Today, bartender Laura Ramadei is thankful in an odd sort of way. She's thankful to the investment manager whose decision to fondle her fanny and make a lewd comment convinced her to speak out -- and to move on.
In an open letter posted to Facebook on Monday, Ramadei -- an NYU honors graduate who's also an actress by training -- recounts the interaction with a customer who, she writes, "put his hand on my ass and asked if he could take me 'to go.'" The contact, which Ramadei clarified to The Huffington Post was more of a "weird, sustained touch" than a full-on grope, was a prelude to a measly $2.00 tip, a photo of which the bartender has provided to corroborate her story.
(Scroll down to see the full letter.)
Her post describes the scene of the incident as a "family-friendly restaurant" and goes on to say that her outfit consisted of a "loose-fitting, long sleeve shirt, jeans, and no makeup."
"I'm not sure where the confusion arose as to what kind of service you were being provided," she writes, continuing later, "Maybe -- just maybe -- via the intimately connected internet world, my post will reach you, and you'll learn something about how hurtful and upsetting a small comment or gesture might be."
Ramadei told HuffPost her letter was intended "to promote awareness ... not to provoke or attack," and that the viral response to her Facebook post has been completely unexpected. "I sincerely hope [the letter is] not resulting in attacks on the customer or his family," she said.
As for why she chose to include the details of what she was wearing, Ramadei says she found it relevant, even though it should have no bearing on whether or not she deserved to be harassed:
I hesitated before including that info, knowing that I could potentially feed a "slut-shaming" pattern, but chose to include it, along with information about the time and nature of the location. I know that some people reading the account might have pictured a busy, loud, dark, drunken bar. I wanted to paint a full picture of the event so as to remind readers that this sort of thing goes on all of the time, in every environment.
Reached for comment by the New York Post, the customer denied any wrongdoing. "I've grabbed plenty of girls’ asses in my life," he said, "but I’ve never grabbed hers."
He did acknowledge having placed an initial order with Ramadei, making an off-menu request of "you to go with nothing on it." The Post reports he further called Ramadei a "f**ing c**t" for having written the letter, and promised to "make sure she doesn’t get another job in New York City."
Here's the full text of Ramadei's letter. Scroll down to see her photo of the measly tip allegedly left by the customer.
You came into the restaurant where I work and ordered a Stoli on the rocks. When I asked you and your companion if you'd be eating, or needing anything else from me, you put your hand - ever so gently - ON MY ASS and asked if you could take me "to go". When I immediately stepped away and said "Sorry, what?" you probably gathered that I was and am not receptive of such advances from customers. We were in a family-friendly restaurant, around 6:30pm, and I was wearing a loose-fitting, long sleeve shirt, jeans, and no makeup...so I'm not sure where the confusion arose as to what kind of service you were being provided. You left soon after, leaving a signed credit card slip and a two dollar tip (see picture included!). Your name is Brian Lederman. I found you, instantly, via a quick Google search online. I looked at your face on Linked In, the World's Largest Professional Network. You work at Swiss Performance Management and Truehand AG, in Investment Management. Of course you do.
I work as a bartender, and have for more than five years now. I graduated NYU with honors, and have at some point held down every conceivable part time type job including but not limited to food service, administration, and even temp work at firms such as yours. So far, bartending allows me the most flexibility to pursue my artistic career, while comfortably covering my basic living expenses, including my outrageously high student loan payments. I have a good job that I'm grateful for. The environment is low key, I have incredibly supportive coworkers and managers, and - in general - the clientele is nice.
But I still hate being a bartender. Over the years my knowledge and skill set have expanded, but I seem to be getting worse at tolerating the "service" part. I deal with incredible amounts of entitlement, condescension, and drunk nonsense. And at a bar, it is impossible to ignore the fact that misogyny is alive and well. I can't tell you how many times people have treated me horribly and I've memorized or photographed the names from their credit cards, fantasizing about internet revenge. But every time I've been tempted in the past (even after verbal attacks, physical affronts, or sexual harassment) I've stopped myself and let it go.
So congratulations, Brian! You've done it! You broke this tired ass camel's back. And though this is obviously a public shaming, I truly don't mean this as an attack. Maybe - just maybe - via the intimately connected internet world, my post will reach you, and you'll learn something about how hurtful and upsetting a small comment or gesture might be. Or at the very least, maybe a Facebook passerby will read this and more deeply consider how they treat women, how they treat servers, and/or how they treat other people in general. And thank you. Without your inspiration I wouldn't be quitting my job today, and endeavoring a better chapter of my life.
p.s. Everyone else - please be kind to your server. If your drink took a while, it might just be because your bartender was rage crying about misogyny in the bathroom. Also because if you're not nice to her, she just might memorize the name from your credit card, find you online, hunt you down, and pee in your bed while you're sleeping.
p.p.s. I'm looking for work to sustain me until all of my acting dreams come true! Something that requires only 30ish flexible hours a week and that covers NYC rent and NYU student loan payments. Open to all ideas and input.