Imagine you've stopped in for a drink and a bite to eat at a lovely oceanside restaurant on the New Jersey shore. You order yourself a drink and notice a beautiful young woman sitting near you at the bar. Later, a man enters and takes the seat next to her. It seems like an innocent situation.
"Excuse me, I know this is a little forward," he says to her, "but could I get your phone number?"
"No, sorry," she says.
"I don't know if this is going to work … because I really want your phone number," he persists.
The man is relentless, touching her arm and reaching for her hair, even after the young woman insists, "Please stop."
If you see a man making unwanted advances toward a woman, what would you do? Is it your responsibility to confront the guy, or is it safer to keep your distance?
To find out what people would do, we rigged Mcloone's Pier House with hidden cameras and hired actors, Brigitte and Jeremy, to stage this ethical dilemma.
"What Would You Do?" anchor John Quiñones, the producers, and production staff watched the scene from a control room as the first patrons, a retired couple, stumbled into our experiment. They immediately noticed Jeremy's brazen approach. After just a couple of minutes of looking on in utter shock, Rosemary Goodman had had enough and jumped to Brigitte's aid.
"Excuse me, would you like to join us?" she said. "We're going right outside."
Brigitte eagerly accepted Goodman's offer and began to get up from her seat.
But Jeremy, the unwanted suitor, chimed in, "Yeah, we'll all go."
At this point it was all too much for Jerry Goodman, Rosemary Goodman's husband, as he demanded that our acto "Sit where you are. NOW!"
'The Cane Would Have Hit Him'
The aggressor, Jeremy, slumped back in his seat and explained that he was just trying to be friendly, to which Rosemary Goodman responded, "No, that's not the way to be friendly. Not to a young lady at a bar that you don't know. That's very ugly."
Later, after "What Would You Do?" producers told him it was all an experiment, he told us, "I swear, if he had mentioned anything else, the cane would have hit him."
Next, our actors got the attention of a group of unsuspecting men. Rather than use a cane, they decided to band together.
Having witnessed Jeremy's advances, the men stopped Brigitte on her return from the restroom, and one of them, Bill Baroska, told her, "If there's anything that's bothering you, we'll all take care of the situation. Don't get exasperated or upset or anything like that, we'll take care of it." After a brief exchange, they offered Brigitte a seat in between them at the bar so she could enjoy her drink in peace. Doug Dunn, another gentleman in the group, shifted down a seat to let our actress in.
But Jeremy, undeterred, moved past Dunn and asked Brigitte for her phone number. Paul Tracey, the biggest guy in the group, decided to do something about it.
He calmly placed a hand on Jeremy's shoulder and said, "That's enough. She doesn't want to be bothered."
It was time to break the scene and not a moment too soon. Baroska explained, "He was milliseconds from being pushed out the door and perhaps even worse."
Looking Out for Brigitte
Having seen what a group of men would do when confronted with this dilemma, we were curious to see how a group of women might react. That's when four young teachers made their way into our bar. Like the men, these women invited Brigitte to join them. Jennifer Colon, who was sitting with our actress, told Jeremy, "We want to have a drink, we're talking, could you just go away for a little while?"
Life and relationship coach Donna Barnes offered an explanation as to why these women might have been so quick to help. "I think women in general are sensitive to this because it's happened to every one of us at one time or another."
The next three patrons decided to try a different tack and alerted the bartender to our actor's poor behavior, who was also an actor hired by "What Would You Do?" When this proved fruitless, Susan Corkery decided to confront the stalker herself. "Why don't you shut the f**k up and leave everybody alone. Plain and simple."
Once Jeremy stepped away to use the restroom, Corkery explained to our bartender, "I'm from New York. I don't put up with this s**t!" Later, she told our correspondent that "hitting on someone is one thing, but constantly grabbing them is another."
'Stop Touching Her'
Having watched so many people come to the aide of our actress, we began to wonder: Would people be so willing to help if Brigitte had dressed more provocatively and changed her attitude?
Pam and John McGovern were the first to take a seat at the bar to see a transformed Brigitte. Now that she was louder and more assertive, would anyone believe she needed help?
It didn't take long for Pam McGovern to get involved, telling Jeremy, "She asked you to stop touching her."
After a brief exchange, Brigitte paid her bill and left the bar. Jeremy, who still wouldn't take no for an answer, also excused himself and followed her out of the bar.
McGovern, not knowing what to think, told the bartender, "If you read tomorrow that a woman was raped, it'll be this guy. That's how bad he was."
McGovern decided to head outside with the bartender to make sure Brigitte wasn't in any danger. Convinced Brigitte was safe, MsGovern returned to the bar where our producers were waiting to let her in on the experiment.
So what had McGovern thought of our outfit change and attitude adjustment? She explained, "She just was a young 20-something girl having a drink." Regardless of how our actress dressed or behaved, during two days of our "What Would You Do?" experiment, almost everyone who witnessed the unwanted advances stepped in to help.