So, since noticing the pattern of sexist conversations I've encountered lately, in an effort to start ridding the male population of their sexist views, I have made a conscious effort to present a decidedly overly-feminine consumer image when engaging in typically more masculine shopping situations. I put on a reasonable amount of makeup, but make special efforts not to OVER-do my face or hair. I sport more girlish clothing, so that there is no mistaking that I care about my appearance, and there is no mistaking me as anything other than decidedly, solidly female. I do own a few skirts, dresses, flouncy tops, and one or two shirts with reasonable, (read: tasteful) sequin embellishments.
Now, to be clear, we're not talking anything over the top... I'm not going to Home Depot in a ballgown, nor do I own anything "bedazzled" with jewels. We're not talking flashy, whorish apparel. But I admit to deliberately playing up the feminine factor for personal research purposes.
I peruse the aisles of the auto parts stores, or head to the hardware department, and deliberately don't ask for help if I don't need help. Basically, I will go in, get what I need to get, and browse if I feel like browsing, but I don't make a big production of looking like I'm helpless and need guidance. Now, having worked in retail, I understand that many of these retail establishments have established customer-service-based policies that their employees are directed to follow. (Basically, if the workers aren't actively engaged in a project, and they see a customer who is not actively being assisted by another worker, they are generally at least supposed to ask if the customers need help with anything. I get it... That's why those interactions don't count... Unless the worker persists after I have waved them off... THEN IT TOTALLY COUNTS.) The latter is exactly how my most recent insulting interaction went.
While mowing my lawn, I found that the blade was not cutting to maximum efficiency... Seeing as I don't know any tinkers who sharpen mower blades instead of simply advising folks to just buy a new one, I just went to buy a new one. (Blade, not lawn mower.) I went to the establishment where the lawn mower was originally purchased. (The hardware department of a large department store.) Seeing as I had just wrapped up mowing the lawn, I was wearing nothing more feminine than flip-flops, jeans and a more female-friendly-cut v-neck T-shirt. I walked straight over to the area where the mower blades were kept. I grabbed the blade that I needed for my specific mower. I proceeded to walk away from the display and towards the nearest open cash register. Before I could make it more than three steps, a rather rotund store employee stopped me... The following is a very real transcription of the encounter.
The rotund male simpleton approaches all too ready to lend an unwanted helping hand.
"Can I help you find something?"
"No... I just needed a lawn mower blade. I found the one I wanted, now I just need to find an open register."
"Oh. Well, are you sure it is the right one?"
"Yes. I am sure. I double-checked the part number and everything."
(Note: the encounter should have ended right then and there, but judging by the next statement, it rapidly became clear that this guy was gunning for total evisceration.)
"Well, are you really sure? That particular blade isn't a big mover."
"Yeah, I already told you I was sure. Was I not convincing enough with my delivery?"
"Uhh, well, you know that's for an electric mower, right?"
"Well, call me crazy, but I figured it would work just fine for me considering it is the right size AND exact part number for what just so happens to be the electric-powered mower I use to lower the height of the grass growing in the little rectangle I call my lawn."
"Oh, so you have an electric mower?"
"Pretty sure I just said that. I mean I tried just throwing down more dirt to make the grass just look shorter, but I found that this is much more cost-effective, and I don't have to keep elevating the flower beds."
"Well, it's just that most people use gas mowers."
"And between rising gas prices, the push to go a little greener, and attempting to avoid unnecessary carbon emissions, I am pretty sure that my electric-powered model, while a bit of a hassle is equally effective at removing the unwanted portion of my lawn. I still have a rotary mower with no power supply at all, too... I tried getting a goat, but being inside the city limits the neighbors complained, plus he snored too loudly in bed."
"Well, a goat wouldn't really be all that effective at getting a consistent length over the whole lawn."
"And I see you don't understand sarcasm. Don't sweat it. It's new."
(Around this time, what appeared to be a well-intentioned trainee approached from stage left. Based on my interaction with this second fellow, I think he was prime management material by comparison to that first doofus who had no business interacting with anyone... EVER.)
"Are you ready to check out, or is there something else we can help you find?" says the trainee.
"No, I think I'm ready to leave this establishment."
"Do you need any assistance with this product, or need help installing it? We have a service department here!"
"Well, thank you, that is the most constructive thing that anyone has said to me since I got here. I think I can handle the installation, but I admit that before I came here, I was having some trouble removing the old blade."
Doofus really thought this was his opportunity to shine!
"WELL... just remember, it is 'righty-tight-y, lefty loose-y' and you should be fine."
"Yeah, thanks. I know how nuts and bolts work. My problem is that the locking nut won't turn without also rotating the drive shaft, and my crescent wrench doesn't fit between the blade and the underside of the mower when attempting to grip the shaft... and there is no way to lock the drive shaft on this particular model of mower."
"Oh... UHHHH...." Doofus said while vacantly staring at my chest.
"Yeah, see, in addition to knowing which way to turn a nut, I also know those fancy mechanical words." I sharply retorted to Doofus, my words dripping with derision and disdain. Turning my attention to the more helpful trainee, I asked, "Any ideas for that particular problem?"
"Oh, well, if possible, try pinching the drive shaft with some pliers, maybe needle-nosed pliers if standard pliers won't fit. If that doesn't work, or you can't fit any kind of pliers under the blade, I'd say bring it in to the service department and see if they have any ideas."
"Thank you. That was the least insulting thing anyone has said to me since I entered this establishment. You have been very helpful... I hope that if you are on commission that you get credit for this sale."
"I'd be happy to ring you up right over here."
The trainee and I walked to the nearest register, with Doofus in tow, most likely to 'supervise' the trainee in the actual monetary transaction.
I got the new blade home, managed to get the locking nut off unassisted, and installed the new blade. Since then, my lawn is looking as lovely as ever... No thanks to Doofus the incompetent.
And while I have no doubt that Doofus is incapable of learning from this experience and checking himself before speaking to, and thus insulting ... well... ANYONE, I can only do my due diligence to present valuable learning opportunities whenever possible.
...And people wonder why I walk around being so continuously perturbed so much of the time.