Story 3: Hot Tub Story
Dear Engaged Bystander: I love this story because it is about two close friends I deeply care about. One think I love about them is that they speak up whenever they feel they need to. In this case, I also love that they come up with a solution that 1) let them take action and 2) shared the responsibility with a person in authority. I hope you too will find this a useful illustration.
A few years ago some friends and their two small children were visiting our small college town in Massachusetts. We wanted to give them a break and offered to take care of their kids while they went off to a serene Japanese style hot tub. But it was a Saturday night and the place was packed. Although they had a reservation, they needed to wait a few minutes for their tub. While waiting, a man in his late 30’s and two young women walked in. They were clearly drunk and very loud which immediately changed the quiet atmosphere. My friends were uncomfortable with the shift, but even more disturbed by the way the man had his hands all over the two young women.
No one else seemed to be looking at these new arrivals or the dynamics of their interactions. My friends talked about what they could do. Say something casually in a public setting to all of them, talk with the two young women if they can find a way to pull one or both aside, talk with the man directly, or talk with the manager.
Knowing there was also a rule of “no alcohol in the hot tub” they decided to explain their concerns to the manager. They voiced their concerns and also suggested that the manager us the no alcohol rule to pull the man aside. The manager agreed. He approached the three newcomers and gently explained the rule and his obligation to look into the bags. He took the man into the back area to conduct the search more privately. While the two men were away, it gave the two young women a chance to change their circumstances – one young women immediately called a friend and asked them to be picked up. The two women left shortly thereafter and the man walked out alone.
As my friends were shown to their hot tub, the manager thanked them for saying something to him.
Even if there is not a hot tub place in your town (unlikely, I know), I hope that this story shows how there are often others in a situation who can and will help, if you know what to ask for. That too is a perfect bystander action.