Friday, my co-worker and now guest poster, Laura, came in to the office commenting about one of the first experiences she’s had where she felt mistreated because she was a female. This is her experience tackling getting her car serviced by herself for the first time.
I am very lucky as a female to be treated with equality. At 28, I am fortunate to say that they are very few circumstances that I have felt singled out or mistreated due to my gender — which is a statement many women worldwide cannot say. Maybe I’ve come accustomed to this feeling, or maybe my time was just up.
This morning was the first time I’ve gone to an auto shop alone. With my boyfriend out of town and my dad many miles away, I felt that this was something I could handle on my own, without a male escort. I was sadly mistaken. Having made the first appointment of the day, I found the garage — after getting lost and having no one pick up the phone in their office — and had to poke my nose around to find someone to assist me.
A man stuck his head out of a car’s hood, stood up and walked over to me. I said, “good morning” and told him that I was there for an 8 a.m. car service.
“Which ones yours?” he said lifting his eyes just enough to scan the parking lot.
I answered and asked how long the service would take. I had my book and yogurt in my purse ready to sit and wait.
He scoffed, looked me up and down and replied, “Girl, count how many cars you see around you,” he gestured to the lot, “and that’s how many hours you’ll have to wait.”
A little taken aback, I replied, “Oh, I just didn’t know if this was something I could wait for or had to drop my car off for — it wasn’t specified when I made the appointment.”
The man recoiled and immediately started up again with his previous statement, which started turning the heads of the other customers standing in the lot.
The man was like a coiled spring let loose, and the words just kept coming. He made me feel stupid, inadequate, and about one inch tall.
Being the composed woman I am, all I said was, “I’m leaving, never mind.”
I left feeling humiliated, angry and sad. While driving to work, I thought of a million other things I could have said or done in the moment, but felt like it wouldn’t have mattered. I thought how differently it would have gone down if my boyfriend or father had been with me. The mechanic, first off, wouldn’t have even spoken to me if a male were present. Whatever. But had he chosen to speak to me the way he did today when I was alone, there’s NO WAY my escort would have let him get away with his flippant attitude.
So, my skin’s thicker, and my attitude has changed. On to the next mechanic, and beware — I’m prepared.