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A Response to Misogyny

This is not related to the house, but rather I need to get your opinion. I need to figure out an appropriate response to men who address me as “Sweetheart.”

I am neither referring to the man who is married to me nor the men to whom I am related. But rather, complete strangers who see me and think it’s acceptable to address me as if we were familiar.

Today, while taking a 1986 F-250 formerly dark green now green/brown/rust beater truck to the emissions testing place for work, one of the technicians addressed me as “Sweetie.” Taking the district’s lightweight vehicles for their annual emissions test has recently become one of my tasks. As such, I’ve become familiar to the folks at the facility and it’s become my garage away from the garage. They’ve hired on some new techs, one of whom thought my name was “Sweetie.” Turns out, New Tech couldn’t test the truck because he couldn’t read the VIN. Never mind that it was visible on the door pillar and under the hood. It was too dirty on the dash plate so he sent me away with a form explaining why he couldn’t do it. Not, however, before he had his manager sign off on the sheet.

His manager, like me, is one of those weird lady mechanics. I casually noted that she had new staff and then added that maybe New Tech should refrain in future from addressing their female customers as “Sweetie.” She took heed and I went on my way.

I’m glad that I could directly and effectively address this particular situation but unfortunately it’s not the first time I’ve felt belittled and insulted when strangers use familiar terms with me. It happened when I worked the library. It has happened at the garage, although not with any of my immediate co-workers. Occasionally some of the vendors who do business with us and who can see my name clearly written on my uniform have done so as well.

In Georgia, I was willing to overlook it because of the fact that everyone is “Darlin’. ” Since I no longer live in the South I won’t accept that as an explanation. I refuse to dismiss it based on the man in question’s age. Being over 80 is the only age bracket where I can see people having different opinions based on their generational exposure. Since none of the people who have put me in this situation are octogenarians then these working professionals should know better.

I’m considering using one of the following terms as a verbal riposte:

  • beefcake
  • bro or broskie
  • shnookums

Do tell. What should be my new word?


Living the Library Loca: Reflections on Leaving a Job

On Sunday I will quit my first job where I’m actually sad to leave.

I’m not going anywhere really. Just quitting because it’s time. And also because working full-time at the garage, plus Sundays at the library, add to that the Jade House and I’m just slowly wearing myself down. I’ve never really allowed myself the luxury to not be completely overloaded. This will be different.

Libraries (and in effect, librarians) have always held a warm fuzzy place in my heart. From the narrow, short shelves from my childhood memories of Central, to working as a volunteer at Bull Run, I have long considered librarians as the mighty guardians of the written word.

When I embarked on my quarter-life crisis I vaguely considered pursuing my master’s degree in library science in order to join this esteemed crowd. I nixed that idea though when I learned that my-kind-of-sort-of-not-really-little brother Ben said, “I don’t see Manda as a librarian.”

And in the way that only little brothers can be right, he was.

I started work at our community/campus library during my first fall semester at community college and suddenly I had a much better understanding of what it means to be a librarian. Never mind the fact that we don’t sell anything. Working at a library is a customer service job just like everything else. It’s an exchange of goods and services. Shiny, awesome, for FREE books all the time goods. But still, goods and services.

You still have people who will never be happy with how you do your job. And even when people are faced with fines that they should have known would eventually catch up to them, folks still manage to complain about the price.

I’ve enjoyed my time working there, but I honestly don’t have the long-term temperament to be a librarian. I forget to use my inside voice. I have fines just like everyone else. I babble incoherently at patrons when I get excited about something they’re checking out. All in all, I’m a very flawed librarian/clerk-person.

Before the lights go on

I do, however, have some all-time favorite moments:

  • Like helping Deaf patrons and at least being able to sign, “You’re welcome.”
  • Like finding a first-edition copy of Theodore Roosevelt’s “African Game Trails” in our stacks (and then being completely enraged when it goes missing).
  • Like being in the library before in opens.

Yep. It’s the simple things.

That’s why when I received this link to fabulous library tribute art, I geeked out a little bit. It seems Scottish library patrons also share my joy at the institution of free knowledge. Really that’s the reason behind this post, to share that link. And I guess to start putting words to what it means to close this chapter of my life.