Increasingly, rudeness seems to have replaced common courtesy. These days, it's not uncommon to hear about or witness passengers acting out on planes, bad sportsmanship on and off the playing field and customers yelling at salespeople.
Rude behavior can spoil a good meal, as patrons at Six Brothers Diner in New Jersey recently learned. Patrons sat stunned while an obnoxious customer demanded his waitress put on hand sanitizer, asked for hot water to clean his silverware and scolded her, noting she was "not the sharpest knife in the drawer."
Some customers asked to be moved, complaining to the manager about the rude man's behavior. Others gave words of support to the bewildered, hardworking waitress while a few directly confronted the bad-mannered customer.
What the onlookers did not know was that both the rude customer, Jeremy Holm, and the waitress, Ashley Michaelson, were actors working for "What Would You Do." We watched with our hidden cameras to see how people would react when exposed to such rudeness.
Some of the diners offered Michaelson advice and encouragement.
"Are you okay?" asked customer Helen DeGraff.
"Yeah, I'm okay. It happens sometimes. Thank you, though," said Michaelson.
Another diner thought Michaelson should inform management.
"Cover yourself," he told her.
The obnoxious behavior continued as Holm complained about the check, even though our waitress offered not to charge for some of the items he ordered.
"They should let him go," one customer said. "Tell him to get out of here."
When Holm finally left, the other diners celebrated his departure with a smattering of applause.
For our next group of diners, Holm, who in real life is also a part-time waiter, pulled out more lines he's heard from years spent waiting tables.
"Miss, take this back, go into the kitchen," he told our waitress.
One customer, Richard Loftus, shared this suggestion with Michaelson: "Why don't you kick him or something? I've never seen a customer like that."
Michaelson explained, "I really need this job. I can't be rude."
And as Holm walked toward her, demanding his food, good Samaritan Loftus sprang into action.
"Don't be an ass," Loftus said.
"I'm sorry," Holm replied.
"Sorry is kind of late," Loftus shot back.
"I just want my food," Holm said.
Loftus later told us he could not stand by and watch Michaelson be mistreated.
"It could be your son, your daughter working. Would you want people acting like that to them?" he said. "They're trying to make a living like everyone else."
As we try our scenario one more time, Holm is being waited on by another actress we hired, Jennifer Brock.
This time, Holm's first gripe is about his glass of water.
Brock had brought Holm a glass without ice, as he'd requested. But Holm isn't entirely pleased.
"There's a little piece of ice in there," he complains.
Then he talks on his cell phone while the waitress tries to take his order. When Brock turns to wait on other customers, Holm interrupts her.
Customer Fabiana Bloom notices his boorish behavior from several tables away and comes to the defense of our waitress.
"Excuse me, excuse me. Can you be a little bit more respectful to her?" asked Bloom. "Yeah, you. Really, you're treating her so poorly and everybody's noticing."
"I'm just trying to get some food," said Holm.
"I totally wouldn't be surprised if she spit in your food," she replied. "Learn how to treat people."