But first, here's something that relates (a little bit) to my experience yesterday--
An amazing woman, Yvonne Brill, who was a pioneering rocket scientist before anyone knew how cool it was to be a rocket scientist, passed away recently, aged 88. The New York Times published a long and glowing obituary for her, as one might expect. And in the original piece, made sure to point out (right at the beginning, so that we would all understand how very much more important it was than the, you know, ground-breaking scientific achievements) how great her cooking was. Yup, Yvonne apparently made a killer beef stroganoff. Also, she somehow managed this feat, as well as the, you know, science, while being a super supportive wife and mother.
For some reason, woman all over the globe were a tad bit offended by the New York Times' intrepid obit writer choosing to commemorate Yvonne Brill's accomplishments in this manner. It's like all the women suddenly were over-taken by a need to be defined by their actions and not by their gender. Or their husband. Or their children. Can you imagine a world wherein a person can be called a "scientist" instead of a "lady scientist"? Apparently, that's just crazy talk.
Here is the Ottowa Citizen's obituary of Yvonne Brill. Good job, Ottowa Citizen! And here you can find an article about the New York Times piece that contains the texts of both the original version as well as the version that went up once the shitteth had truly hitteth the fanneth.
So, you may now be asking, how does the obituary of Yvonne Brill relate to my experience at work yesterday? (Actually, by now, if you're anything like me, you've already forgotten what you read at the beginning of this blog, right?)
Yesterday, (aka Easter Sunday, aka a former pagan holiday that celebrated fertility), I drove a coworker to quitting his job. Inadvertently. And I want it clear from the start, I don't like the guy. Haven't liked him from the moment he started. I found him patronizing, rude, a dash incompetent (and nothing irritates me quite as much as having to work with people who are bad at their jobs but make no effort to improve), and quite lazy. Now in real life, the life where I actually earn money to pay my bills and hypnosis is something I talk about in the context of therapy and not crazy fun erotic hijinks, I wait tables. Already a situation fraught with the potential to be disrespected by the clientele, people to whom I am paid to suck up in the hopes that they will reward me with a fraction of their hard-earned cash. I expect my coworkers to treat me with respect. After all, we're all in this together, yes?
So this coworker who quit yesterday, let's call him "Joe" (no, that's not his real name) likes to call me "girl" rather than by my name. Since he started, I don't recall him ever actually using my name, or any form of it. It's not like he doesn't know what it is, it's written on my shirt after all. And it's not a complicated, hard to remember name by any means. But to him, I am "girl". Yesterday, I had to work in a section with him, and run a large party of happy easter guests with him, a task that required us to communicate pleasantly with each other. I asked him before we started to please use my name, rather than calling me "girl" all day. He said something along the lines of "sure" or "okay"--and then proceeded to spend the next 3 hours calling me "girl", while I got more and more irritated. (And yes, part of the irritation was at having to do a lot of the thinking for our large party, having to explain to him that he actually had to physically go back to the table and ask people if they needed anything for example.) I finally asked him again to not call me "girl", and his response was spectacularly not cool.
"You need to relax." Quoth Joe. "You really need to relax. I don't know what kind of bad things are happening to you in your personal life, but you need to leave that stuff at home when you come to work. You are so negative. You just need to relax. That's all I have to say on the subject."
Um. What? I would have been perfectly willing to accept something along the lines of "It's a habit, I'm sorry I offended you, I'll try harder." Or even "It's a habit, I don't even realize I'm doing it, I'm sorry." Note the key element of apology in my dream scenario.
Next thing I know, he's in the office complaining to our Culinary Manager about how negative I am. Next thing he knows, I'm in the office repeating to our General Manager the conversation that Joe and I have just had. The GM basically told him to can it, to use people's names, and if he heard another complaint about it then Joe would get a written warning to go along with the verbal warning he was already receiving. (The GM was kind enough to fill me on this conversation later.) Joe told the GM that it was just a habit, that it didn't mean anything, to which the GM replied "And I'm telling you it's not a habit anymore."
You see, I saw Joe stalk out of the restaurant and thought he had been sent home. Joe's wife is pregnant, he needs the work, I felt bad, because honestly all I wanted was the apology. So into the office I go again, and hear about Joe's conversation with the GM. Turns out Joe up and quit on the spot. Walked out on Easter Sunday because it was so unfair that he should be expected to respect his female coworkers enough to use their names. I actually felt a little bad about him quitting...until I heard this:
"And I'm telling you it's not a habit anymore. You won't be doing it." My GM said to Joe.
"Well what's her name even?" Joe responded. "Am I supposed to call her 'Noelle', or 'Elle', or 'Ellie'?"
"Those are all variations of her name that people use, any of them would be fine." The GM patiently explained.
"Well I can't do that. I quit." Joe said goodbye to no one as he stalked back out to the parking lot on his last day of work.
WHAT. THE. HELL.
Now folks, I worked in the South of this fair country for just over 4 months some years back, and all the gents there (the ones who stereotypically would or should have been calling me "girl") managed to use my name. I have worked as a waitress for the restaurant that I am with for 13 years and have always managed to be called by my name. I call other people by their names, and defend people (like my friend who really does kind of look like Harry Potter) when people push too far with calling them things like..."Harry Potter". When I am asked to do something or change a behavior because it is offending someone I try my best to do it, and when I have hurt someone's feeling I apologize for doing so, even when I don't understand why their feelings were hurt. I own my actions.
What I want to know, Joe, is why (WHY?) in this day and age do you not realize that it is inappropriate to define people by their gender? Or their religion? Or their sexual orientation? Or their skin color? Or their weight? Or their ethnicity? Or their taste in clothes? People should be defined by their actions. If that means you have to get to know them before you can come up with a working definition of the kind of person they are, then good. Get out of the cave, or the box, or the crevice within which you have been living and learn.
Also, kudos to writer Brian Bendis of Marvel Comics for pointing out in the latest issue of All-New X-Men that "Lady Mastermind" was always a dumb name. After all, they didn't call her father "Dude Mastermind".