Thinking Outside The Gender Toybox

, , , | Right | June 21, 2018

(A woman calls the store with a question about a return.)

Me: “Hi! How can I help you?”

Woman: “Yes, I was just wondering if I could bring an item in for return without the receipt?”

Me: “We accept most things for return without a receipt for store credit, but what’s the item?”

Woman: “Well, my little boy came to the store the other day with his grandma and he picked out a girl’s toy. Despite my telling his grandmother not to let him buy things like that, she let him, anyway. And he ripped into the box before I could take it away from him, so it’s slightly ripped on the corner. I wasn’t sure if I could still return it, since the packaging is damaged and I don’t have the receipt. Really, I just want to exchange it for an appropriate toy for a boy. Can I do that? “

Me: *slightly taken aback* “Uh, yeah, that should be fine.”

Woman: “Great! I’ll be in soon!”

(I end the call, shake my head in wonder, and go on with my day. A few hours later, the woman comes in to return the item, which for the record IS a popular, girly, pink toy, but it’s one that I’ve seen both girls and boys buy.)

Woman: “Were you the lady I talked to on the phone earlier?”

Me: “I believe so. You wanted to return this for store credit, right?”

Woman: “Uh, no. I want cash back for it.”

Me: “Oh. Err, I might be able to look up the transaction. Did you pay with [various methods of payment]?”

Woman: “No, it wasn’t me that bought it, remember? It was his grandmother. Also, it was his birthday money, so it would have been cash. But I know what time and day they came here; is that enough to go by?”

(It is, though it takes a long time and I have other customers, so a coworker comes over to help. The entire time my coworker is looking for the transaction, the woman is talking.)

Woman: “It’s hilarious that he keeps getting this stuff. He’s only in second grade, but keeps choosing these pink and purple girl’s toys no matter what I do! His grandmother is no help; in fact, she encourages it! The only thing I can think of is that he’s trying to impress the girls at school, and we just can’t have that, now, can we?”

(My coworker eventually found the woman’s receipt and returned the item. When everything was finally done, she ended up buying a cheap black and blue toy monster truck, making sure to mention how much more he’d like that toy than the silly pink one. I feel sorry for the poor kid.)

A Caveman Could Come Up With A Better Image

, , , , | Learning | June 21, 2018

(This happens in 2009. My school has invited speakers to talk about our options after school. You can either go to university, or do an “Ausbildung,” an education for a specific profession. The speakers start their presentation by talking about universities, how to apply, how to get financing, etc. The slide is illustrated with a cartoon image of a doctor. They then get to the part about getting an “Ausbildung.” The slide is again illustrated with a cartoon figure; this time, it’s a man wearing fur and holding a large club.)

Student: “Excuse me… Why is there an image of a Neanderthal on the slide?”

Speaker: *slightly flustered* “Well, we couldn’t find a different image, and we thought this might be funny.”

(And this is how you add to the stigma of non-academic professions. I still don’t get how anyone could think this was appropriate.)

Long Hair, Short Argument

, , , , | Friendly | June 19, 2018

(All my children have long hair through preschool. They look like Kurt Cobain or Bilbo the Hobbit or Robert Plant, and wear no clothes that could be gendered as feminine, by their choice. I have this kind of conversation with strangers so often for so many years that it has became a well-established ritual, usually with strangers in the street.)

Woman: “Oh, my! Your daughter is so well-behaved!”

Me: “Actually, he is a boy.”

Woman: “You couldn’t tell with long hair. Long hair is for girls.”

Me: “But you have short hair.”

Woman: *disconcerted* “Yes, but not all women have long hair.”

Me: “And not all boys have short hair. Moreover, he doesn’t wear dress. He wears blue jeans… like you. Are you a man?”

Woman: *realizing that crying “discrimination” would make her a fool* “I must go. Bye.”

Take Your Skinny Soy Mochaccinos Somewhere Else

, , , , , | Right | June 18, 2018

(I work in a small cafe in Los Angeles. My husband and I own it. I am working the morning shift and a rather upper-class-looking man comes in.)

Me: “Hello, sir! Welcome to [Cafe]. What would you like today?”

Customer: “I want the [drink that a major coffee shop has].”

Me: “Sorry, but we don’t make that.”

(He shoves a piece of paper at me, and it has instructions for creating said drink.)

Me: “Sir, I can’t make this for you. Sorry.”

Customer: “I want to speak to a manager.”

Me: “Sir, I own the cafe with my husband. I cannot make this for you!”

Customer: “Well, let me speak to your husband. Women are useless.”

(I am considering kicking him out, but I yell for my husband, who comes out from the back room. I tell him what the customer said.)

Husband: “Get out.”

Customer: “Excuse me?”

Me: “You heard him. Get out.”

Customer: “No. You can’t make me. I’ll call the police for harassment!”

Husband: “Get out, or I will assist you in exiting myself.”

Customer Behind Him: “Get the f*** out. No one wants to hear your stupid-a** comments. Go home to your sad little life.”

(He then grabbed the man by the collar and shoved him outside. He got free coffee.)

Reason Falls On Deaf Ears

, , , , | Right | June 18, 2018

(I waitress in a fairy upscale restaurant. Two deaf women are dining; they are using ASL — American Sign Language — to have a conversation at their table. I am called over by an older couple.)

Woman: “Excuse me. Can you do something about that?!*points at deaf patrons*

Me: “Uh, I’m not sure I understand you, ma’am. What do you want me to do?”

Woman: “Ask those two women to leave, or call the cops!”

Me: “May I ask why you want me to ask them to leave?”

Woman: “Look at them over there, throwing gang signs at each other! They’re obviously planning some illegal activity.”

Me: “Ma’am, those women are probably deaf. They are using American Sign Language to communicate. I assure you that those hand movements are not ‘gang signs.’”

Woman: *narrows eyes accusingly* “Maybe they’re in your gang, huh? You can probably tell what they are saying. I want to speak to your manager!”

(I fetched my manager, who spoke with the woman. My manager also told her that the two ladies were signing to each other, and that it was in no way gang-related. The woman demanded to be seated away from the women, and to have her meal comped. While we were able to move her to the patio, we did not offer the free meal as we had done nothing wrong. The couple stayed and finished their meal, and she tried again to get a discount on her meal for the “awful customer service” while she was paying. She left, saying she was never coming back. Good riddance!)

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