I was catching up on the feedly readly yesterday and read a bunch of Pop Culture Librarian posts, and this one really stuck out:
(I will wait while you go read. You should! It’s great: funny and awful and bizarre.)
Anyway, her post made me laugh, because a related thing happened to me! I know, surprising, right? It’s not like this stuff is a common occurrence or anything.
So, RELATEDLY: A. and I went to one of the local hardware stores to buy a big ol’ grandpa handsaw, with a big ol’ grandpa wooden handgrip with flowers carved up and down it and a gold coin embedded in the middle. (Seriously, that’s what we ended up taking home. I do not understand the gold coin thing, but it’s clearly meant to strike a chord with some handsaw shoppers. Maybe it did with us and we just did not realize.)
Anyway again, after we picked out that beauty, we wandered up and down the aisles, checking out the rest of the hardware stuff. I may or may not have mentioned it here before, but I love me a hardware store. Growing up my dad let me hang out in the garage and make all sorts of woodsy carpentry stuff with him. For comparison, A’s dad is a f’real self-employed carpenter and A. still did not do all the band-sawing and drill-pressing and radial-arm-sawing that I did. And then I worked in a scene shop in college, and I’ve bought most of our shared tools, and oh whatever, in this story I’m a woman in a hardware store, you know exactly where it’s going, so why I am rolling out all of my hardware cred?
Anyway the Third, we started looking around for a bird feeder hanger to affix to our balcony. I tracked down one of the employees and explained what we wanted. He looked at A. and said, “Well, how about an angle bracket?” And I acted like he was looking at me and said, “Sure, can you show us where those are?” Because (as the PCL mentions in her post) I am just used to that. Hey, right, over here, okay, back on track for the moment.
Eventually we figured out a solution while continuing in the vein of the guy asking A. questions, me answering, and A. following silently. The guy put my bulk bolts in a bag, handed it to me, and then turned to A. and said, “Sorry, man, I guess you’re out of the loop on this one. She’ll just have to fill you in later.” And he was genuinely sorry! Hey man, sorry I talked to your lady about her project without consulting you more because…well, it’s hard to put into words that aren’t completely offensive or full of false assumptions, but hey man, sorry.
And you know, I didn’t get mad until the next day? In the moment I was just rolling with it, like eh, now he makes joke about whether I know what a screwgun is, now I laugh a polite laugh, and finally I’ve got what I need, let’s go check out, woohoo! It’s like my brain steams into the what-is-most-efficient? track. I could roll my eyes or make a fuss, but I just want to get what I need and go. It’s selfish, really–while I have some sadly misplaced ingrained worry about making the dude feel bad because he’s reciting his rote, jovial sexism, it’s more that I just want to get my shit and leave. Yikes. But that’s what reminded me of the PCL’s post, hell, even Ginger Haze’s comics shops comic. That feeling of surprise, combined with one of near-boredom with getting the stereotypical response to the scenario of Woman Asking Questions in Hardware Store Whilst Walking About With Man. They might as well respond by pointing body-snatcher style and screaming GIRL GIRL GIRL GIRL ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT PROCEED WITH JOKE while their heads spin around. I mean, if we wanted to really standardize the reaction. Maybe hardware store employees could sign up for implants on a voluntary basis.
A.’s response, which was to pretend he was frozen and could not see, hear, or respond, was mostly borne of that same WHAT IS THIS WHAT DO I EVEN SAY HERE feeling. While the experience was annoyingly standard for me, it IS nice to see someone boggled by it.