Tag Archives: Home Depot

Don’t Be An Asshole

3 May

Last Thursday night I was, as I am every Thursday night, behind the stick of the bar in which I work.  It had been one of those days.  Specifically, it had been the day that I was harassed by someone in, and on my way home from, The Home Depot near where I live.  I was not in the mood.  But, in an effort at being professional, I tried to put my day’s anger out of my mind.  After all, it wasn’t the fault of my customers that some asshat in an SUV had stalked me through a hardware store and then tried to give me a ride home.  The night went along more or less without a hitch…until about 3:15.  We have this customer who comes in after his restaurant closes most nights of the week. I find him incredibly annoying.  Also, weird.  Annoying and weird.  But as long as I ask him how his night went, give him the 5 tastes of beer he wants and then the actual pint he decides upon, everything is more or less okay.  I try not to talk to him much but to be pleasant when do.  Generally he only stays for one or two, generally he is gone by 12:30 or so.  This past week was different.

He, I’ll call him Daniel, came in at the usual time with a few of his coworkers.  They were celebrating the return of one of the other employees of the restaurant who had been injured the week before.  We were all happy he was back at work and smiling.  Daniel had his customary two beers and then the third.  After the third beer, about 2 1/2 hours after he originally showed up, he decided to go home.  I was happy.  Then, 15 minutes later, he was back.  That is never a good sign.  Generally I find that people who come in late night looking for that one last drink are the most problematic of them all.  Sometimes you don’t know how much they have had and that last one puts them over the edge.  Sometimes you know how much they’ve had but, since they have been there for awhile and you know them, you feel a little bad cutting them off even though you know you should.  You don’t cut them off and you always, every single time, regret it and swear next time that happens you’ll do it.  But then it happens again and you don’t.  Vicious cycle.  Anyway, I have no idea of what this guy’s tolerance is whatsoever.  I only ever see him have one or two.  But I knew when he walked back in the door that this was the drink that was going to do it.  He ordered a Guinness.  With a 4.2% ABV, I figured this was a safe and smart order.  He started asking my coworker a question.  She said she didn’t want to talk about it.  Then he did the thing which I find that men often do:  he asked her again.  Again and again and again.  He phrased it differently.  Tried to guess the answer.  Over and over and over.  Finally she, and I, had had enough.  It was my bar – she was barbacking – so I decided to step in and ask him to drop it.  As I see it, as a bartender, it is my job to make sure that my clients and coworkers feel comfortable and safe and not annoyed.  He argued with me, told me he wasn’t talking to me, that I interrupted.  She fled to the bathroom, I walked away to the other side of our very long bar, leaving him alone.  A few moments later a song came on that sounded more appropriate at a funeral than in a bar, so I walked down the other end, past Daniel, to skip to the next one.  He started up with me again.  I ignored him.  And then, again.  Clearly this is a man who doesn’t take no, or drop it for that matter, for an answer. Finally, after another pointless back-and-forth, I got so annoyed by his condescension and accusatory tone that I asked him to finish his beer and go.  He said he could go somewhere else.  So I said fine, and I took his beer and pulled it in front of me, a sign that it was no longer his to drink.  He looked at me and said,

“Are you drunk?”

“No,” I responded, “but I’m fairly certain you are.  I’m working.  This is me doing my job.”

And then he said it, “go fuck yourself,” and he stormed off.

Now I have been a person far longer than I have been a bartender, but 95% of the times I have been told off in one way or another have been when I have been behind the bar.  And 95% of those times have been by men.  It’s something that I never get used to and something I completely don’t understand.  Being called a bitch.  Told I am “disrespectful.”  Informed that if a girl at my bar has a tattoo on her lower back that is exposed it is someone’s “right to take a photo of it,” that if she didn’t want it looked at she wouldn’t have gotten a tattoo there.  Being instructed to “smile, it’s not so bad.”  Having dollar bills hurled at me over a bar as if I were a piece of trash.  I am told by friends not to let it bother me, and it’s not as if it diminishes my feelings of self-worth or anything, but it still doesn’t feel good.  All I am doing is trying to create an environment that is safe and enjoyable to the majority of people in it.  If you are the one that is standing in the way of the obtainment of that environment, then I am going to ask you to stop and, if you don’t, to leave.  And your meager tips aren’t going to stand in the way of me holding you accountable.  I don’t need the money that badly and I don’t need you to come back.  I find that the people I stand up for, the people I step in for, make much more loyal customers than the drunken idiot I tolerate.  That’s the way it is.  That is my job. Don’t blame me for the fact that you misbehaved, blame yourself.  Go home and think about it.  Figure out why it is that you are not able to act like a normal person in the world. Alcohol is not an excuse and it’s not a license to do, and say, whatever you want, even though a lot of people think it is.  All you have to do is abide by one simple rule:  don’t be an asshole.  Now is that so hard?

My Feelings on Street Harassment

26 Apr

My feelings, as you may have already presumed, are not good.  A few weeks ago, my friend Creating Carrie posted about an incident of street harassment she experienced while on her bike.  In the end of the post, she asked her readers to respond to a number of questions which were posed to the victims, the by-standers, and the perpetrators of harassment.  I had been planning on responding to this post since she wrote it but just hadn’t felt compelled.  Until right now.

I have, earlier in my thus far short blogging life, posted about two different experiences I have had with different types of street harassment.  One was verbal, one physical; one I took action that resulted in punishment for the perpetrators, one I still fantasize about what I could have done differently.  (I will not share with you some of the more violent fantasies.)  Each situation is different, the levels of safety are different, the time of day.  Is the harasser in a car, on a bike, walking down the street?  Is he alone or with buddies?  My immediate feeling, despite the scenario, is always the same.  Anger.  Intense, intense anger.  Sometimes people tell me that I should just ignore it but, honestly, I find that those people are usually men.  They don’t understand.  One night, walking home from a bar that my boyfriend at the time owned and worked at, (if you’re wondering what time of day it was, what I was wearing, and whether I had been drinking then I have nothing to say to you) I heard behind me, on the sidewalk, the crunching of bike tires.  Even though I think it is rude to ride a bike on the sidewalk, going the wrong way no less, I decided to just swallow my words, move aside, and let the biker pass.  I was a few yards away from home and it seemed silly to start something right then.  And then, it happened.  The bicycle rider, who turned out to be a food delivery boy (I use “boy” not in any derogative way but because this person was, or at least appeared to be, a kid) grabbed my ass and rode off.  I was livid.  I yelled, of course, but bikes are faster than legs and I knew there was nothing I could do but stand there and seethe and feel completely violated.  I walked into my building and the tears came immediately.  Not because I was afraid but because I felt so dehumanized, so disempowered, so enraged.  Ignore it?  How?  I tell people this story and sometimes they laugh.  I wonder what the hell they think is so damn funny.

When was the last time I was harassed on the street, you might ask?  About 20 minutes ago.  Here’s how it happened.  I decided today would be the day I would start doing some of the things I have been putting off.  I used power tools and I hung up a mirror.  I felt powerful!  Self-sufficient!  I said to myself, “self, today you are going to hang up that pendant lamp that has been sitting in a bag, swaddled in bubble wrap, waiting to be mounted on the wall or broken by marauding kitties.”  I got my things together and walked to the nearby Home Depot.  I looked everywhere (and failed to find) the item that I needed but in the process I passed a middle-aged man who said, in a whisper in my ear right as he passed me, “hello.”  Honestly, unless you have experienced this you can never really understand how creepy that is.  To have some dude pass you so close that you can feel his breath as he whispers something at you is one of the most unnerving things.  It is a complete violation of space.  I ignored him and kept walking.  And then I heard an automated voice behind me so I turned around to see the source and, unfortunately, he turned around at the same time.  It was like that scene out of countless movies when two people pass, find each other attractive, and then catch each other looking back over their shoulders and that’s the beginning of the story of love.  Only I wasn’t looking at him, he was looking at me, and I found him repulsive.  I knew I had made a grave error.  I decided to wander around the Home Depot a while longer, weaving around the store, making sure that this man who probably thought he got some invite to conversation, or who knows what, wouldn’t see me purchasing the box of 100 garbage bags I had settled on.  I left the store.  I was still walking down the driveway, a mere 100 yards from the entrance of the store, when I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  It was the man, in his car, keeping pace with me and staring.  It seemed more than just a coincidence that we left at roughly the same time.

“Hey sweetheart, you need a ride?”

Sweetheart?  Really? “I’m fine.”

“Where are you going?  You look awfully nice.  I bet I could get you there faster.”

All I could do was look straight ahead and say “get away from me” as calmly as possible.  Luckily, he listened to my stern request and said nothing.  The entirety of my three-block walk home I was looking over my shoulder, worried that he had parked in front of one of the semis lining the street I was walking up, waiting to try his luck again.  Thankfully, he didn’t but the point is that he could have.  The point is that he, like the other men who have harassed me, made me feel unsafe.  It feels especially invasive when it happens so close to home.  As Creating Carrie so wonderfully put it,

A harasser’s desire to harass cannot be allowed because of some mythical safety. Guess what? Harassment destroys my safety. Physical violence is not the only way to make a neighborhood unsafe.

Is the Home Depot now on the list of places that a woman shouldn’t go alone?  Oh, there are so many men there, so much testosterone-inspiring power tools that a woman is just asking for it.  Fuck that.  Me looking over my shoulder in response to an unexpected sound is not an invitation.  I was born with breasts (not literally, but you know), and a vagina, and all the other things that come along with being female but that doesn’t make me any less human.  So don’t tell me to ignore it.  Don’t tell me I am only making it worse.  Next time you see a girl and want to say something, just don’t.  And the next time your friend or girlfriend tells you a story of harassment, don’t laugh it off or suggest she do something different, just listen.  Otherwise, next time I am harassed in Home Depot I might heed my friend Cherie’s advice and grab the nearest nail gun, axe, 2×4….because, despite what people may think, we know how to use these things.