Tag Archives: rant

That Time a Lady Told me to Smile

7 Apr

I had a weird moment last night at work. It was this response to an interaction with this woman where I was like

Wow, Rebekah, you’ve changed!

but then at the same time

Ew, lady, aren’t we supposed to be on the same team here?

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to recount the story and then I am going to go ahead and address these two simultaneous reactions that I had to it. Ready? Break!

Part One: The Story

It is French Quarter Fest here in New Orleans. Anyone who has been here for any sort of fest at all knows that shit is cray. There are people everywhere. There is confusion. Costumes. Glitter. Music. Tourists. More zombies* than normal. It’s a whole thing. Not a bad thing, but a thing. To add to the drama let me inform you that I work in the French Quarter which, if your powers of deductive reasoning are on point, means that I work in the exact area where the French Quarter Fest is occurring. That means that my bar is busy busy busy.

I walked in last night at 5pm to a busier-than-average Thursday night. And the thing about a busier-than-average night in my place is that we have “steps of service.” The steps of service at the spot I worked at in Brooklyn basically involved getting drinks out as quickly as possible while avoiding the limes and clipboards that miffed customers could potentially hurl at your head. No joke. At this place the steps are more involved and less potentially dangerous. I am telling you all this just so that you know that getting people food and drinks at the spot I work at now is something of a process.

Alright so now imagine this. There we are during dinner on a busier-than-average Thursday night and all of a sudden me and one of my coworkers realize

Hey, why hasn’t any of the food we ordered come out? It’s been a minute.

And by a minute we meant like 45. We then come to find out that the printer in the kitchen has stopped working and they didn’t get any of the tickets. So this might lead one to ask ones self

Self, there is a full restaurant out there and yet there are no tickets coming through the printer. Has this city declared a moratorium on food or is something amiss?

But I don’t think anyone asked themselves that. Or maybe they did, I don’t know. But either way they didn’t keep the bar in the loop and we had two ladies on a 45 minute wait for a salad and some shrimp. Anyway, I was in the midst of discussing this fiasco with my manager when I heard from the other side of the bar a very curt and impatient

Hell-loooooooo.

I looked over to see a blonde lady staring at me with what I can only describe as crazy eyes. You know the eyes.

Me: Hi.
Lady: Gesticulates wildly to the space in front of her.
Me: What can I do for you?
Lady: Well, we just got here and….. (gives me a meaningful look that invited me to read her mind but really just made her look even crazier.)
Me: Here’s a drink menu. Would you like food also?
The lady looks at her husband and they share a communal huff and make moves to get up. I shrug my shoulders and take the menu back and go back to the conversation about the broken ticket printer in the kitchen which I was in the middle of having when she sassed me in the first place.
Lady: Smile.
Me: I’m sorry, what?
Lady: Smiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile. You would make a lot more money if you smiled. Mo-ney. Smiiii-llleee. (All the while she is using her hands to demonstrate what a smile the size of Texas might look like and staring at me as if I had somehow committed the largest offense ever.)

They then left. But not after telling me that they live in the city and would never be back to this restaurant ever again if their life depended on it. I shed a silent tear. And then I went back to doing my job. Meanwhile, all the people around this couple were shocked and could not understand what had just happened. I told them I also couldn’t understand it. They said they thought I was nice. I agreed. One guy said he thought they came in with a bad attitude. I said he was probably right. We all laughed and laughed. And then we carried on with our evenings, largely unaffected by the bad attitude cloud that had momentarily descended on the bar.

Part Two: I’ve Changed!

Have you ever had some big experience and then afterwards noticed a large change in yourself? This is totally stupid but when I came back from my year abroad I noticed that, as a result of the countless hours spent in various modes of transportation, sometimes for hours and hours longer than expected, I was completely unfazed by being stuck in traffic or being on long car rides. This is still the case all these years later. I used to get a little impatient but now I’m like

Eh. Whatever. I’m sitting here.

In the grand scheme of things that isn’t such a big thing but it certainly does make the amount of traveling I do significantly easier. AND I think it makes me a better car partner. So anyway, in the past if I had an experience like the one with the lady, I would have gone down this whole rabbit hole of emotion. I would have analyzed every single second of our interaction and tried to figure out what exactly I had done to cause her to behave like such an asshole. But sometimes, people are just assholes. Or, they behave like assholes in a specific moment for no real reason. And sometimes there is nothing you do to cause it and nothing you can do to prevent it and so your only solution is to shrug your shoulders and be like

Alright cool what’s next.

And that’s just what I did. I sort of figured if they wanted to be Bad Attitude Bears all around town that was on them and I certainly didn’t need to let it effect the rest of my night or the service I provided to other people. So, fuck ’em. I hope they went home and stewed in their own unhappiness rather than raining it down upon the rest of us people just out trying to have a good time or make a buck.

Part Three: Teammates? No?

I should have learned this already following the presidential election but a lot of white women suck. And beyond that, all us women are not on the same team. Okay, fine. But here’s the thing. Men tell me to smile a lot. A LOT. I’ll be walking down the street and hear some dude be all

C’mon, honey, it’s not that bad. Smile.

Or

You’d look a lot better if you’d smile.

I find that super offensive. It very well might be that bad. And maybe I don’t feel like smiling. But either way shut the fuck up my face is not your concern. Basically every woman I have ever spoken to about it also finds it offensive. The thing about it is I know a lot of women and none of them, not a single one, goes about life with a smile plastered on her face at all times. And I get it, work is different, especially when you work in service. You have to smile more. It makes people feel welcome and people who feel welcome have a better time and tip better. Yadda yadda yadda. The funny thing about it is that I smile at work a lot. I smile so much that some of the dudes in the kitchen call me sunshine. I smile so much that when the barback heard that some lady told me to smile he looked at me and said,

You? Jesus. I think you should smile less.

And so, yeah, I know we all don’t see life the same way but, come on lady! Get a clue! It’s like, I expect men to be condescending assholes and tell me how to live my life down to my every facial expression. I don’t like it but I expect it. I do not, however, expect it to come from a woman who has most likely had a similar experience and felt disempowered or spoken down to or whatever. It’s like, way to drink the koolaid, bitch. Way to just swallow, full stop, normalized sexism and misogyny and throw it in the face of someone 15 years younger than you because you didn’t get a menu and a glowing smile the very second your ass hit the barstool. And I’m sorry that I wasn’t willing to ignore your impatience and rudeness and discern exactly what you needed at that exact moment. I’m pretty good at my job but I am not a magician.

***

And with that, I must away. another 3 days of French Quarter Fest await and I have to do my facial exercises, you know, so I can smile more.

* Zombies, New Orleans style (n): zom-bie
(1) a. a will-less and speechless human (as in West Indian voodoo belief and in fictional stories) held to have drank too much on Bourbon Street and been supernaturally reanimated
b. the supernatural power of the Hurricane or Hand Grenade that according to voodoo belief may enter into and reanimate a dead body

From Fark to Rant and Back Again

5 Sep

Earlier this week I had a post published on Her Blueprint, the blog associated with the Global Fund for Women.  I am going to be writing monthly, and perhaps eventually twice monthly, so stay tuned!  I will try and post links here on FranklyRebekah for the few readers among you who are not my friends IRL (that shorthand makes me laugh, don’t judge me).  Anywho, I am incredibly excited and humbled by the opportunity to write in the company of so many talented women.  You should read all their blog posts. Such diversity of topic and perspective. I don’t know. It’s cool. I’m gushing.

For my first post, I wrote about a change in commenting policies recently announced by Drew Curtis, the founder of Fark.  For those of you who don’t know Fark, it’s a link-aggregator, allowing people around the Internet to post links, with funny headlines, to articles they find online.  The result is kind of hilarious.  I actually feel totally in the know about this particular site because back in the day my brother, Aaron, used to send stuff into Fark and I always thought it was really awesome when his article, with his very own title, went on the homepage.  My brother, the Internet-famous title-writer. Over the years, the comment section on Fark has sort of devolved into more of a bro-culture, with people making all sorts of disparaging comments about all sorts of individuals and groups of people, most commonly women. (My brother is not a part of these sorts of things because he is a nice and awesome guy.) As a result, Crutis announced that the mods over at Fark would start deleting comments if they belonged to one of the following three categories:

1. Rape jokes;

2. Calling women as a group sluts, whores or some other derogatory name;

3. Making jokes that say that women who were the victim of a crime were somehow deserving it.

Personally, I think this is a great move.  I know there are some people who are going to go on and on about their right to opinion and personal expression and all that other stuff and, okay, I see your point.  But I think it’s dumb.  There, I said it.  I think that going online and saying mean things about people for no reason other than your own amusement and the amusement of those you hang out with in cyberspace is dumb.  I think that intentionally, and oftentimes anonymously, going online to express thoughts, jokes and feelings that many people would never actually make if forced to do so face-to-face with someone else with the express purpose of getting a rise out of someone else is dumb.  And I think that people who believe this is an important part of the internet are, surprise surprise, dumb. I think I just insulted about half the internet.  Good thing those people don’t read my blog.

Maybe I should be a little more nuanced, and a little less childish, here.  I apologize to all the people who I just called dumb, that was not nice of me.  It also is not the way I like to carry myself as a Responsible Adult on the Internet.  So let me give this another go.  We have this attitude online that anything goes.  That is is a bastion of free speech.  That, quite literally, you can say whatever the fuck you want.  Honestly, in my mind, that is how the Amanda Todd tragedy happened.  Just a word to the wise, if you don’t want to spend the rest of the day thoroughly depressed, don’t read about Amanda Todd.  Also, definitely don’t watch the video she posted on YouTube about a year before she died.  I watched it once and cried for like an hour.  And another thing:  do not read the fucking comments under the video because I just read 3 of them and actually want to throw my computer.  Seriously, this is what I am talking about!

Cue the rant.

Amanda Todd committed suicide because of the degree to which she suffered from online bullying, which was then expanded to real life bullying as photos of her inevitably got shared by her tormenter with the student body of every school she went to.  She posted a video about her experience.  A year later she killed herself because the bullying didn’t stop.  And the people on the YouTube page, a page that could potentially be used to help avert others from following the same path, use the comment section to say she deserved it, that she is going to hell for killing herself, that obviously she was a slut.  And there is no thought about the fact that another young person who might be having a similarly terrible time of it could go on this page, watch the video in order to understand that someone else went through it, might read the comments to find some support and instead find people saying that this 15-year-old girl deserved to die and that she brought it upon herself.  I can’t even imagine how that must feel. Why would people kill themselves? Maybe partially because people online tell them that they, and people going through similar experiences, deserve what they get. It hurts my heart to think about the people, especially young people, who look online for support and help and are faced with a massive amount of just…I don’t know…hate. And anger. And victim-blaming.

So here’s the thing. I have been online bullied recently. I have the benefit of having this experience, if I have to have it at all, at 31-years-old. I also consider myself lucky in that I have a healthy dose of self-confidence. I don’t think I’m perfect, but I think I am a positive contributor to the world and most people like me. And the people that don’t like me? Fuck ’em. I don’t really care.  For that reason, when I get essentially called a loser online, it does not bother me. I laugh.  Because it reflects more on the person saying it than it does on me. But again, I am an adult. I have had life experiences. I have a supportive group of friends and a wonderful family. I have this blog, which I love writing. And I have my readers, who I appreciate immensely. For a lot of people, these things are not true. For young people, and especially young women, these unkind words can have a real and permanent impact. People are mean. Some of them do it for sport. Most of those that do are online. And the thing about it is that it is like a crowd mentality. Once one person starts, others follow. And all of a sudden everyone is spewing rape jokes, calling someone a slut, telling a young woman looking for help that the world would be better without her and once it is without her, that she is going to hell for her actions.

So, yea, back to Fark. Start moderating that shit. The Internet, as Drew Curtis said, has a real problem with women. The whole world, in my opinion, has a real problem with women. Just look at this clip from Jon Stewart about sexual harassment in the government if you don’t believe me. Oh, and also this one about catcalling. I think at this point that real life, and internet life, reinforce one another. If we are more respectful in real life, perhaps we’ll be more respectful online, and vice versa. So, thumbs up to Drew Curtis and for those of you who think this is a slippery slope into censorship? I say whatever. There are some things that simply shouldn’t be supported by web moderators and cruelty for sport is, in my mind, one of those things. It’s great that we can say (almost) whatever we want on the internet, but that doesn’t mean that we should. And until people get a fucking brain and stop being assholes and devaluing others, then someone should tell them to stop. Because, honestly, it is mean, and cruel, and inhuman, and entirely unnecessary.

Rant over.

Ugh

15 Jun

As you can probably gather from the title, this is bound to be an especially well-written post.  So I apologize in advance if this is just a whole big page full of word vomit.

Have you ever had one of those days where you’re jut like, “ugh, everything is just stupid.”  Well I have.  And I did recently.  It was yesterday. I don’t know where exactly it came from but I was on a walk to visit a friend over in Ditmas Park where she was pulling pints at some event or another for some local New York City food truck vendor.  At least I think it was a food truck vendor.  They all have food trucks these days, right?  And actually, the event maybe wasn’t really for the vendor, the vendor was just included in it.  I don’t know, I didn’t really care about the vendor or the beer, to be honest, I just wanted an excuse to go for a long walk and see my friend.  So there I was, walking, listening to the same damn music I have been listening to on all my walks recently and it just hit me like a ton of bricks…

…everything right now is just sort of stupid.

And then I had this really strong urge to just punch a wall or something.  But not like, a hard wall, more like some sheet rock or something.  Or, better yet, maybe some sheet rock that has already been munched on by some termites, assuming termites even eat sheet rock, so it’s not really all that hard.  What I really wanted to do was punch a not-so-hard wall so I had the pleasure of feeling really tough when my hand came crashing through the other side but without the downside of (a) bloodying my knuckles, (b) punching the wall and not actually having my hand come through the other side or (c) some combination of a and b.  I actually thought about all that for a good five minutes.  And that, friends, is part of the reason why everything is stupid because rather than busying my mind with fun adventures, or like problem-solving or, I don’t know, coming up with some semblance of a plan for my life which is sort of a mess, I thought about the ideal way to punch a wall, or something resembling a wall, so that my hand would come through the other side and I would feel like a super hero.  I actually thought to myself…

…well, everything else might be stupid but the one thing that would not be stupid would be me punching my hand through a wall and not getting hurt.

And then I promptly thought…

…get it together, Frank.

Like, seriously.

So here are some of the things that are stupid:

(1) My cat, Clark, has now remembered how fun it is to knock things off the shelves and so last night, at around 2am, he took it upon himself to knock every single can of his food off the shelf, one by one.  Crash.  Crash.  Crash.

(2) The hand soap in the bathroom ran out so I decided to replace it with Dr. Bronner’s and now it sort of looks like someone peed in the soap dispenser which is both funny but also sort of unnerving.

(3) I need a vacuum.

(4) I had a conversation with my friend on the phone and we came to the conclusion that the economy sucks, that our field is a mess and I had a mini-panic attack that I am going to spend the rest of my life assembling storage racks in windowless rooms and avoiding getting stabbed with rusty nails while I break down crates for like $15 an hour.  It’s a long story.  The central message being that higher education is not all it’s cracked up to be.

(5) I wore my new sandals and ripped the top 4 layers of skin off my cute and tiny pinky toe.

There are lots of other stupid things that actually matter (well, number 4 matters and, actually a little bit number 2 also because urine in a soap dispenser…ew) but I don’t really want to write about them here because they are A Bigger Deal.  But suffice it to say that all the things that are stupid have brought me to the conclusion that I have been going about this whole life thing entirely incorrectly.  The whole thing, wrong approach this entire time and no one told me.  No one was like

Hey, Rebekah, I know you think you have it together but the thing is that you’re wrong and I just thought maybe you should know so you don’t continue on embarrassing yourself kind of like that one time when you went for a run and the string of your tampon was hanging out the bottom of your shorts.  Remember that?  Good times.

And then the other thing is this.  So I have been trying to amend my approach to things and sort of take the high road and as it turns out taking the high road sort of just sucks sometimes.  There’s no real satisfaction involved in the high road.  You have to be all, “well, this isn’t really worth me losing my cool over so I will just shrug my shoulders and sit over here and watch while you implode every so slowly.”  But the thing is that sometimes the implosion never happens, and the person goes through life sort of just being a dick and thinking they are right all the time and you have to know that they also think they are right vis-a-vis you and that one time (or maybe multiple times) they said something really sort of offensive and you knew if you called them out on it they would shrug their shoulders and then be all

whatever, bitches be crazy.

And I hate that.  It’s so…for lack of a better word, stupid.  And you know what else?  I really think I should be able to call dudes out on their misogyny without them then giving me the side eye and thinking I am a complete nut job.  Or like, I should be able to tell random dudes at bars that “accidentally” touching my leg 6 times is not okay when there is absolutely zero need for you to be standing that close to me in the first place without the fear that it will turn into A Thing and I will feel uncomfortable and like I did something wrong and that probably I should just leave.

And I just washed my hands with the pee soap again.  I really need to do something about that.

Okay, I am going to go for a run now in hopes that it will adjust the whole thing that is happening in my head.  Maybe I will come back from the run and realize that in actuality only like 50% of the things are stupid and that’s something I can maybe work with.  And then tomorrow maybe I will be back to writing about how the men’s rights movement is the most ridiculous movement I have ever heard of.  But not today.  Today is Father’s Day and so I will lay off doing the things that make my father worried about my safety.

Happy Father’s day to all the dad’s but especially to my dad, the second greatest dad in the world after King Tritan from The Little Mermaid.  That’s an old joke.  Don’t ask.