Restaurant work, or any hospitality industry job for that matter, can be particularly thankless. Between low wages, sparse tips, and aggressive customers, hospitality workers must maintain a positive pokerface. The internet is cheering on one Georgia server, however, after she showed the customer that he couldn’t be more wrong in groping her while on the job.
In CCTV footage shared to Reddit earlier this week, 21-year-old Emelia Holden, a server at Vinnie Van GoGo’s pizzeria in Savannah, Georgia, is seen pulling a customer by the back of his t-shirt and slamming him to the ground after he walked behind her and nonchalantly groped her rear end. She then appears to scold the customer, pointing at him before appearing to call attention to the situation from inside the restaurant.
The poster, u/sploogesock, identified Holden as his cousin, and stated that the groper, identified as 31-year-old Ryan Cherwinski, was arrested in front of his wife and two children. Chatham County Sheriff’s Office public information coordinator Bianca Johnson said Cherwinski was taken into custody on June 30 after police reviewed the footage, and was charged with sexual battery, BuzzFeed News reported.
Cherwinksi posted $2,500 bond on July 2 and didn’t respond to the publication’s request for comment.
“I looked at him and I said, ‘You don’t touch me, motherfucker!'” Holden told People. “I didn’t even think, I just reacted. I don’t know how I reacted the way I did. I’ve never done that before.”
Her supporters, however, cheered on her quick action, with one redditor writing, “Hot damn. She released the beast at the drop of a hat. That was satisfying.”
Others made puns of the situation, writing, “The only thing on this menu is ‘justice.'”
“Maybe a knuckle sandwich too,” another replied.
You’re right on time, Sis!! Let this be an example and case/point for those who first don’t believe this happens and next anticipate what our responses will be when you do https://t.co/YONfv9yqzH
— BlissBae (@btweet2all) July 19, 2018
“All that I want from my experiences is for women to know that it's okay to stand up for yourself.” #EmeliaHolden Great take down. Why do some men feel that this behavior is okay? It’s not. https://t.co/4039s0PQiu
— xpiredsodapop ➡️ BGG Spring ‘20 (@xpiredsodapop) July 19, 2018
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One redditor, user BaldylocksAT, commented on the thread that they work at the restaurant, and characterized the groping as “just another Saturday night.” They went on to write that gropings happen all the time, and that they had just installed cameras in the facility, making Cherwinksi the first groper to have been prosecuted.
“It is what it is. There are trade offs. Money is pretty damn good, and we don’t have to kiss customers ass. We get to play whatever music we want, wear whatever we want, we don’t get crap about our tattoos, and we’re all friends,” the redditor wrote about the restaurant after another commented that the prevalence of groping is awful. “There are a Hell of a lot of worse places to work.”
The redditor went on to say that employees have physically responded to drunk customers before, but “never for a situation quite like this.”
“[Staff is] sober(ish, mostly, kinda sorta) and [customers are] drunk at least 95 percent of the time,” they wrote. “Also, the cops know this business and area. We’ve been here over 25 years, they know we’re too busy working to start shit for no reason.”
Holden told People that she felt it was nice to know that her action has empowered other women.
“I’m not glad that it happened, but I’m glad that it’s had such a positive outcome,” Holden said. “I’m glad that other women can see this and know that you can stand up for yourself. You also have the right to wear whatever you want without having to worry about being groped.”