Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chauvinism is Alive and Well

I’ve worked in food service for thirty-five years. In all those years, I’ve managed to ignore the male dominance of the field .  I’ve gone about doing my job, sometimes the only female among a group of males…and I always managed to, eventually, command their respect.  In time, I believed that old “the man is in charge” model had become a thing of the distant past.    
Oddly, in the past two weeks, I’ve been slammed in the face by two separate incidents of…let’s call them inaccurate assumptions based on the “boss=male” model that, obviously, still rears its ugly head in our society.  And it really pissed me off.
On Monday, I went to answer the phone at the café at about 12:30, the middle of our typically busiest hour of the day.  “Hi!” said the male voice on the line.  “I’m calling because I’d like to make you aware of a great marketing opportunity in Columbia County…” 
“Ummm…this is a restaurant, and we’re in the middle of our lunch hour, so this is a really bad time to call…” (I hate telephone solicitors, and I don’t even try to be nice or polite; I just put it all out there and then hang up.)
“Well,” says the guy, “Usually The Boss is around…”
Oh. My. God.  You didn’t just say that.
“Uh—I AM the boss.”  And I slammed the phone back into the cradle.  
I only wish I had thought to pleasantly ask him who he represented so I knew exactly with whom I was NEVER going to do any kind of business under any circumstance.  Ever. 
Today, this little old man toddles in the door of the restaurant, walks halfway to the counter and asks about soup.  My counter girl tells him about our soup and the prices.  He actsas if we're asking him to pay an arm and a leg.  But he pays for a bowl.  And then he says he doesn't want the cheese bread that comes with it.  He only wants crackers.  Counter girl takes him his bowl of soup, and he sets about eating it.
In the meanwhile, my Sysco rep has arrived, looking all clean-cut and business-like and MALE in a shirt and tie.  He and I are behind the counter comparing two different brands of napkins when the little old man walks up to the counter with a pack of crackers in his hand.  And I say, “Do you need something else?”
And he says, “Yeah, I want to talk to him.”  Looks at my salesman and says, “Did you ever think of getting better crackers in here?”
Sysco rep and I look at each other, momentarily at a loss, and then I say, “Well, this man is just a salesman.  If you want to talk to the boss, that would be me.”  Then Little Old Man goes on a little old man tirade about how we need to get Premium crackers.  These crackers (house brand of my old grocery supplier) are no good.  He’s surprised we don’t give them awayfree.  Okay, let’s forget the inanity of the whole situation.  And the fact that we DO give the crackers away free.  The point is he continued to address my salesman as if he were the one in charge…  AUGHHHH!
I feel like I have somehow fallen through a time warp back into the sixties…

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