What?! This is absolutely ridiculous and scary. It is, however, a natural danger in today’s mobile-obsessed world. After reading the details of the story, originally reported by local news outlet WLBZ, I think you will come to the same conclusion that we did. The offending waiter is a piece of S%@! and should be treated as such.
The victim claims that he accidentally left his cellphone at his table when he went outside for a smoke break. During this time, his waiter picked up his phone and scrolled through it. That by itself is terrible, but the waiter apparently found a topless photo of the guest’s girlfriend and shared it to the web.
A violation of privacy
The waiter violated the guest’s privacy by even picking up and opening the phone left on the table. Second, to look through the photos and post a topless image to the web is downright dastardly. Did he really think that he would get away with it?
This story obviously supports always locking your phone. But, should someone really expect that a phone left on a restaurant table would be tampered with by his waiter? We’re not even talking about a phone that was accidentally left behind after a guest exited the restaurant. The victims hadn’t yet finished their meal.
When the victims returned to their table from a smoke break, they saw their waiter flipping through the boyfriend’s cellphone. Can you imagine how that conversation must have gone? When the photo surfaced a few weeks later on pornographic websites, the couple immediately knew who must have shared it. There was a note posted on one of the sites with the same date stamp as when they visited the restaurant.
Should the guest have left his cellphone on the table when he and his girlfriend went outside? No. Does it make sense in today’s day and age not to password protect your phone, especially when it has nude pictures of your girlfriend on it? No. Should under any circumstance a waiter pick up a guest’s phone, flip through pictures, and post a nude photo from the device to the Internet?
I can’t even type the number of Os that the response deserves. It’s absolutely ridiculous and is a crime. It’s a personal violation so egregious that the waiter should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
How would your staff react?
Even though this situation didn’t involve a truly lost device, it speaks to why every restaurant should have a policy in place regarding lost cellphones. Now, is there a chance that someone else other than the waiter could have posted the topless photo? Of course there is, but the details of the story make that somewhat hard to believe. The waiter put himself in a position to be the prime suspect. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
When a phone is left at a table, it should be immediately turned in to a manager. Servers should not practice their best Columbo routines and attempt to uncover which of their previous guests lost his or her phone. There are too many negative situations that could happen -- such as being accused of stealing private information or photographs -- when servers take it upon themselves to handle lost cellphones.
This is the exact kind of situation that managers should be trained and prepared to handle. They have the requisite experience and knowledge to navigate privacy concerns while attempting to reunite a lost device with its owner.
Cellphone image by Pieter Ouwerkerk.