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 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."