The one about words

CVS 10:00 AM. I’m waiting in line to pay for my shampoo. There are 3 other people behind  me. The bank of check out counters are right in front of me. The sign to my left says “Form one line and wait for next available register.” The man, about 6 feet tall 40 years old swaggers up pauses for a split second next to the rest of us and then proceeds to move directly behind the person paying at the register. I gently clear my throat and say “Excuse me, but the line actually starts here.” He turns giving me the dirtiest look and responds “Oh, sorry” the tone making perfectly clear that he really isn’t sorry, but he moves to the back of the line so who cares. Less than 10 seconds later a second man approaches the line and realizes there are 5 people standing in line. He speaks to the first man “Is this the line?” The first man responds “Yes” and then raising his voice a little bit louder to make sure that I can hear says “And you better not try to cut because the line police will make sure to correct you. Because ladies ALWAYS have to be first I guess.”

I turn back and give him my iciest glare but before I can really get into it it’s my turn to pay. I finish my transaction and start to leave. His words follow me out, “Great! now how are we going to know how to stand in line?”  By the time I get to my car I am shaking with anger and reminding myself over and over that I absolutely cannot go back in there and give this jerk a piece of my mind. This is not the worst thing that has ever happened to me. This isn’t even the worst time I’ve been harassed by a strange man. But for some reason this time I am almost boiling over the rage of how we use words to take power away from each other. In two sentences I move from a person concerned about being polite, to a bitchy control freak who sees her job as being the person who keeps everybody else in line. I sit in my car for a few minutes waiting to calm down and I think about what could have made that situation different. If only I was older, bigger, or stronger. If only I was a man the size of my father. He probably wouldn’t have had the guts to speak like that around him. And I’m tired. I’m so tired of it.

I’m tired of the double speak.

to a woman “You’re so bossy!”

to a man “You’re so decisive!

to a woman “Whoa calm down, you’re making a big deal out of nothing.

to a man “Wow you’re really upset. This must be an even bigger deal than I thought it was!”

to a woman “You’re such a control freak!”

to a man “You know exactly what you want and you go after it!”

to a woman “Don’t be a show off.”

to a man “You have so much confidence!”

to a woman “You’re being a bitch.”

to a man “You’re the man!”

to a woman “Wow! Why are you angry? Calm down!

to a man “Wow! You’re so passionate!”


I’m done.

No more.

Telling someone not to cut in line doesn’t make me a bitch. Being decisive, knowing what I want and asking for it does not make me a bitch. Don’t speak to me like I’m a child. I’m not. Don’t mistake my politeness for timidity. Don’t mistake my silence for fear. I’m not afraid of you. I’ve just decided you aren’t even worth my time. Trying to get through to you would be like screaming at wall asking it to move; worthless. So, go ahead and say what you want. I’m moving on. And you’re moving to the back of the line.

This entry is very raw and I freely admit pretty righteously angry. Have any of my readers dealt with this feeling? This feeling that an aspect of your personality is being demonized simply because of your gender? What did you do to cope with it? See below for a really great commercial that also captures what I’m talking below. Leave your thoughts in the comments!


4 thoughts on “The one about words

  1. Nico says:

    Legit, I would have totally been like, “Oh, honey, it would be a lot easier for you to know how the line works if you were able to READ. Don’t worry, though, they have classes for that.”

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