Am I Being Overly Sensitive?

I just returned from lunch with a couple of friends. It was at a nice restaurant and the waitress was pleasant. As is the norm these days, she announced, “Hello, girls, my name is ________, and I’ll be taking care of you today.” Okay, I kind of hate the “I’ll be taking care of you…” phrase. It bugs me, but I can live with it since it seems that’s what servers are trained to say, but “girls”? Really?

I kept my thoughts to myself and gave our server the benefit of doubt – maybe she was trying to flatter us by calling us “girls.” Then she wanted to know what we wanted to drink. She offered, “Maybe you’d like to start off with Bellinis or Mimosas?” I’ve done my share of waitressing in my life, and I know restaurants make lots of money off of drinks, but here’s what bothered me. First, she assumed that none of us were working, when, in fact, all of us were on our lunch hours. Second, she didn’t treat the men in the booth next to us like that.

I’m really not a complainer, at least about things that are insignificant. And, normally, I would put this experience in the fairly insignificant category. I didn’t say anything to the server or to my lunch companions about my annoyance, because that would be even more annoying, but I started thinking about my daughters. Then I started thinking about the Wal-Mart case that goes before the Supreme Court tomorrow. A decision will be made about whether or not the women who worked for Wal-Mart can file a class action suit stating that Wal-Mart employment practices discriminate against women.

Maybe the server rubbed me the wrong way because of the context of the day.

But what about my daughters? Will servers assume that because they are dining out on a weekday that they don’t have jobs? She didn’t assume that about the men at the next table. Do we really still hold those old stereotypes about women? If you believe what the Wal-Mart women say, we definitely do. We know that women still make only about 80 cents on the dollar compared with men, even though most women work. And, most women do much better academically in college than men, so why doesn’t society recognize this?

As old as I am, I don’t mind being called a girl, but it felt a little condescending. She didn’t call the middle-aged men “boys.” Will my daughters, young women who will soon be out in the working world, or perhaps graduate school, still have to contend with a mindset that women are girls and men are men, and be treated and paid accordingly?

I’ll look with interest at what goes on at the Supreme Court. I hope the women win out.

Categories: Editor’s Blog