’s description, I have a feeling it involved spiders living in or laying eggs in certain areas of the human body. She said it was very disgusting and offensive and this was the only thing I could come up with.

    • Ergala April 19, 2016, 2:28 pm

      Not exactly. I’ve worked in retail and food service and we were always informed we could NOT ask anyone to leave. It was up to the manager. And half the time the manager was locked in their office and couldn’t be bothered to come out. If we said boo to a customer who was out of line and the customer complained about our “rudeness” we were written up or fired.

      • Kim April 20, 2016, 9:26 am

        Agreed. Another customer can confront a badly behaved customer, but a customer’s offenses would have to be extremely egregious and/or directed toward another customer in order for an employee to step in. (I said customer a lot there didn’t I?)

      • ~Dessa~ April 20, 2016, 11:24 am

        I was written up for refusing to open the register and give a woman money that she claimed was her change. She had no receipt, I had not waited on her recently, and later examination revealed that she hadn’t even been in the store. I still had to take the write up, so I quit.

        • Cass April 21, 2016, 11:29 pm

          I had to take a writeup once from the youngest shift leader (I mention that because it was mentioned that he was insecure about his age and overcompensated by being a hardass relatively frequently; now I wonder why no one demoted him) because there was a rush at my restaurant before I was officially on shift and when he asked me if I could come on a few minutes early I said no. The reason I said no was I was literally changing into my uniform and didn’t have pants on, but didn’t feel like shouting that for everyone on staff to hear, so he wrote me up. And when I explained it to the manager he agreed it was bs but said he was going to let the writeup stand.

          20 years later, I wouldn’t put up with that, but at the time I was 19 and not very experienced with the world of work.

    • Kate April 20, 2016, 10:35 am

      I agree with Ergala. At the store I worked at, we had specifically been told that we could not call the police not matter what. At one point in the past, a department manager told me. A couple of guys backed a moving truck up to the entrance and started piling stuff in. When they were satisfied they drove off. Even after that corporate continued the “no cops” policy they had before the incident.

  • CW April 19, 2016, 9:09 am

    I think there may have been an overreaction on OP’s part. I don’t know what could be so offensive about spiders that would warrant yelling at a stranger. I may have started out with, “That’s a fairly gross topic, I’d appreciate you not talking abut it, especially as I’m about to eat.” By starting off yelling, you escalated an otherwise calm situation. And though you have every right to curse where you see fit, no one else has to appreciate it.

    • OP April 19, 2016, 1:20 pm

      It wasn’t really about spiders, but a subject that, while involving them, was not a topic for public conversation.

      • CW April 19, 2016, 3:16 pm

        “He was going on and on with increasingly offensive and disgusting topics that seemed to center around spiders.”

        Maybe you should have used another description. Some people seem to be reading it the same way I have.

        • Orange Sherbert June 2, 2016, 9:16 pm

          You seem to be making quite light of the “increasingly offensive and disgusting topics” almost as if you are deliberately misreading or even ignoring it.

          He set out to disgust and offend, he would not stop, twice, the two ‘offended’ women declined to help out with repeating that no means no, and the officer only became involved when she finally showed how utterly disgusted she was with the disgusting and offending creep, how fortunate you are in this day and age that you can seem so accepting of his awful actions.

  • Vermin8 April 19, 2016, 9:20 am

    “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? ”
    Yes – as shown by the fact that the 2 women talked to her about her language but did not say anything to the guy discussing the gross topic.
    And worse – the cop did not intervene until she started swearing.
    And that is the sad thing about this story – not that she swore but that no one helped her before that.

    • Ellex April 21, 2016, 6:30 pm

      Yup yup.

      Polite doesn’t always get the needed results unfortunately.

  • CJ Carville April 19, 2016, 9:52 am

    I am a woman. For most of my life, including childhood, I was never taken seriously until I started yelling and/or swearing. I was raised to be “nice,” always polite, and accommodating — all behaviors that got me bullied and taken advantage of for over a decade.

    It wasn’t until high school that I learned raising my voice and causing a scene convinced my bullies to leave me alone. As an adult, quietly telling a street harasser or random stranger to leave me alone never got me the result I wanted. Yelling, “Get the [bleep] away from me right now,” always did.

    If people would respect boundaries and cease behaviors when asked, then you’d see less of this. I don’t want to start out acting that way, but I, like this woman, am pushed to do so. And if people think I’m rude because that’s the only option I have to get rid of harassment, I’ll risk it because I’m not the root cause of this interaction.

    Until you can fix gendered thinking, desperate times call for desperate measures.

    • CW April 19, 2016, 1:08 pm

      But this woman wasn’t pushed to do so. She chose to shout at the “creep”. She could have asked the employee to get a manager to ask this man to leave. If somene is going to initiate a stranger by shouting at them , they should not be surprised if that person gets aggressive.

      • Lerah99 April 20, 2016, 8:48 am

        No, sometimes the only way to deal with creepers is loud aggression.

        They will continue until you raise a scene so all eyes are on them.
        Then, about half the time, they will act like you over reacted and are crazy.

        Welcome to being a woman in our society.

        Some guy talking to you about spider porn and refusing to stop when you’ve straight up told him to knock it off? This is a guy who gets off on watching other people squirm. The only way to stop him, is to make a huge stink about it.

        And, you know in doing so, that you will be open to criticism for not being “nice” enough when you made a scene.

        It’s revolting that our society is still like this, but that’s how it rolls.

        As a woman, you are expected to be nice, never raise your voice, ask an authority figure for help.
        But if something bad should happen to you, suddenly it’s all “Why didn’t you scream? Why didn’t you fight? Why did you expect someone else to save you?”

        Considering we’re going to be criticized either way, might as well go for the yelling and cursing to stop this creep.

        • CW April 20, 2016, 6:10 pm

          Well, I AM a woman in this society and I’ve dealt with my fair share of creepy individuals and I don’t recall any significant instances where I had no other option than to shout and pull out pepper spray.

          • Snarkastic April 25, 2016, 5:13 pm

            Well, if it has never happened to you, then I guess the problem doesn’t exist…

            This man is clearly a sick person. I didn’t think OP shouted, but if she did, I wouldn’t blame her.

        • CW April 20, 2016, 6:13 pm

          I’m by no means saying that women aren’t targets, I’m simply pointing out that there could be options other than what the OP chose to do.

          • Jazzgirl205 April 22, 2016, 8:19 am

            The secret is confidence. Too many women act frightened around these types of bullies. I swear so seldom that friends get scared when I use the word “damn.” I dress very feminine and have a soft Southern accent. Whenever I have been accosted like this, I speak low and deliberately maintaining eye contact with a penetrating stare that says “I will rip your throat out.” Shouting and over-reacting says, “I’m frightened of you” which is exactly what they want.

      • Spuck April 20, 2016, 9:50 am

        I feel like if there was strong management in this food place, the counter workers never have been held captive by the creep in the name of customer service.

    • Anna Wood April 19, 2016, 7:55 pm

      I agree TOTALLY

  • Denise April 19, 2016, 10:15 am

    I’m not sure how it even got to the point where you felt a need to shout or swear at the guy.

    The employee should have handled the situation before you got to the counter. The employee could have taken steps to remove the “creep” from trespassing and harassing customers.

    The employees inability to do so does not mean that you need to be the savior.

    He had an inappropriate conversation with you. You could have left, complained to the employee who could have asked him to leave, you could have ignored his attempts to rile you up. Instead you took out pepper spray and screamed obscenities at him. If I had just walked into the sandwich shop, I would have assumed you were the aggressor.

    • Ulla April 20, 2016, 3:30 am

      I’m sorry, but I think your viewpoint is very cruel. It was clear from the story that the employee didn’t have the tools to deal with the situation, either mental or “physical” and with that I mean that the company may forbid employee to do anything to customers, even if they harass them.

      Moreover, isn’t it duty for every decent human being to help others when they are harassed, if you can do so without putting yourself in danger? Being employee of a store does not mean you magically gain ability to easily deal with any creep, and if OP was more capable then it was her call to be the decent human being and help someone who was not able to help themselves.

      • Lerah99 April 20, 2016, 9:05 am


        I wish I had a like button for your comment. I agree with you 100%

      • GeenaG April 20, 2016, 10:07 am

        I couldn’t agree more. I wonder if Denise would feel the same if she was in an awkward position she couldn’t control, and people just watched while making no effort to help. IMHO it’s a nasty attitude to go through life with.

      • Dippy April 20, 2016, 10:23 am


      • Denise April 20, 2016, 11:44 am

        How exactly is it cruel?

        A man was having an inappropriate conversation. The employee could have handled it a number of ways. There was absolutely no need for her to yell obscenities at the man in a public sandwich shop.

    • Kate April 20, 2016, 10:40 am

      Denise, please see my reply to Linda above. In every store I have ever worked in, the customer is always right, or you get fired.

      • Denise April 20, 2016, 8:23 pm

        I worked retail and retail management for several years for multiple companies. While the customer was always right, we were never encouraged or allowed to have an environment where other customers felt harassed, extremely uncomfortable or offended. We were always trained extensively on what your options are, be it call a supervisor, call mall or center security or call the non-emergency department.

        While I was never in a position where the awkwardness was uncomfortable because of a sexual nature, I was an employee in situations as described. And I resolved them. Without any customers having to yell and curse at the offender.

        • Kate April 21, 2016, 10:24 am

          You have been very fortunate then. I wish I had been so lucky! However every other commenter with retail experience agrees with my experience, as far as I have read. Your experience is your truth, but all of our experiences agree that yours was very, very rare.

          • Just4Kicks June 5, 2016, 6:28 am

            @Kate: You are absolutely correct in that when you work retail (I did for many years) if the customer, they are to be catered to.
            I’ve been cursed at, threatened, sexually harassed (that was by four Latino men who were saying in Spanish what they’d “do to me”, and mentioned I seemed to be the only one at the store. I answered them, in fluent Spanish, that my husband was picking me up in five minutes.
            They were shocked I understood every disgusting word, and beat the hell out of there), called a bleeping retard….you name it.
            I sympathise with you completely.

  • AMC April 19, 2016, 10:15 am

    Slightly off-topic, but this story reminds me of an interaction I had a few weeks ago. I was going in for my annual gyn exam, and a couple (man and woman) walk in behind me. As I sit down to fill out some paperwork, the man immediately starts engaging me in conversation. This was a little awkward, but I’m a pretty approachable person, so I nodded and responded to him in between updating my address and health history.
    The conversation started off innocently enough, about the weather, but then it quickly veered into T.M.I. territory. He started telling me, in great detail, all about his appendicitis and subsequent surgery. I tried to deflect, to change the subject, to act distracted and disinterested. He would not take the hint. And then it happened… He said, “Wanna see the scar??” And he promptly lifted his shirt.
    What do you even do in a situation like that? I smiled and went back to my paperwork. I was so thankful when the nurse finally called me back. As I walked to the exam room, I heard him begin to regale the nurse at the front desk with the exact same story. Poor dear…

  • Dee April 19, 2016, 10:33 am

    The problem with using swearing to try to get some respect is that it has the opposite effect. Once OP started swearing to Creepy Guy she immediately put herself on his level, as someone who is making others uncomfortable. Creepy Guy knew that and whatever respect he might have had for OP went out the window. The other people around OP also lost respect for her, despite the fact they were probably willing to back her up at the beginning. Swearing just diminishes the respect. It shocks, yes, it gets attention, but after that everything goes downhill.

    A teacher once told me that she counseled her elementary school kids that swearing is the lowest kind of language use; people who are very handicapped and non-verbal often can still swear, as it requires no intelligence or thought of any kind to say those words. If you want to prove that you can use words that are the very bottom of language, that display a complete lack of thought or reason, then swear. But if you want to be taken seriously and be respected then use words that show that you are capable of thinking. I think that’s sound advice for anyone, adults included.

    • Kat April 20, 2016, 1:30 am

      If Creepy Guy did have any respect for her to begin with, he would have stopped the first time she asked him to.

      Actually, since the OP made it clear that his topic was sexually explicit, if he had respect for anyone he wouldn’t have been talking like that in public, to strangers, to begin with.

      You can’t win respect from someone like that. There’s no point in trying; and as far as I’m concerned safety takes higher priority in any case.

      • Dee April 20, 2016, 12:16 pm

        I would have lost respect for the OP with her yelling and swearing and that would have cautioned me to not intervene unless absolutely necessary. I won’t jump in to assist someone who is making me question whether they are the victim or a perpetrator, and that hesitation could be costly to the person needing assistance. It is to the victim’s benefit to not lose the respect of those around him/her. A person swearing while yelling does not necessarily indicate that they are in a crisis situation; it does, however, hint that they may be unstable. It is not necessary to swear to get positive attention but it will absolutely gain negative attention. We teach our children what to yell (no swearing!) to get the attention and assistance of adults because anything else could be ineffective but we disregard that advice for ourselves at our own peril.

    • Ulla April 20, 2016, 3:38 am

      The Creep didn’t have any respect for any of the people in the shop to begin with. If he did have, he would have kept his mouth shut. And if you lose respect for person who is trying to defend person who is being harassed while you (general you) stand idle, because the defending person curses, welp, there isn’t much I can say to that.

    • Stephanie April 20, 2016, 4:19 am

      I for one would happily sacrifice the “respect” of a couple of random strangers who did nothing to help me while I was being harassed right in front of them, in exchange for getting Creepy Guy out of my face as expediently as possible. I applaud OP for putting her foot down.

      And I can’t imagine why anyone on this earth would care whether or not Creepy Guy respected them. Like, “oh no, this obnoxious person that I don’t want to be around thinks I’m crude, what have I done!”

    • Jolie April 20, 2016, 6:42 am

      Really? Did you need to use “very handicapped and nonverbal people” to prove your point bere?

      Also, if you are nonverbal, it doesn’t mean a complete lack of thought or reason. It means you are nonverbal. Nonverbal individuals often use other methods of communication, including ASL, computers/etc. That’s sort of a ridiculous comparison and generally using these people groups to demonstrate “the lowest form of language” as if they are somehow the lowest form of human. It may not have been how you intended your comment, but it sure as heck comes off that way.

      And yes, sometimes you will hear people with disabilities use swear words. Often because they are trying to communicate and express themselves and they have heard it repeated as the strongest language used by other people. But these folks can also use and repeat other languages as well, so your comparison and argument just generally lacked a solid base.

      • Dee April 20, 2016, 12:31 pm

        Jolie – I didn’t say people who are non-verbal lack thought or reason. You’re the one making that leap. I didn’t say that people who use the lowest forms of language are the lowest form of human. That’s your leap, again. There are many reasons why the disabled may use swearing to get attention, and one of them may be due to a lack of thought and reason, same as when so-called “intelligent” people swear. But if you have the ability to think and to learn then you can decide for yourself whether you want to be known as someone who can think and reason or as someone who cannot. I give a pass to those who cannot; I shake my head in dismay at those who can but choose not to. But children are well-advised as to how their poor language may give others the false (and damaging) impression that it is a lack of thought or reason behind such behaviour.

        • Jolie April 20, 2016, 9:21 pm

          Actually, no. I didn’t just “make that leap”. You made a comparison to swearing being the “lowest form of language” and then used people with disabilities as an example of people who regularly use it. You drew a direct correlation between these two things and made the over-arching assumptions and connected the dots. If it’s the same, then why make that comparison at all? Why not just say “people use it without thought or reason.” It was a poor argument and a poor choice of words. Plain and simple.

          I suggest you read up on some information about people with disabilities, and educate yourself a little better on what these terms mean and how cognitive or other disabilities affect people differently. Often “disabled people” as you call them are very intelligent. I also suggest you find some information on cognitive development in children before jumping to all these conclusions about their abilities and who is advised of what as well.

          • Dee April 20, 2016, 11:54 pm

            Um, no, I did not say that people with disabilities regularly use swear words. But you will hear what you want to hear, not what I actually said, apparently.

            I am very familiar with living with people with disabilities. I would suggest that most people are, as virtually every family is affected by some sort of disorders and disabilities. And I am very familiar with the fact that many very handicapped people are not capable of reason or deep thought, much as the truth of that might offend you. Better to understand and celebrate what a person can do (focussing on the positive) rather than pretend they are highly capable when they are not.

            And the teacher who told me her piece of advice regarding swearing taught special needs students and is a parent of one. I do take her advice seriously as she has more than enough experience in the area of disabilities and challenges. As do I. There is nothing like living it to give one the best perspective.

          • Jolie April 21, 2016, 11:08 am


            “…people who are very handicapped and non-verbal often can still swear, as it requires no intelligence or thought of any kind to say those words.” I am quoting this to you because this sentence directly correlates people who have handicaps and experience being non-verbal with a lack of intelligence and thought.

            I also never said that all people with severe disabilities were all capable of reason or deep thought, but I did suggest that your willingness to put all people with severe disabilities into that category or even most is misguided. The spectrum of disability is extremely large and by pigeonholing that behavior into an automatic response of lack of intelligence is an assumption, and we all know what assumptions do. Furthermore, to assume someone who is non-verbal and perhaps experiences outbursts including swearing is automatically incapable of deep thought or reason is a poor choice. The truth does not offend me in the slightest. I work directly with people with special needs on a daily basis, many who are nonverbal and who would swear. I have two children with verbal challenges and my son DOES experience outbursts, sometimes including swearing, but he is also able to communicate and communicate well via alternative methods as well. You just didn’t state the truth, you made assumptions, potentially furthering stigma and relegating people who may face challenges into a category of inability rather than ability. For someone who purports to focus on the positive, this isn’t a particularly positive place to be.

            For years and years anyone with any level of functioning that appeared different or out of a supposed norm were institutionalized and locked away, because they weren’t believed to have ANY abilities. We now know differently. Also, many of us who live and work in the disability community often disagree. I am not under some kind of poor or delusional impression of what anyone with a disability is doing, I am saying that your choice of comparison is poor, and you risk stigmatizing and reducing those who experience these things to a certain understanding. Your argument would have been far stronger etiquette wise without it.

          • Lisa April 21, 2016, 12:36 pm

            Agree with Jolie 100% here.

      • AppleEye April 20, 2016, 2:00 pm

        Agree 100% Jolie!

  • JD April 19, 2016, 10:41 am

    I have to agree with admin on the right way to handle such a creep. Start low key and work up, don’t begin with shouting. I personally never swear in a situation like that. It’s just not going to happen. I might swear at home, at a friend’s home if no kids are around, even very quietly at work, but when I’m speaking with others in public, no. I don’t like to hear swearing out in public like that, and so I’m not going to use the same words myself.
    However, the guy was definitely out of line, and I think it was fine to let him know he was being very offensive, repeating if necessary. I just think it would have been better to have done it a little differently.

  • lakey April 19, 2016, 10:43 am

    This is why I try to avoid confronting people in public about their bad behavior. I tend to get upset and say things I probably shouldn’t. It isn’t that I get into a large amount of swearing, it is more sarcasm and snottiness. I know I will get upset, and that only makes the situation worse. If you watch shows like “Cops”, the police have ways of talking to people similar to what Administrator described. Ideally, they speak in a firm, low key, unemotional way.

    That being said, if I had been in the sandwich shop, I probably would have thanked the OP. Those kinds of stories don’t belong in a restaurant where other people are getting their food. One option for the employee is to, if possible, let the manager handle it. The guy with the spider stories could have driven away customers.

  • padua April 19, 2016, 10:48 am

    i agree with admin. OP, unless you have something to add to the story, i don’t think his behavior warranted the reaction you had. in fact, if i was a bystander, i’d more likely be offended by the swearing than i would be by someone who appears to lack social cues and who’s talking about spiders.

    please enlighten us if there is more to the story.

    • Airelenaren April 19, 2016, 1:08 pm

      My thoughts exactly.
      I wonder if “spiders” are perhaps a replacement word for something much more inappropriate, but even then, starting the confrontation by shouting, and then pulling out a weapon (yes, pepper spray is a weapon as far as I’m concerned), seems far more likely to escalate the situation than anything.

      • Kheldarson April 19, 2016, 2:42 pm

        OP indicated up thread that Rule 34 was invoked. (That being that if it’s on the Internet, there’s porn.) So I’m going with the creepy guy has a particular fetish that he likes to share.

        If so, one can understand why she’d want him to stop.

        • Aletheia April 20, 2016, 1:21 pm

          “So I’m going with the creepy guy has a particular fetish that he likes to share.”

          ….oh. God. That puts the whole “trap the helpless worker into listening” aspect in an even more disturbing light.

  • Kat April 19, 2016, 12:32 pm

    I disagree (provisionally) because the fact that she was reaching for her pepper spray makes me think that whatever he was saying about spiders, it wasn’t just disgusting, it was threatening. (If he didn’t make the OP feel threatened, then pepper spray and the rest of her response were an over-reaction.)

    I have attended self-defense classes which taught verbal defense as a first line of defense against threatening individuals. Yes, this includes swearing, and the instructor was explicit about that. If someone is sociopathic enough to threaten your safety, a polite request to stop is going to be lost on them. Hearing swear words — especially from a woman, even these days — may shock enough to get them to back off; which is preferable to a physical fight if it works.

    I have had to employ verbal defense — yes, including swearing — to protect myself against a man twice my size (and I’m not a small woman) who came up behind me on a train platform and began yelling in rage and advancing on me. It worked; he backed off. I have no regrets. Although I remain annoyed that none of the six witnesses responded in any way — but this also illustrates why doing whatever it takes to protect yourself is not just okay, but necessary.

    When in imminent danger, rules of politeness take a back seat to safety. And OP is right — harassment is never okay.

    • JS April 19, 2016, 4:07 pm

      I completely agree with this – I understand admin’s position about escalating your response more gradually, and agree that that would be appropriate when dealing with a rational person. But given OP’s post (the Rule 34 spiders, her willingness to take out her mace, the fact that the cop escorted the man out, who then LOITERED OUTSIDE), it’s unlikely that OP was dealing with a rational actor who would respond to firm but polite requests. Further, it’s completely reasonable that OP was concerned for her safety. Under those circumstances, attempting to shock the man into backing down with volume and profanity was entirely appropriate.

      Etiquette is about ensuring that social interactions proceed as comfortably as possible for everyone involved. In certain circumstances, that goal must be discarded to preserve public safety. I think this was one of those times.

    • Stephanie April 20, 2016, 4:22 am

      Agreed. Safety first.

  • stacey April 19, 2016, 1:18 pm

    The idea that an employee cannot walk away under any circumstances is wrong. Ignoring someone can go a long way. A manager is a good resource. Call the police. *Welfare check… is Mr. Strange off his meds. Pepper spray and profanity might feel like a safer bet, but both in terms of etiquette and law, you cannot respond to obscene or vulgar speech with violence. Becoming entangled in the circumstances is unnecessary and possibly dangerous. Summon assistance.

    • Kate April 20, 2016, 10:44 am

      It is very wrong. Unfortunately if you did the things you suggested, you would have been fired in every store I have ever worked in. Please see my response to Linda above.

      • stacey April 21, 2016, 12:11 am

        My own experience is at variance with yours. In person (hotel concierge, retail, restaurant) and by phone or computer (insurance, utilities such as electric and telcom), there are policies that vary but are designed to handle many issues. Getting the script to fit the policy is sometimes a matter of skill and experience. And the culture does vary from one organization to another. But nothing is gained by either escalating or by passivity. Agreed, the process is nuanced. But here’s where your relationship to coworkers, supervisors and your overall record lend support/ credence to your exercise of judgement in this type of situation. I’ve been told I’d be sued, that a client was going to plant a bomb, that I lacked intelligence or skill/ knowledge or physical beauty (by phone no less!). Customers can be outrageous, both for how kind they can be as well as how awful they can be. None of which negates my thoughts as expressed above…. but you are right that YMMV.

  • AppleEye April 19, 2016, 2:16 pm

    I think admin is right that this probably escalated more quickly than it needed to. I would also like to point out that based on this man’s behavior, it seems very likely that he has some forms of mental illness (and before everyone jumps down my throat, I am not saying that makes his behavior ok, because it doesn’t, and OP had every right to defend herself). But escalating a situation with an unstable person is rarely a good idea.

    The woman who commented probably saw, based on your reaction, not an incident of harassment being perpetrated against you, but an altercation between the two of you. Because at the point she came in and observed, that’s what it was.

  • Mizz Etiquette April 19, 2016, 3:08 pm

    From the way the story is written, it sounds as if the OP really enjoyed laying into this man.

    How difficult would it have been to say, “You’re making me uncomfortable with that topic. Please stop.” Obviously, the man was enjoying making others uncomfortable. However, there was no need to shout. It appear obvious the sandwich maker was alone and appeared young and frightened (hence not telling the rude guy to stop for fear of losing his job).

    Luckily, the cop showed up so I’m just amazed that OP felt the need to shout. It’s almost as if she’s proud of the fact she can. While the rude man was weird, the OP seems a bit off as well.

    Anyone want to bet she went running to Facebook with her tale of, “I told him off!” Sheesh…

    And to comment on Admin’s response of possibly filming the man…why?

    • Rebecca April 20, 2016, 1:12 am

      “How difficult would it have been to say, “You’re making me uncomfortable with that topic. Please stop.”

      Not difficult, but ineffective. The man enjoyed making people uncomfortable and he had already demonstrated he held no regard for requests to stop.

    • Stephanie April 20, 2016, 4:25 am

      I’d be proud if I had the guts to shout down a creeper like that. Women are typically socialized to be sweet and gentle and to always give ground in the face of potential conflict. That includes me, and I would find it very difficult to overcome the urge to “smile and nod” in a situation like that. I think OP is awesome for being able to stand up for her right and the employee’s right not to be subjected to harassment.

  • Becca April 19, 2016, 3:45 pm

    I’ve been around indecent disgusting creeps like this guy before and the best way to handle them is to not respond. You didn’t frighten him away by any means since he was lurking outside and you needed an escort to your car, that made the situation so much worse if a police officer hadn’t came around at the right time.

    I don’t have any problem with swearing, however shouting and making a scene over an gross conversational topic is what this guy was itching for.

    As a woman who was raised around a pack of barely housebroken men, they want a reaction. Rolling your eyes at them and going about your business makes them lose interest.

    I feel bad for the sandwich maker because they can’t usually completely ignore a customer or say anything remotely harsh, however their manager should have stepped up and thrown the guy out for being inappropriate in a private business establishment. It’s odd that the manager couldn’t handle the situation but instead gave a large giftcard to someone who caused a huge scene in the shop.

    • Ulla April 20, 2016, 3:50 am

      My experiences are different. I feel that usually creeps want to push you. They want to make you uncomfortable, relying on the fact that especially women are trained not to make any fuss. The relish on you suffering internally while trying to keep your cool. This is what they get off. It’s exerting power over you, making you small. Showing that there is nothing you can do, nothing you will do because you follow the rules of society and because of that they can get away with everything. Nobody will stand against them, they can continue pushing and pushing as long they want. Making the meek and the weak feeling uncomfortable and unsafe.

      And this comment thread is great example how society actually sides with the creeps who get their pleasure tormenting others! Society says “just suffer, don’t stand for yourself, don’t make scene, don’t defend yourself. Your feelings, your uncomfortableness and unsafeness do not matter, but good heavens if you stand out and make a scene, out the creep and act, you are going to be dog piled on. We don’t want to see that scene, that makes us uncomfortable. Just be silent and take it like a woman, we’d rather see the creep harassing you than you defending yourself.”


      • Yet Another Laura April 20, 2016, 9:53 am

        Your experiences are my experiences. I have long ago reached the point of not caring what people think of me. I have needed to make scenes to make harassers stop and nothing less would do. I did start with the polite and icy “Yes I do mind” and “Please stop.”

        In every instance, I succeeded in getting the creep to stop, but my friends who were witnesses to the harassing behaviors defended the creeps. Every time. Each time I read the riot act to my friends. Most of them have rethought who and what they were defending.

        Congratulations to the original poster and to all who stand up for themselves in the face of people who don’t back off the first time.

      • Marion April 20, 2016, 11:15 am

        I found it interesting that the cop* [who witnessed at least some of the exchange], and the manager who “found out” [presumably later from the employee] both deemed the man to be at fault, whereas the bystander reprimanded the woman…

        * If he thought the OP was the problem, he wouldn’t have carted off the man and escorted the OP to her car later.

      • LizaJane April 20, 2016, 1:54 pm

        This. Absolutely this.

  • Tmi April 19, 2016, 4:48 pm

    Since I wasn’t there I can’t say if it escalated to fast or not. But the OP states the guy pushed the issue, after he said sorry then when right back into it. Also for those of us who work retail, no you cannot always walk away from a customer without getting in trouble, or walking away just escalates the situation.

  • Ashley April 19, 2016, 5:42 pm

    I’m curious why the manager couldn’t have been called to handle it? Was there really not ANY moment where the employee could have gestured to get the manager up there to tell the guy “You are harassing my employees and need to leave?”

    • Just4Kicks April 20, 2016, 5:35 am

      I was thinking that as well, where the heck was the manager while all this was going on?
      If nothing else, the manager coming to the front could’ve let the sandwich maker to “escape” to help another customer.

      • Ashley April 20, 2016, 1:10 pm

        Wherever I’ve worked, we’ve always had some sort of “code” to handle situations like this.

        When I worked retail, we had headsets and snuck a code word into the conversation with the customer while holding the talk button down on the headset.

        When I worked at a sandwich shop, you’d pretend something weird was wrong with the register and yell for help.

        When I worked at a gas station, there was almost always a police car parked in our lot, not because we were getting robbed anything, but because the cops just really liked our coffee, so nothing ever really went off but when it did I could catch the cops attention and he’d handle it.

        Where I work now, I instant message one of our stores and say something to the effect of “call me and pretend you’re a customer”.

        It is important to have stuff like that in place and it actually worries me a bit that in this situation there was nothing that seemed to be being done by the manager.

        • Just4Kicks April 21, 2016, 2:45 am

          When I worked at a big box retail store, if we were having trouble and needed a manager, we supposed to get on the walkie and ask if someone could please bring me one of the “blue carts” to my location asap.
          The blue carts were a manager and a security guard, worked like a charm.

    • Yet Another Laura April 20, 2016, 9:55 am

      I’ve worked fast food, and the managers would often hide in the office. When I worked tech support, we were told we were not allowed to get supervisors to take over when callers became abusive. It happens a lot more frequently than people realize.

      • Kate April 21, 2016, 10:30 am

        Agreed. We were told we were not allowed to call the police in any situation whatsoever. And that includes when thieves drive a truck up to the store and start emptying it out! Which actually happened.

  • Adelaide April 19, 2016, 5:45 pm

    In my Krav Maga class we call people who start yelling, grabbing pepper spray, and talking about how well they can fight while referencing situations that don’t call for it “Yellow Belt Gangstas”. OP doesn’t get any points from me or the admin, apparently, for immediately shouting at this guy and assuming she would have to fight him. I could tune out some creep talking about gross stuff in the time it took me to get a sandwich, and frankly OP’s shouting and swearing would irritate me more than whatever he was saying.

    • Kate April 20, 2016, 10:55 am

      He was holding the sandwich maker hostage (as an employee he couldn’t walk away from a “customer”) and harassing the poor man. And apparently doing it in a public place with a sexually explicit topic involving spiders.

      I couldn’t stand by and watch someone be forced to suffer that while I ate my sandwich. And in case you think the employee should have thrown the creep out, please see my reply to Linda above.

      • Adelaide April 20, 2016, 7:05 pm

        You’re missing my point, and the point of a lot of other people. The point is that you are the one who inappropriately escalated the situation. You brought from speaking to shouting without trying anything in between. You were the one talking about clutching your pepper spray and how you can hold your own in a fight, when all that guy was doing originally was talking about something that was probably disgusting to an employee of the store.

        • JS April 21, 2016, 8:17 am

          Completely disagree. This creep was talking about spider porn. He wasn’t stopping when asked to by the employee. The situation is already escalated at this point and will not be resolved by quiet yet firm politeness. I know this because this creep then refuses to stop talking to OP about spider porn even after she raises her voice, even after she uses obscenities to try to get him to back down, and he had to be escorted out by the cop, whereupon he then loitered outside the store.

          I think OP did exactly the right thing, and commend her for sticking up for the employee and herself.

          • Yet Another Laura April 21, 2016, 4:44 pm

            I too commend the original poster. Good deeds are not negated by R-rated language.

            I think I might have to quote South Park: Deplorable violence is OK just so long as nobody uses any dirty words.

          • Adelaide April 21, 2016, 6:47 pm

            I don’t think that you can retroactively justify her behavior. The whole point of etiquette in situations like these is to have a series of steps to go through to communicate with other people. As for the employee, I believe even the OP has pointed out that he was neutral at the strongest-in the interest of keeping his job, he was probably going with an “appease the customer” approach. In this case, OP should have said something to the man directly, then perhaps gotten the attention of the police officer if the spider discussion was that bad. The only reason the Spiderman was escorted out in the first place is because it was OP who was making a dramatic scene. We’ll never know if “Please be quiet, that’s disgusting” or “Officer, could you please remove this man?” would have worked, or if he was just kicked out because she made a spectacle. I honestly think that this is a case of everyone trying to justify two wrongs to make a right because Spider Guy seems like a total creep.

          • JS April 27, 2016, 3:37 pm

            OP did say something to the creep directly, and it didn’t work. Further, the cop didn’t come in right away, and the OP didn’t immediately notice that he was there when he did come in.

            I’m having a lot of trouble seeing why a raised voice, in response to someone who will not stop talking about spider porn in public despite being asked to stop by the employee, is a “wrong.” I see it as an appropriate response. I also think that OP had a better read of the situation because she was in the store, and her “read” is absolutely justified by the creep’s reaction to (1) the employee’s request that he not stop talking, (2) OP’s louder request that he stop talking, (3) OP’s use of profanity to shock him into backing down, and (4) the cop escorting him out of the store.

            What’s most interesting is that the preconception that people, and women in particular, are “wrong” for raising their voice is EXACTLY what creeps like this guy exploit.

  • barb April 19, 2016, 5:58 pm

    Gotta believe, that if everything else didn’t work, saying “PLEASE STOP TALKING TO ME” in your loudest possible, non yelling voice, would have gotten the cops’ attention.

    • JS April 21, 2016, 8:18 am

      She tried that. Didn’t work.

      • Wendy April 22, 2016, 12:12 pm

        People seem to be forgetting some things the op said, the first thing she did was say stop no one wants to hear Spiderman continues she yells he still continues so she resorts to swearing there was a clear series of steps here

  • Jo April 19, 2016, 6:39 pm

    She did tell him to stop without swearing and he went right back to it. I think I know exactly what the creep was talking about (rule 34 being a HUGE hint). Creeper had a captive audience, literally. Forcing someone to listen to your sick fantasies, which given the parameters of rule 34 could have included anything, could quite easily be considered threatening. I know if someone came up to me at work and started doing that I’d feel threatened. Fortunately I work in a zero tolerance work place and my employer would have no issue with ME telling someone like the to ‘F’ off. I wouldn’t have to wait for a customer to back me up.

    It’s an unfortunate fact that some people don’t pay attention until you escalate to their level. While the OP’s level of satisfaction was possible a little out of line, I don’t think her actions were at all.

  • iwadasn April 19, 2016, 7:06 pm

    I’d say this falls squarely in the “two wrongs don’t make a right” category.

    • Stephanie April 20, 2016, 4:28 am

      “Deliberately harassing two separate people with spider-themed Rule 34” and “forcefully telling the person who is harassing you to stop doing so” are not comparable wrongs. Not even if you swear.

  • Cat April 19, 2016, 8:27 pm

    I don’t find profane language to be of much use. The “F” word is used so much that, like the doctor in a previous comment, some people seem to use it as an adjective before every noun in a sentence and cannot speak without using it.
    We had a police officer at my school that used it. When he did it in my presence, I looked at him and asked, “Do you realize that there are ladies present?” He apologized and watched his speech. If we had used it too, my comment would have had no effect.
    When such language is directed at me, I simply say, “May the Lord rebuke you.” That confuses most people and I can escape.
    As for the odd man with the spider fixation, I believe I would have said, “Sir, your comments are inappropriate and offensive to the ladies and the children who are present. Please confine such comments to a locker room. They have no place in a restaurant and certainly not to this server who is being prevented from carrying out his/her duties. Perhaps this police officer can explain it to you better than I.”

    • Stephanie April 20, 2016, 4:32 am

      Why “ladies present?” Are women supposed to be more sensitive to swear words than men? That kind of smacks of outdated stereotypes wherein women are all delicate wilting flowers.

      If it’s inappropriate to swear in front of women, then it’s equally inappropriate to swear in front of men. Women aren’t a special case here. People are people.

      • Ashley April 20, 2016, 1:12 pm

        Hear hear!

      • Kate April 21, 2016, 5:24 am

        Hear, hear. I’m a woman and in the right situation, I can swear like a sailor (I don’t do it at work or around children).

      • Jazzgirl205 April 22, 2016, 8:59 am

        Profanity is disrespect. I do not consider myself “delicate” if I refuse to put up with disrespect. However, I do consider it weak and “wilting” to put up with disrespect and engage in it.

        • Stephanie April 23, 2016, 7:43 pm

          Okay, but the point is that to whatever degree you consider profanity disrespectful, it’s equally as disrespectful to men.

    • Kirsten April 20, 2016, 6:26 am

      Women aren’t special flowers with delicate ears!

    • Cat April 20, 2016, 10:19 am

      Alas, I am from a much older generation in which “locker room talk” was for male ears only. I hold to the standard of inequality, regardless of current values. I don’t want to hear it and I don’t want children to hear or to use it.
      Equality should be aimed at the higher values, not at the lower. The use of profanity is not a higher value. It shows a lack of education and of personal honor.
      Make me equal in careers, of being able to shatter the glass ceiling. Make me equal in courage to defend the right and to condemn the bigot. Make me equal in control of my life when, as an adult, I need neither the permission of my father nor of my husband to make decisions. But to tell you to “F*** off”, no. Count me out on that one.

      • Stephanie April 20, 2016, 8:54 pm

        It’s fine that you don’t want to hear people swear, and if I knew you personally I’d respect that and keep a lid on it in your presence. But that’s a “you” thing, not a “ladies” thing.

      • Willynilly April 21, 2016, 7:48 am

        You can’t climb a ladder without starting with the lower rungs. Equality is equality, the bad with the good. Cherry picking privledges is not equal.

    • Jo April 21, 2016, 3:22 am

      Equality is across the board. You can’t want equality in the work place and then act like a fainting flower if someone swears in front of you! They’re just words. Words that should only be used under certain circumstances, but just words all the same. If someone swears in front of you, just say, “sorry, I’m old fashioned, do you mind not using that word?” Saying, “May the Lord rebuke you!” Then ‘escaping’ is really odd.

      • stacey April 22, 2016, 11:05 am

        I kind of see both sides on this. I personally consider profanity to be inappropriate for all audiences (but can’t honestly claim that “damn” hasn’t ever come out of my mouth). It isn’t “cherry picking privileges to object to profanity. The cultural shift is that people now expect the audience to adjust to hearing it rather than the speaker adjusting to not using it. It’s true enough that we can’t police the words of others. And watching my own speech, motives and actions is enough for me. I still don’t like it but am willing to abandon the moral pontificating in favor of recognizing those areas where it is my purview to monitor (my speech, minors for whom I am responsible) and where it isn’t (everywhere else, except that I will invoke the privilege of objecting in some contexts- you’re swearing at your kids, your senior, your special needs young adult or others who cannot defend themselves as easily). Profanity in combination with anger can be threatening. If I reasonably and prudently deem that someone is in need of help, your free speech is going to take a back seat to their distress. Perhaps a VERY back seat…

        • Stephanie April 23, 2016, 7:46 pm

          I mean, I understand not wanting to hear it (I swear and don’t mind other people swearing, but I get that not everyone does). It’s specifically the idea that it’s _worse_ to swear in front of women just because they’re women that I (and others) objected to.

  • Just4Kicks April 20, 2016, 4:47 am

    I used to work with a lady who had gone through a nasty divorce the year before she started working at my store.
    She had recently started dating again, and would love to discuss her dates with everyone during our lunch breaks.
    She married very young, and was enjoying herself with her new found sexuality.
    Okay, good for her she is finding some happiness, but NO ONE wanted to hear about the guy she went out with last night has a “very talented tongue” among other parts of his body!!!
    And, no, we DO NOT want to hear that your ex husband never brought you to climax, but last night’s dreamboat DID….several times.
    Just….No…..we are eating (or trying to) for Pete’s sake!
    After a few lunch time sex-capade stories, she found herself eating alone.

  • Just4Kicks April 20, 2016, 5:53 am

    Once, my husband and I did our grocery shopping on a weekend morning.
    Later that night as we are packing the kids lunches for school the next day, we realize we didn’t buy any lunch meat or cheese at the store earlier that day.
    My husband offers to run to the store, hoping the deli was still open.
    When he gets back home, he is just gobsmacked by the behavior of the young adults who were working at the deli and the counter next to it.
    First of all, he said only he and one other lady who came after him waited a good five minutes while three teenage girls and one teenage boy were all looking at something on one of their phones.
    After several throat clearings, and finally, “Excuse me?!? Can one of you please help us?” they all rolled their eyes at each other, and less than enthusiastically asked my husband what he wanted.
    While this girl was getting our order together, the other kids continued their conversation, and the boy finally walked back to his side of the counter, still talking loudly to the girls.
    Ok, my husband is being helped, no big deal, enjoy your conversation whilst you work.
    Until….One of the girls yelled to the boy, “Hey! Janie just texted me back, and said you are full of sh@t!”
    This boy YELLED back, (excuse the upcoming language), “Oh yeah?!? Well….you can tell Janie I said she can suck my big, fat c#ck!!!”
    The lady waiting for her order turned bright red and said “Oh my God! Really?!?”
    My husband yelled over to the kid who said this, “Hey, kid, watch your mouth, and you’re really lucky my kids aren’t here! What is wrong with you?!?”
    The kid mumbled something under his breath and walked into the back.
    After my husband told me this, I called the store and spoke to the manager.
    Of course she wanted to know what was said, and I apologized to her for the language, but told her word for word the exchange between these kids.
    She was horrified, and couldn’t apologize to me enough, and then said she will go take care of them immediately and thanked me for calling.
    Again….my apologies for the course language, but it was important to the story.
    We never did see that kid again after that.

  • Anon April 20, 2016, 7:26 am

    Where do people live in this magical land where employees can ask people to leave or do something about creepy customers? Because I would love to live where you do! I mean that’s how it SHOULD be, but 95% of the time is not the case.

    Unfortunately, most of the time an employee can’t do that, especially if the creepy guy started to rave about he was a paying customer and that he shouldn’t be kicked out and the manager probably would have agreed with creepy guy. They tend to agree a lot more with customers than their own staff.

    • Denise April 20, 2016, 11:48 am

      I worked retail and retail management for many years in multiple stores. In each environment we were trained that there were many ways to handle customers that made us or other customers uncomfortable.

      The risk of a lawsuit from an employee who felt harassed or in a hostile work environment or the loss of business from customers who were offended always took priority over the handful that caused the ruckus. And this was in California, where we were also trained to make the customer feel like they were always right.

    • Yarnspinner April 20, 2016, 1:29 pm

      Thank you! I have been trapped at a reference desk by a patron who is fascinated with bodily functions, zombies and violent fantasies about what he would do to said zombies. I grant you he is autistic (or claims to be; sometimes it seems he knows to use it as an excuse and other times forgets that he has announced he is autistic). Still, I have friends with autism and relatives as well and none of them behave in such deliberately clueless fashion.

      Speaking to him gently does not work. We can’t throw him out because his social worker will be all over us for doing so as “Coming here is a bright light part of his day!” Usually we call each other on the phone to announce an “emergency” that requires our immediate attention. Unfortunately, that just means the patron latches on to the next staff member to discuss excrement and violence. And when the person who was called away returns, he goes right back to them. Only once has someone had it enough to tell him to quit:

      Another patron was having a heart attack and we were awaiting the ambulance while Staff Member A got the sick patron into position on the floor and helped him relax. Violence Guy actually straddled the sick man to continue discussing what he would like to do to some imaginary zombie member of his least favorite baseball team if fantasy player were to attack Violence Guy’s fantasy children. At that point, my coworker said “God d&mn, it, Violence Guy, this man does not need to hear any more of your sick fantasies. Take your &&&&&& crap and go home.”

      Violence Guy backed up a bit and mumbled “I’m just makin’ conversation.”

      And continued on with his sick line of conversation. Unless he really does something violent we can’t ban him and so we are stuck with him.

      • Cass April 21, 2016, 11:43 pm

        More companies and organizations need to get comfortable with firing customers. It makes EVERYONE miserable to hear someone who is misbehaving like that, and I wish managers and higher-ups understood it. If you support your employees, you actually do get better work performance, and I think supporting an employee is being willing to ban patrons who demonstrate this kind of behaviour.

  • kategillian April 20, 2016, 7:49 am

    I’m really not trying to cause offence here, but it seems like most of the commenters are very naive. I also work with the public, and people like this know that you are a captive audience and can’t walk away without fear of repercussions from your business, and that is why they continue to talk and talk and make you uncomfortable. Make no mistake, no matter what this man was saying, his goal was to make these people uncomfortable. The counter person could not walk away and ignore this man, and I applaud the OP for helping bring this situation to an end rather than just walking away and getting a sandwich elsewhere.

    • Annie April 20, 2016, 10:40 am

      I agree. OP, if I had been there I would have appreciated you getting rid of him. If swear words are what it took, then good for you for using them.

  • Lisa April 20, 2016, 8:01 am

    Ok, I had to google rule 34 and up came an article regarding the most extreme examples of rule 34. It was censored but, yes, it involved spiders. And if, like me, you have a fear of spiders, you will never be able to unsee it.

    So if someone was talking to me in a sandwich shop about THAT, I’m honestly not sure if I’d start swearing or curl up into the fetal position and cry.

    • Yarnspinner April 20, 2016, 4:27 pm

      Oh. My. God. Happily I could not see it, but I could read enough to understand what this guy was likely carrying on about. OP, if you started swinging, I think you would have been well within your rights!

  • Spuck April 20, 2016, 10:15 am

    I can agree with the admin that the original poster probably should have started out with not yelling, but I can’t blame her for swearing when this creep when he proved to be relentless. I mean he waited outside the eatery for the OP despite being escorted off the premise by a police offered. This is an individual determined to make other people uncomfortable.

  • Rachel April 20, 2016, 11:37 pm

    So for all of you saying the employee should have asked the guy to leave, he might not have been allowed to. A few years ago I was at an internet cafe type place that had children in it. A man was looking at porn and touching himself so oh course I reported it. The manager told me the are not allowed to kick anyone out and couldn’t call the police without talking to corporate. Which they couldn’t do because it was at like 7pm on a Saturday night and corporate was closed. So I left after taking the mother of the children aside and pointing out what was going on so she knew to leave and not expose her children to that.

  • Dawn April 21, 2016, 12:37 am

    Many responders have said the employee should have handled it. I got the impression he was young. When I was a teen and worked in retail I don’t think I would have had the skills to tell an inappropriate adult to stop and/or leave. I would have been very intimidated. And grateful for someone else’s intervention!


  • iridaceae April 22, 2016, 4:28 am

    I’m going to point out that the young employee was being sexually harassed. Males shouldn’t have to put up with it any more than females should.

    It’s also possible that there was no manager there.

    I will bet a dime the guy goes from business to business doing this.

    • Phoenix April 25, 2016, 12:21 pm

      No doubt Spidercreep would be doing this at every business he invades. The thing about creepers is they want an audience to bully around. A young cashier is most definitely a likely victim of being a captive audience. This is why you probably hear plenty of stories of young cashier being hit on all the time.

      This is why stores need to have rules in place to protect the employees from becoming an unwanted captive audience.

  • SJ April 26, 2016, 2:29 am

    There is no one right way to deal with a creep.

    I can empathize with the OP reaching for pepper spray and not being able to simply tune out a disgusting monologue. I’ve been in situations that sound similar, where ignoring/walking away doesn’t work. They follow. They harass.

    That said, I wasn’t there. Who knows if she did the right thing?

    But, there’s not one right way to deal with every creep you encounter. Some will get bored if you ignore them, many won’t. Some will back down if you yell or swear, but some might get more enraged. Using firm language in a low voice might work. But it might not. It’s an unfair world where those who break the rules of etiquette and society often win by being bigger and meaner. And it’s unfair that it’s the victim, the bystander, the well-meaning citizens who get chastised for not handling it perfectly.

  • Tara April 30, 2016, 4:07 pm

    Old fashioned swear words no longer offend most of the young (myself included). We have new swear words which we never use and get offended if we hear. Those new swear words are all racial/gender slurs or other words that marginalize minority groups (such as the word people used to use for the mentally handicapped). The new f-word is a slur that refers to gay people.

    I get that a lot of older people are still offended by old swear words which refer to excrement and sexual terms, because those are the things they found offensive back then. Going back in time even farther, the swear words were those deemed offensive to religion, things most of us don’t find the least bit offensive. Times change, and so does language. I might hear a 60 year old say someone is acting r-word, which is very offensive to someone under 30.

    In another generation, using f*ck as the modifier will only offend the elderly, in the way we don’t say “I swear to God” around our grandmas now.

  • NostalgicGal May 6, 2016, 1:43 am

    Asking them to stop. They continue. Ask them LOUDER to stop. They continue. Whip out your phone and start recording. Smile. “I’m about to transmit this to the police, and you can explain harassment. I can also post it to the web.” Most creepos especially if you have something between you and them, will just leave at that point. Evidence that is gone in the click of the finger, to where it can’t be erased, is powerful enough to make a lot scuttle away.