So, you know that moment when a salesperson totally ignores you and talks over/around you and then only offers to shake your spouses hand at the end of the conversation? If you are guy, I’m pretty sure the answer to that questions is a big, fat ‘NO’. Cuz that doesn’t happen if you’re a dude. But, if you’re a chick, I’m pretty sure it’s happened more than once. Let me be clear here: I’m not trying to be sexist or feminist or anti-dude-ist…I’m just being real. This is a real thing that happens. It happened to me just the other day.
See, we just bought a travel trailer. Now, this is not a new transaction for us, it’s the third such trailer we’ve bought so we’re pretty familiar with the process. And I’m pretty familiar with what transpired over the salesman’s desk. Picture this: me and Mike, and our older two kids, Kate & Wyatt, sitting in the tiny salesman’s office to sign the papers on this trailer. It’s pretty nondescript, with a cliche’ car clock on the wall, golf bag business card holder, barely healthy plant in the corner, and a surprising lack of both seats and pens for an office that was created for people to sit and sign papers.
We began the process of signing over our souls and finances and, in a totally unoriginal move, the salesman directed all of his conversation and questions to Mike. At first, I didn’t think anything of it….it happens often enough that it’s not even worth my effort to get irritated. Besides, the guy was an equal opportunity ass, pissing off Mike by talking to him like he didn’t know anything about trailers. So, I waved it off. At first. But as things went on it began to get more and more annoying. So it really wasn’t a surprise when, once we finally finished signing the plethora of papers, the salesman pushed back his chair, stood, reached across the table to shake Mike’s hand, and then stopped and dropped his hand. He didn’t even look at me. Didn’t even acknowledge me….
….”Huh.” thought I, as I realized he was not going to shake my hand. Hadn’t I just signed my name on all those papers, right next to my husbands? Hadn’t I just completed my own ‘work history’ portion of the application, complete with the amount of money I contribute to our mutual checking & savings accounts? Perhaps he didn’t read that part. Perhaps he didn’t realize that the payments we’d be making on this trailer would be coming out of our mutual incomes. Perhaps he didn’t understand that women can own property in this day and age, instead of being property. Perhaps he failed to understand that I do more in this relationship than make dinner and children. Or perhaps he didn’t have a clue that its fucking 2015 and, even though we still don’t get paid the same (and that’s a whole other post), we females are actual human beings who have brains and opinions and bank accounts and he’s just an antiquated asshole. “Huh.”, I thought again as I considered all of these things at once. And then I looked him in his annoying little face, reached across the table, and made him shake my hand. He looked slightly startled. Mike just chuckled. I felt both annoyed and vindicated.
The only good thing to come from this whole situation, because I’m sure my indignant handshake did nothing to change that salesman’s attitude, is that it was in front of one of my daughters. And I had the opportunity to tell her, and more importantly show her, that when a person treats you like you are not equal, it’s OK to assert yourself as such. You do not apologize, you do not sit idle, you do not allow yourself to me marginalized. You shake their damn hand.