Why do we hesitate to get involved in the affairs of others?
I've been told to mind my own business, but then I've also been told that if I am silent on the bad behavior of others, I am condoning the bad behavior. You know, saying nothing means you agree, or whatever. So I'm told.
"Men, when you see another man harassing a woman or acting inappropriately toward them, get involved, or you're just as bad as them for condoning it."
I actually listened to that advice in a Prevent Sexual Harassment seminar, and I agreed at the time that we should get involved.
One evening I was working the cash registers at the local retail outlet. The registers are lined up side by side on a single long counter, and customers wait in a single line for the next available register. A young guy whistled and hooted at a female co-worker stocking shelves behind the counter. It was impossible to ignore, but at first glance I saw no real harm and no reason to intervene.
I continued working with my customer at my register, you know, minding my business. Unfortunately the youngster was not satisfied by her inattention, so he waved and yoo-hooed to her. As she glanced his way, he kissed at the air in front of him obviously flirting. She frowned and looked down, then hurriedly walked out from behind the counter heading for the back of the store. He continued with his peacocking, and even offered some choice words as her back was now to him.
He approached the register next to mine. I turned his way, the woman attending the register obviously not wanting to get involved, and I said in a loud commanding voice, "Hey you! That's my daughter." He smiled and replied, "She didn't get it from you, damn that's a beautiful woman!"
I chuckled, I could hardly be angry at that response, and he said no more from then till he left the store after completing his purchase. Later in the break room, I'm sitting there sipping my drink munching on a sandwich when she came out of the manager's office. She walked over to me wagging her finger inches from my face. "How dare you? I can take care of myself, and I'm not you're fucking daughter you asshole!"
My goodness, I thought, she's really upset. I was a bit taken aback, as I thought it obvious I was only intervening on her behalf at what I'd perceived as her embarrassed reaction to a customer who was sexually harassing her. I had gotten involved showing him and everyone else I did not tolerate such behavior.
Next thing I know, I'm being called onto the carpet in the manager's office. She told me that I was out of line for calling her my daughter, which is true, I must admit, for she and I were not related in any way, and for harassing a customer. I was written up with a cautionary statement that if it occurred again, I would be fired for sexual harassment.
I eventually was fired, not for that, but as the store manager put it, it just wasn't working out. But I was minding my business.