Thursday, August 19, 2010

Forsyth Park Cafe Not That Classy?

You would think that with the Mansion on Forsyth managing the Forsyth Park Cafe, they would know how to hire classy workers. Not so much.

Today at around 1:30pm, I'm walking home through the park with my groceries. I have my work clothes and sunglasses on. As I'm passing the fountain heading west, I see this guy up ahead of me. He exits out a back door of the Forsyth Cafe and heads away from me. He looks back over his shoulder and notices me walking in the distance behind him. He keeps looking back over his shoulder and alters his course so he's heading in the same direction I am. I keep trying to mind my business, looking straight ahead, not making eye contact. He looks back a few more times and chooses a seat right where I'm about to walk by him... as you can see from the pics, it's not a very comfortable seat. There were plenty of open benches around the area. Since he kept looking back at me and since he altered his course, I'm pretty sure his seat of choice was deliberate so he could get my attention. I thought to myself, "Here it comes." and not a moment later, he tries to get my attention.

He calls to me, "If I weren't on break, I'd sure love to carry those bags." While that is a catcall (and a bit patronizing of him to assume without asking me if I even needed help), it wasn't that bad in my opinion, so I called back, without looking back over my shoulder, "I don't need it!"

If this man were a true gentleman, he would have been able to accept a woman's "no" gracefully and gone about his business. Not this guy. He isn't a gentleman, he just pretends to be one for the first five seconds. He's a fraud.

He starts mocking me, ranting about how I'm "feisty" (even more patronizing!), and talks about my walk and my body. It's really hard to make the whole sentences out because I had walked a bit ahead by now, but I was catching words here and there.

I have experienced street harassment of all kinds in Savannah for a long time, and I'm fed up with it. I deserve to feel safe and non-harassed in the very park I help pay for! This was one of those last straws, so I stopped, walked back toward him and told him that what he was doing was street harassment. He pretended to be dumb and kept saying "For speaking to you?!" over and over, like a broken record. I explained that making sexual comments about women and trying to force them to interact with him unsolicited, and making women feel unsafe is all considered street harassment. I told him that it is not a respectful way to speak to women. He kept repeating his stupid broken record phrase. I kept repeating that it was street harassment. He then starts insulting me under his breath. I told him that if he did not stop speaking, I would talk to his employer, because women should not be treated like this.

He says, "I know what you are." I pull my camera out and take two pictures. As I'm walking away, I hear him call me a bitch under his breath. He says some more insults, but by now I'm too far away again to hear them. You know, if he's that bad about taking "no" from a woman who is just walking by, I'd hate to think of what he'll do to the next woman that turns him down for sex. He seems to have a huge ego problem when it comes to women denying him.

All this while he was on the clock for the Forsyth Cafe! He's even wearing his work uniform and his black apron. I'm going to go talk to the managers with my boyfriend this weekend. And I'm bringing the pictures with me. I hope Forsyth Cafe is helpful, so it will just be the individual that's a bad egg, and not the company as a whole. I will e-mail HollaBack an update on what happens. Thanks for being here for me to vent. It makes me really sad to know this wouldn't have happened if I were a guy.

UPDATE: I wanted to write back and let you know I spoke to someone at Forsyth Cafe. My boyfriend and I went and talked to someone named "DeNatto" or "Denato" on Saturday. I didn't catch the spelling of his name, sorry! He was a really sympathetic and helpful person. He asked me if there was anything they could do for me. I stressed that what I wanted most was for management to have a discussion with the employee. "Denato" (Sorry for the spelling again!) agreed that it wasn't appropriate and I should be able to just walk home through the park minding my own business. He said the discussion would happen and took down my information and let me know that management would be in contact with me for a follow up. I'm comforted to know that this business does hire good people and that the harasser was probably a bad egg.

Interesting fact! "Denato" knew exactly who I was talking about before I gave him a description or showed a picture of the harasser. In fact, "Denato" described who he thought I was talking about to me first and I confirmed it. That makes me wonder if Mr. Harasser has a history...

UPDATE: It's been over a week. I never heard back from them. I'm really disappointed and I worry that they just tossed my info in the paper when I left the store. Maybe I will try a follow-up again? I don't know if I have the heart for more disappointment. They promised I'd be contacted in a few days.

Submitted by anonymous 08/19/2010

Location: Forsyth Park