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Ignore Me At Your Peril

Before my son was born, my husband (at the time) and I decided to put our incredibly busy lives on pause for a year.

I would have played the baby card years before.”

At the time, we owned and ran a boutique Marketing & PR Firm (Market Accelerate) in San Francisco. It was the crazy dotcom heyday and business was booming. Over one of our many ‘working lunches’, at the then Mission-based Slanted Door, I suggested to my husband (Tom) that maybe it was time to have that baby. He rapidly agreed to a year-long, around the world adventure. If I had known that little nugget, I would have played the baby card years before.

A few months later we were in South America. We spent three months on that continent and one particular night we found ourselves looking for lodging late at night. Copacabana, Bolivia is on the shore of Lake Titicaca. It’s a base for exploring Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna, islands with sacred Incan archaeological sites. And, we were headed there the following day. Typically, throughout our travels, we’d arrive earlier in the day so we never arranged for lodging ahead of time. For the most part, that worked well. This night, however, we ended up knocking on a few doors checking for vacancies. 

The Time Money Equation

Our time/money equation was up-ended. Ordinarily, it would be easy to throw money at a problem. Now, given the fact that we were traveling for so long our equation of time versus money was flipped. Incredibly price sensitive, we gladly gave up time to save a buck. Every buck meant more time on the road to us.

This particular night we were fatigued and cranky. Well, I was cranky for sure. We woke up the proprietor to ask for lodging. To our surprise there was a room. Then came the ‘how much’ conversation. Like I said, it was late and that room was staying vacant if we did not take it. 

The dance began. I am fluent in Spanish so I did the talking. Try and stop me anyway, right? I asked him how much and he literally turned away from me, made direct eye contact with my non-Spanish speaking, very white, husband and responded. 

Did I Mention I Was Cranky?

WTF? I was the only one in the room who could speak BOTH languages.”

I informed Tom of the price. His response was that it sounded pretty reasonable. I turned to the clearly misogynist hotel clerk and proclaimed: “He thinks that’s too much!”  He responded with a lower price. Once again, turning completely away from me and speaking ONLY to Tom. By this time, I could feel Tom beginning to get twitchy. He knew this guy was completely ignoring me and that it was ticking me off. WTF? I was the only one in the room who could speak BOTH languages. 

I repeated the new, lower price to Tom in English. Puzzled, he shared that he was ok with the original price; then, asked what was going on? I quickly shifted my gaze back to the proprietor and responded sweetly: “He still thinks that’s too much”. The price came down, again. I think by this round my husband had caught on. 

We grabbed the keys and went off to bed. Bright and early the next morning, we took off by ferry to Isla del Sol and never saw the clerk again. I’ve thought about that incident, every now and again, over the years. The proprietor never knew what hit him. He had no idea that I used his bias (that women are the property of men) against him. If for one hot minute I believed I could change his perspective on women, maybe, just maybe, I should have informed him the next morning as we left. But, I chose not to. Instead, secretly enjoying the ‘F You’ privately. And, the life-time of story telling at his expense. It doesn’t pay to ignore me!


4 thoughts on “Ignore Me At Your Peril

  1. Laura says:

    Jack, I really enjoyed your story. Though I’ve never traveled overseas, I feel that the type of attitude you encountered would be typical in Latin American countries. One thing my Abuelita told me when I was young was, never marry a Cuban man and I know this was one of the reasons.

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      Kuel Life says:

      Never marry a Cuban man…. I TOTALLY get that!!! I grew up with them and figured that out for myself. Glad you enjoyed the story. There were other ‘rough’ places I encountered as well… Egypt, parts of Africa….. But, hey it’s all a part of the journey and it helped me appreciate my home country.

  2. Akaisha says:

    When my husband, Billy, and I were first together, we spent 6 months in Europe. Billy is a trained French Chef, and we went to “The Old Country” to eat in Michelin Star restaurants in several countries. This was 1979. In all of the countries, I was overlooked as any equally-contributing human, and the conversation always was directed to Billy. This was paradigm shifting for me, and when I returned to my Beloved USA, I kissed the ground. What freedoms we have here! I had not realized that before. Thanks for your story, Jack!! I understand, believe me!

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      Kuel Life says:

      I know you do sister. I am sure with all the travel you have done in your lifetime that you’ve dealt with plenty of instances like the one I write about. It just makes us stronger, doesn’t it?

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