Was It Something I Said?

February 11, 2015

Maybe it was my blonde hair. Or blue eyes. Or baby blue fleece top. Or…..maybe it was my gender??

I haven’t been the recipient of that level of sexism in I can’t remember when… and while I’m sure I have been on the female end of sexism plenty of times in my life, was it ever that blatant?  Really, can’t remember a time, at least not in the last, say, two or three decades.

Here’s what happened. I went to pick up my car yesterday after having the tires replaced. Four new tires, an alignment, pressure readings.. all that normal stuff. Nice guy, the proprietor everybody in town seems to know–won’t name names–greats me utterly pleasantly. We exchange a couple of small town niceties then he presents me with my bill and this before-and-after tire pressure chart:


Before I say anything, he dismisses the chart as something I will not understand, “But Jim will,” he said, “he can explain it to you.”

I could hardly contain a smile (one of those subtle, slightly processing, did-he-just-say-what-I-think-he-said kind of smiles) and said, “I’m sure I can figure it out.” I quickly glanced at the chart, added it to my copy of the invoice, folded them both and put them in my purse. “Key’s in the car,” he said perkily, as if no insult had passed his lips.

We exchanged a round of thank yous and goodbyes and I took off.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I SHOULDA RIPPED HIM A NEW ONE.

But really? I was more amused than insulted. Admittedly, I was a little caught off-guard and not fully about my wits, but seriously, I was amused. There is absolutely no excuse for that comment (except maybe he’s been looking at that term thrust angle for far too many years). That he should know better is a ridiculous understatement. I mean, when was the last time a long-time Davis man, especially one in the service sector, said something like this to a Davis woman? Davis. Educated, evolved, modern, right?

Never mind the irony of a kinda smelly (in the way of tire mechanics), fairly unkempt guy with dirty fingernails, sitting behind the grimy counter of a tire shop telling an educated, retired executive that she might not understand a simple graphic.

He’d have probably received well some friendly feedback as to how women might find that comment offensive, because he seemed an affable, harmless guy. I probably owed it to him to point this out. I certainly owed it to my sistas, our community… indeed the world and the greater good. But it honestly crossed my mind that coming down on him would be cruel. It was so colossally ignorant a comment, and he was so guileless, he just seemed too easy a target. Fish, barrel, that whole thing. We felt a little mismatched; I didn’t want to be a bully. The comment was so out of line, I didn’t want him to feel badly for having been so clueless.

It seems perverse, but kindness seemed to dictate that I just let it go.

Because you know?, I’m not so strident these days. I am not easily insulted, I have nothing to defend or prove, I have zero need to put a guy like that in his place. Had I been just a little more present, I may have seized upon this as a teaching moment and offered up an instructive friendly amendment… but I was already walking to my car when the retorts began to form in my little blonde head.

So pretty much I just drove off.  And laughed about it for the rest of the day.

One Response to “Was It Something I Said?”

  1. blk4609 Says:

    Who owns it now? – laurie laurie.rollins3@gmail.com

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