Note: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and forgot to hit publish. Enjoy!
Tuesday was painful for a number of reasons. First of all, it was Tuesday, and I wished it were Friday. Second, it was rainy and humid. My new hairstyle doesn’t do well in that atmosphere. Third, I’d been covering for a coworker who was on vacation, and every project he’d ever touched since he started working for the company needed attention.
My evening perked up for a brief moment when I attended a networking event. I ran into some old friends and potentially made some new ones.
But the exit ruined it. The receptionist handed me a validation ticket for the parking garage.
Her instructions were simple. “Make sure you give this and your original ticket to the parking attendant.” Unfortunately, there was no attendant in the booth when I got there. I had to use a payment machine. It requested my parking ticket, which was unreadable.
After about 10 failed attempts, complete with flashing red error messages, I looked in my rearview mirror. There were at least 20 cars behind me. I put my car in reverse. Tired and embarrased, I moved too quickly. That’s when I heard the scraping of my side bumper against a concrete rail.
“Fantastic,” I muttered through gritted teeth as I waved appreciation to the driver who let me make a U-turn back to the parking area. The security guard for the building led me to a neighboring parking area, where an attendant made a call and assured me that someone would be waiting at my exit to raise the gate.
By the time I got back to my car, heat and humidity had taken their toll. I was tried and sticky. My feet hurt. My hair was half frizzy and half straight, which amounted to a whole mess.
There was a man reclining in a golf cart near the exit by the time I got there. I took a deep breath, set aside my bad mood, and rolled down the window.
‘Excuse me, sir, are you the person who is going to let me out?” I think I even managed a smile.
“Naw babe, I’m not here to let you out. You’re supposed to use the machine.” He pointed to the dreaded payment box.
Babe? WTF? For a second, I questioned if the heat caused me to hallucinate, but I knew it didn’t. I dropped my pleasant demeanor immediately.
After a long, tense dialogue that included a scowl, a nose flair, and a neck roll (all by me, of course), Mr. Golf Cart got on his walkie talkie to ask for assistance. The voice on the other end told him to raise the gate.
“Ma’am, I’m really sorry,” he said as he pulled an access card from his pocket and waved it in front of the gate.
I wanted to run him over.
By that point, I was no longer mad about the parking cards, my fuzzy hair, or even the scape on my car, which I’m sure only can be removed for the equivalent of two house notes. These things happen.
I was mad about the babe. Why did this dude think it was ok to call me that?
We’d never met. And, last time I checked, babe was not part of my legal name.
Sadly, this was not the first time this happened, and it probably won’t be the last.
Perfect strangers have called me baby, honey, sweetie, and shorty. Two guys once addressed me as “sexy lady” until they saw my pregnant belly. They then quickly apologized and told me to have a blessed day.
What’s worse is when women who stand up for themselves become the villains. When I was in college, a man waiting with me at a bus stop started asking me a zillion questions. I asked him to leave me alone. He got angry, and said that a pretty girl like me shouldn’t be so mean. Onlookers nodded in agreement.
Am I supposed to be flattered? I’m not. I’m annoyed. For some random person to call me anything other than ma’am or miss is totally unacceptable. I shouldn’t have to worry about how to respectfully exit these situations when I’m the one being disrespected.
I wonder if Mr. Golf Cart would have been more helpful if I had called him shorty?