I’m a contact lens wearer. Recently, I received my yearly inventory of product from an online provider.
For whatever reason, they got the order wrong and I was saddled with having to navigate their replacement/return process.
The Neighborhood Proprietor:
“always fun to find someone who speaks Sarcasm as well as I”
We are fortunate in that we have a package shipping establishment in our hood. It’s super convenient for mailing, stamp buying, and the like. Bob, the proprietor, also uses the space to showcase local artists and craftspeople.
Oh, he’s also a nut about dogs and typically has a pack of them, in various ages, at various states of finding their forever home. It’s nice for those of us who don’t want a puppy of their own but certainly enjoy the shenanigans of other people’s dogs.
So, this past Friday I found myself entering his establishment with my box of lens rejects. Hardly anyone was on site at the time. I made my way to the counter and then realized that I had left my phone “somewhere” and I couldn’t access my email to send him the return label I needed. After a couple of minutes of dismantling my handbag and searching in pockets far too small for my iPhone 12+, I gave in to the notion that I had probably left it in my car.
I’ve had a fairly long friendly relationship with Bob for over 15 years. We are both wise-asses and it’s always fun to find someone who speaks Sarcasm as well as I. After a quick-witted remark about charging me some rental fee for the counter-space, he agreed to hold my box while I ran to the car.
“The line shuttered. You could feel the energy shift in the room.”
I was gone less than five minutes. But during that short time, the facility became quite crowded and by the time I got back, there was a line six people deep. I passed the line and approached the counter, to grab one of Bob’s business cards to get the email address I needed to forward him the return label. As I snatched one up, an older white man condescendingly drawled to me:
“Darlin’, the line is over here. You’ll need to get to the back.”
Wait. What? What did he call me?
And, without missing a beat, I turned my full attention in his direction and said, “I know, Grandpa, I was just getting an email address so I can send Bob something.”
The line shuttered. You could feel the energy shift in the room. One of the other patrons, who also happened to be a white male, made eye contact with me, smiled, winked, all the while shaking his head in acknowledgement.
The Darlin’ perpetrator continued muttering. “Why, yes I am a grandpa,” he slung back at me. Did this guy just not get it? Was he that clueless? Or, was he just playing dumb? The rest of the room knew exactly what was happening.
My Personal Sea Change:
“left wishing there was a mail order prescription to correct misogyny and condescension as well”
None of that really matters. What matters, at least to me, is that I am officially done with the social protocols instilled in me from childhood that have kept me silent and submissive for the greater part of my life. I no longer believe it is my responsibility to protect or coddle someone else’s feelings at the expense of mine or my integrity.
Once Mr. Darlin’ left the store, the patrons left behind breathed a collective sigh of relief. When I got up to the counter, I apologized to Bob for verbally smacking down one of his customers. He nodded his head at me and said, “What was he thinking? Has he been living under a rock?”
I know I am not single-handedly changing this type of individual’s viewfinder or sense of entitlement to speak to women in such a manner. As I have written in the past, time is taking care of this breed — rendering them extinct, eventually. But this one is for me and all the women out there who have been called “honey”, “darling”, “sweetie” or told to “smile” or “lighten up”. My wish is that we can all find justice in a moment where someone stood up and said “No, thank you. I will not be spoken to that way.”
I may need corrective lenses to see and navigate the world safely but now I’m left wishing there was a mail order prescription to correct misogyny and condescension as well.