Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where we take a look at the best and strangest stories from inside the food industry. This week, we bring you more stories of sexual harassment in restaurants that dial the sleaze up to shiver-inducing levels. As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
"In my 20's (mid-1990's), I worked at an upscale New Orleans restaurant on the edge of the French Quarter. One evening, a group of elderly Texas oil types sat in my section. The ringleader wore a white suit, cowboy hat, and bolo tie, and he must've been in his late 80's, at LEAST.
He called me over to the table and told me the salt shaker was empty. I'd just filled it, so I picked it up, shook a bit of salt in my hand, and showed it to him. He then grabbed my wrist and LICKED MY PALM with his nasty little old man tongue while his buddies roared. He didn't just lick it once — he wouldn't let go, and licked it in several lascivious, short little motions, as if performing oral sex, and even made a little aahhhhmmm sound. My skin damn near crawled right off my bones, and I refused to go back to the table."
"When I was 18, I worked at a truck stop. It was open 24 hours, and I generally worked the graveyard shift from 10 PM-6 AM. One night I had an especially crude truck driver come in. He started off with his particularly off brand of flirting by telling me rude jokes and commenting on my clothing choices. I was used to lonely truck drivers wanting attention but this fellow was demanding that I pay attention to him. While I was filling his coffee up for the umpteenth time he asked me "what would you do if I smacked your bottom?" To which I replied with a smile on my face "well I guess I'd smack your face."
The next time I walked by him he did just that: he reached out his rough paw of a hand and smacked me right on the behind. I was so shocked that he would actually reach over the counter enter my personal space and give my ass a good hard slap that I stayed true to my word spun around and slapped him across his rosy cheeks. One of the other drivers who was a regular then stood up and asked him to leave."
"In my very early twenties I worked as a bartender at a rather well-known seafood chain that was just recently sold by its parent company. The last year I worked there I was assigned the closing shift on Christmas Eve; the restaurant had normal hours that day, so doors closed at 11. Around 10:45, no one had been in for hours and I was trying to clean up so I could leave as soon as we locked the doors to make it to the tail end of a family party an hour away.
I was wiping down the station when a single man in his mid-thirties sat down at the bar and ordered a water. After a few minutes, I asked if he'd like anything else, letting him know our kitchen would be closed soon. He was fine with his water, but expressed an interest in where I worked out, since, as he noted when I climbed onto a step-stool to shelve some bottles, "an ass that fine must belong to a gym." I ignored him and continued trying to clean despite the occasional comment, usually classic lines such as "Damn girl" and "Mmhmm." Finally, one of the few servers who hadn't been cut came by and agreed to watch the bar while I ran to the kitchen. When I came back at five minutes to close, all that was left of my late-night guest was a crumpled napkin and an empty water glass.
Do you have a crazy restaurant story you'd like to see appear in Behind Closed Ovens? Please e-mail WilyUbertrout@gmail.com with "Behind Closed Ovens" in the subject line (or you can find me on Twitter @EyePatchGuy). Submissions are always welcome!
Also, if you'd like to share a story about dealing with sexual harassment from customers, Behind Closed Ovens isn't the only venue where you can do so: Restaurant Opportunities Centers #LivingOffTips campaign is a great resource, and they're always looking for submissions. You can submit stories anonymously or with your name attached, just like here — the difference being, I'm just some jackass with a blog and a love of swearwords, and they're people who actually work to make life better for restaurant workers. Seriously, check them out — ROC does great work, and there's a lot of useful information on that site. As an added bonus, the National Restaurant Association (the so-called "other NRA," and the same organization that gave us Herman Cain) HATES the ROC, and anyone those guys don't like gets major plaudits, as far as I'm concerned.
Image via Hasloo Group Production Studio/Shutterstock.