#MeToo: What Are the Good Guys Supposed to Do?
September 17, 2018

I like to think I'm a good guy. I try to be. In the workplace, I have often been described as 'professional'. I take pride in that. I believe that I work hard, and am nice to people. I'm certainly no Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Al Franken, Les Moonves, or anything like how those people are now perceived after allegations of sexual misconduct have destroyed their careers. Here's where I'm going with this...

As part of our morning news program at the radio station I work for, I do a ten-minute interview each day, usually with someone representing a non-profit organization or a community or service group, talking about what they do for the community or an event coming up. Our news booth is a small studio, so the number of guests I have each morning are usually just one or two people.

One day last month was a very typical example. A woman came in to promote an event, we talked on the air for ten minutes, and everything seemed to be fine. That is, until I got a call from her last week. She called the front desk, and not the newsroom, so a vaguely-worded hand-written note was left on my desk saying she wanted to talk to me. When I called her back, she was very cryptic about what she wanted to talk about, but wanted to come down to the station and discuss it with me in person. We set up a time for the next day.

I hadn't met her before the day of the interview, and all the while I was trying to think what this could be about. I asked her on the phone if I should be worried about this, and she said, “no, I just want to be open.” Having no idea what that meant, I thought maybe I mispronounced her name, or said something incorrect about her event or organization. The thought that I may have offended her in some way did cross my mind, but what she said in our face-to-face meeting completely blindsided me.

The meeting was mid-afternoon. She was ten minutes late. When I was told of her arrival, I met her in our lobby, and there was another woman with her. She was only introduced by her first name, and I don't know if she was an attorney or a friend, but she was there as a witness to our conversation. I knew right then that this was more serious than I thought, and probably should have gotten a witness of my own. My boss was on the air at the time, I probably could have recorded the conversation, but I didn't, and the three of us went into our conference room.

The woman recounted the morning she showed up for our interview. As I usually do, I ushered her into our newsroom. The small studio is attached, so I usually chat with my guest off air in the newsroom, and then go into the studio for our on-air segment. As we walked into the newsroom, I pointed to an empty chair and said, “Have a seat. Make yourself comfortable.” Then, according to her, I allegedly lowered my voice and said, “and you can take off your shirt if you like.”

I assured her over and over again that I didn't say that. She insisted that I did, but the conversation never got loud or heated. She said she was hoping for “a different outcome” from our conversation—that I would admit what I said was wrong, apologize, admit that women are not to be talked to like that, and be done with it. I told her I couldn't have said what she accused me of, because I don't talk like that, or even think like that.

I'm not sure what I actually said, but the chair that she sat in was across the room from where I was, so I likely said something to the effect of, “you can pull that chair closer if you like.” That's not close to what she said I said, but it had to have been something like that. I did apologize for any misunderstanding, but still denied the allegation. After about twenty-minutes, with just a couple of words from her 'friend', we amicably ended the conversation. She said she wasn't sure what she was going to do next, and had to “process” what I had told her. I thanked her for coming in and talking to me in person.

I am thinking and hoping that the matter is now closed, but for me, it has opened up a completely new issue. Yes, she came in and addressed the matter face to face, but what if she didn't? She could have filed some sort of complaint, or worse, posted false allegations on social media. Put enough hashtags on the end of them and I wouldn't be able to show my face anywhere again, much less in the small town where I work. That was not this woman's intent, and I do believe that what she actually thinks that's what I said, but I didn't. So how is someone like me supposed to protect themselves from this kind of thing?

In 1946, when asked about well-liked Giants Manager Mel Ott, whose team wasn't performing too well, Brooklyn Dodgers Manager Leo Durocher reportedly said, “Nice guys finish last.” In 2018, a nice guy can, for no real reason, be ostracized on social media, end up on the unemployment line, or at least in this case (fortunately and hopefully), set things straight with his accuser and only have to deal with how a misunderstanding could have turned into something much worse.


He's been gone a long time, but today would have been my dad's 87th birthday. I still miss him.

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