Home Improving Attitudes

| Working | August 8, 2013

(I am a young woman, and have experience and training in construction and interior design. I am more than used to going into home improvement stores and being treated like a ‘silly woman’, talked down to, and treated like a child. My husband and I have recently moved to new town, and I want to do some work on our house. I head down to the local home improvement store, preparing myself for a headache of sexism.)

Male Employee: “Hi, welcome to [store]. How can I help you today?”

Me: *curtly* “Hi. I’m looking for some canvas drop-cloths, four-inch eyehooks, a six-foot outdoor extension cord, and extendable closet poles.”

Male Employee: “Well, I’m happy to help! Right this way.”

(The employee patiently shows me around the store, asking me about my projects and move, and generally treating me like a human being. He answers my questions intelligently without being condescending, and provides excellent suggestions. After spending a half-hour helping me, he leads me to the registers.)

Male Employee: “Well, I hope we helped you with everything you need today. Come back soon!”

Me: “Thanks so much! And I have to apologize; I’m sorry I was a little short with you when I came in. I’m so used to being treated disrespectfully when I come to these stores.”

Male Employee: “Hey, it sounds like you know your stuff. I see no reason to treat you otherwise.”

Me: “I do appreciate that. I can’t tell you how tiring it is to be coddled and second-guessed in the home improvement store just because you’re a woman.”

Male Employee: “No, I understand! See that woman behind the counter?”

Me: “Yes?”

Male Employee: “That’s my mom. She’s the owner.”

(I’m never shopping anywhere else!)

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