Elizabeth Flux, Junkee
Sometimes it’s a comment — “you look like a princess sitting there”. Sometimes it’s insistence on getting personal information out of you — “you don’t look like you’re from here — where are you from?” Other times it’s unwanted physical contact. Or a follow-up on previous unreciprocated behaviour — “you’re still here princess? I should buy you a crown.” And some of the time, it’s worse. Usually, however, your response is to smile politely, and extract yourself from the situation as soon as possible — without seeming unfriendly of course.
If you speak to any hospitality worker, they’ll have a story. About a creepy customer. About a time they felt unsafe. About a time they were treated more as an object than as a person. It’s an odd thing, how sexual harassment has somehow become accepted as something that is now just part of working in the hospitality industry. But, in a field where power hierarchy is essential and “the customer is always right”, it makes an ugly sort of sense.