I should never watch movies because I can’t watch one without it affecting me one way or another. Well, I blew it tonight, I watched Spotlight. Of course it made me think about right and wrong, not just because I’m a lapsed Catholic, but because I’m a human.
The big thing I took away from it is that when you see something happening, and you know it’s wrong, you have to speak up. Sadly, the one time I saw something, very wrong, I did not speak up and it’s far too late now.
Years ago, my first job was as a sales representative. I drove all over western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio selling thrilling products like Listerine, Listermint, Efferdent, Effergrip, Schick Razor Blades and Sinutabs. I considered myself luckier than my friend Susan, who sold Playtex tampons. That would have been tough for me, but she loved it.
She’d go into tiny grocery store offices and shamelessly give demonstrations, using a tampon and a glass of water, to elderly men, who hadn’t seen a woman, or the light of day in years. They would order cases and cases just to get her out of there.
It was a good job right out of college. I had a company car and the freedom to make my own schedule. Plus, it was a good excuse to eat out a lot because I was always on the road.
One day, I was eating in a shopping plaza in little town called Leetsdale, just north of Pittsburgh. I had just finished my lunch and headed to the restroom. I was about to get down to the business of removing the appropriate clothing, when for some reason, I looked up at the vent above the toilet.
I was horrified to see an elderly man’s face looking down at me and he looked just as shocked to see me looking up at him — apparently I was the first person to ever do that. He quickly stepped back. I felt nauseated and left the restaurant immediately.
Did I tell the owner of the restaurant? No. Did I say a word to anyone? No. And to this day, I can’t figure out why. Maybe I was busy, or embarrassed or shy, but it doesn’t matter. I should have said something because it wasn’t about me, it was about all the other people who would become victims. The restaurant has been closed for decades now and I’m sure the man is dead and gone
But it still bothers me because how many women must have gone into that restroom, completely unaware that some elderly creep was watching them from upstairs? The famous saying by Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (or women) to do nothing,” is always true.
Speaking up may not be the easy thing to do, but it’s always the right thing to do. I wish I would have done it and I’m certainly glad the Boston Globe had the guts to do it.