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The runners November 28, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in feminism, societal commentary.
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From the title, you might think I’m going to be talking about jogging.  Not so much.  Nor will I be talking about Logan’s Run.  Nope…I’m going to be talking about a type of person who annoys me.

I was reminded recently of a trip to Washington, DC.  I was there for a conference, and a friend who lived nearby decided to visit.  We weren’t sure where to go to dinner, so we met someplace and then grabbed a cab.  The driver gave a suggestion, and we went for it.

The restaurant was a very upscale ethnic place near Embassy Row.  After my friend and I were seated, I noticed something very strange about the wait staff.  I thought it was just me, but then, when our dinner was presented, it became obvious: they weren’t acknowledging my existence at all.  All questions were directed to my friend, and when I answered, they would wait for him to repeat what I had just said.  They wouldn’t look at me, they wouldn’t speak to me, they wouldn’t hear when I spoke.

The food was fantastic, but I left feeling a bit demoralized.  I’m sure my friend was sympathetic…but I think he was amused more than anything.  I can’t help but wonder what they would’ve done had I gone to the restaurant with another woman.  Would they have ignored both of us?

It’s easy to blow that kind of thing off when it’s a place you’ll only visit once or a fluke.  It’s harder to deal with that sort of thing when it’s someone in a professional setting.

Admittedly, I’ve not run into anything as overt as the experience at the restaurant, but I have run into a couple men over the years who simply have no clue how to interact with women colleagues.  It’s bad enough having a conversation with someone who stares at your chest…but it’s not much better when they refuse to look anywhere near you.  You wonder if they even hear you.

And then there are the times when you try to talk to them, and you get the feeling they’re running from you.  Literally.  You ask them a question, and the best response you get is a terse, one-word answer.  Maybe two, if they’re feeling dangerous.  As soon as they’ve muttered their answer while looking the other direction, they turn to leave.  They are done with the conversation, whether or not you are.

So these kinds of men are runners.  They run away from women.  It’s strange because the ones I’ve known have been married, so it’s not like they’re not around women at all.  They simply have no idea how to act around a woman who is not a family member or friend…and apparently it’s never occurred to them to treat a female colleague like the rest of their colleagues.

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1. GMP - November 28, 2011

Sigh. You have no idea how much the post resonated with me and got me all irritated. All these things happen to me too. Being ignored when I am out with my husband, colleagues running away after a terse answer (although I think the latter is pure snobbery, they don’t think I am worth their time, being all female and junior).
All I can say is your observations are accurate, you are not imagining these things, and I have no idea what to do about it other than try to brush them off because chances are they will keep happening, on and off, in the foreseeable future.

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mareserinitatis - November 29, 2011

I’m glad you said this, but it’s disappointing to know this happens to other women. On the other hand, at least I know it’s not me personally.

I’m starting to get used to it. It’s funny how I spent a while where I didn’t have to deal with this on a such a regular basis, but it seems like the past couple years have thrown me back into reality.

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2. GEARS - November 29, 2011

I’m not saying you’re making this up, I just can’t understand that happening at a posh restaurant. Every time I’ve been to one of those types of places, the waiter/waitress (tron in the gender-neutral serving world) has always asked the women at the table for their orders first and given them their meals first.

That’s why they have note cards at some of these restaurants or if you email them afterwards, generally the owner of the establishment will mention this to the waitstaff (in my experience).

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mareserinitatis - November 29, 2011

I don’t know if you caught it, but it was an ethnic restaurant. I suspect the behavior was cultural and/or religious in nature, so I don’t think complaining to management (as I believe one of the people who stopped by the table was the owner) would have done much to change this behavior. It’s the only time I’ve ever run into such behavior in a restaurant, though. Had it been any place else, I would have complained.

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GEARS - November 29, 2011

yup, that indeed changes things a little bit.

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GMP - November 29, 2011

I’ve had it happen in various restaurants, especially with female wait staff. I suppose they believe my husband will front the bill and is the one in charge of the tip, so they try to get in his good graces by fixating all their attention on him (they rightly presume that batting their eyelashes works better on a heterosexual man than a heterosexual woman). This has also happened a few time when I had lunch with a male colleague.
In these cases, my vile mood improves after witnessing their visible surprise when I pay for both my husband and me (after they have spent the whole meal ignoring me) or when the colleague and I end up splitting the bill. I will leave it to you to deduce if I am generous when leaving the tip in these situations.

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3. GMP - November 29, 2011

Of course, this is all likely quite different than the incident in the original post.

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mareserinitatis - November 29, 2011

You’re totally right – my sister worked as a waitress for a while, and that was exactly what she did. However, my brother-in-law was also a waiter for a while, and he would lay it on thick for the women.

But yeah, when I get that type of behavior, the tip goes down.

Of course, the best one was when we had an obviously gay waiter who was pretty much hitting on my husband (with me and the kids there). My husband hasn’t wanted to go back to that restaurant in a while. The winking was a bit much for him. 😀

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4. Funny about Money - December 7, 2011

If you had both been women, they would have seated you next to the bathroom.

Being a bitch queen from the 60s, if it were me I would write a dear-sir-you-cur letter to the restaurant’s owner. If it’s a chain, I’d find out who and where the CEO is and address it to him. And yes, you can be sure he’s a him.

The proprietor’s or staff’s ethnicity is irrelevant: when in Rome…

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