The Key To Progress

, , , , | Right | July 26, 2019

(I have been managing a key shop since 1970. When I started, all the shops — I work for a chain — were managed either by retired hardware workers or retired locksmiths, all men. They hired high-school or college students to work part-time, again all men. After a while, one of the part-timers that was there when I took over quit and it was time to look for a replacement. I took applications and did interviews and I hired a female student. She was the only woman out of 40 shops with a total of about 120 employees. The managers of the other shops thought that I was nuts and would drive from their shops when she was working to pretend to be customers just to see a woman cut keys. The following happened often when we worked at the same time. A customer comes in:)

Female Coworker: “May I help you?”

Customer: “I would like two of this key and one of that key.”

(She starts to look for the key blanks to make the keys.)

Customer: “Wait, what are you doing?”

Female Coworker: “I am looking for your blanks so I can cut your keys.”

Customer: “No! You are just a girl; you can’t make keys. He has to do it.” *pointing to me*

(I have been making keys for several years while my assistant has been doing it for six months, but the customer does not know this. I am three years older.)

Female Coworker: “Okay. Here, you try to do this.” *hands the keys to me*

Me: *to female coworker* “I think I know this one, but can you help me find this one?”

Female Coworker: “No, that is the wrong blank use this, and the other one is that one over there.”

Me: “Oh, thanks. They all look so similar.”

(I step up to the machine and she stands next to me pretending to watch what I am doing.)

Me: “So, the customer’s key goes on the left?”

Female Coworker: “Yes, that’s right. But you have it in the clamp too far; move it out a little.”

(This goes on with more instructions from her for about a minute until…)

Customer: “Oh, forget it. Just let her do it.”

(She cut the three keys in about 45 seconds and rang up the sale. The customer left. Five customers later, we did this again. Fortunately, times have changed in the last forty years and I can no longer play this game.)

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