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When Your Story Needs Some Padding

, , , , , | Friendly | September 15, 2017

(It’s a rather dull day, and a well-built, muscular-looking man with an incredibly thick, long beard is checking out at the register in front of me. I quickly, but covertly check him out. As I begin perusing the magazines, a large projectile flies into the middle of my carefully arranged order, knocking over a soda and nearly hitting me.)

Me: “Hey! What?” *looks down, and sees a package of pads* “What the f***?”

Customer: “Oh, geez, yeah, that’s mine… girlfriend’s!” *grabs pads and puts them back in his order* “Sorry.”

Me: “Uhm…? What?”

Cashier: “Your pads were in his order! Men don’t need pads!” *scans the man’s remaining items*

Customer: “WELL, I DO! For my… for my girlfriend!”

(I notice that the man is angry, yet nearly in tears at this point. I think, “wow, he must really love his girlfriend!”)

Cashier: *takes the pads, and throws them directly at me this time*

Me: *bats pads away, angry now* “These are NOT mine, and it’s not your business what he’s buying, or who for, as long as it’s legal in this state and sold by this store. If you insist on not ringing up his order completely and accurately, we will need a manager.”

Customer: “Thank you.” *to the cashier* “See? She gets it!”

(At this point, he lifts his arm in a motion towards me, and I see a familiar strip of cloth under his exercise shirt that looks like an undershirt, with a tag from a popular brand. He notices me see it, puts his arm back by his side, and tenses up.)

Me: *I nod* “Sir, I’d like to buy these supplies for you. May I?”

Customer: “I, uh… yeah! That’s incredibly kind. Thank you!”

Me: *removes the divider between our orders, and turns to the cashier* “Ring this up too, please.”

Cashier: *scoffs* “Buying stuff for a dude? Really? Gotta be THAT feminist today, huh?”

Me: *unperturbed* “Yes. Why wouldn’t I?”

Customer: “Thank you! I… you really are… thank you.”

Me: *smiles at him* “You’re welcome.”

Cashier: *scowls and makes random misogynistic and angry comments, barely loud enough to be heard, while furiously ringing up our order*

(As we’re leaving, the man holds the door open for me. We get to talking while walking to our cars, and I admit that I bought his groceries just so I could talk to him for a bit longer.)

Customer: *leaning against his car, and crossing his arms* “So, how do you know? It may be that I’m paranoid, but I swear I heard you say ‘sir’ a little more emphatically back there.”

Me: *laughs* “Oh, yeah, I might have. Sorry. My brother wears the same brand of binder.”

(We had a long conversation that ranged from LGBT rights to the pain of Mother Nature’s monthly endurance tests, during which I find out that he’s new in town. Even though I’m cis, I knew of and recommended a network of doctors, including a gynecologist who mainly sees male patients, and a group he could join. I also texted my brother to see if I could give him his number, and my brother agreed. They ended up becoming really good friends!)

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