Miles Still to Go

It happened again today.  And perhaps it wouldn’t have been so bad if this had been the first, second, even third instance.  But it’s not.  We’re well into double-digits now.  And each time my disgust is amplified and the sting worsens.

Our family had experienced poor customer service at a nearby business recently . . . actually, a series of episodes of poor customer service.  To tell the entire tale required a lengthy email; and on behalf of my husband and me, since he was at work and I was at home, I wrote it.  It took me slightly more than an hour to compose the correspondence—a letter that was well-worded, compelling, and still courteous despite our frustration.  I sent it last Monday to the General Manager of the corporation.

male femaleThere was no response or even an acknowledgment on Tuesday or Wednesday; so on Wednesday afternoon I followed up with a polite request, inquiring as to when we might expect a reply.  I addressed the General Manager by his title (“Mr.”) followed by his last name.  He addressed me as “Samantha.”

I let that go and read his message . . . that he was meeting with his team to review the situation and would be back in touch.  I thanked him and heard nothing more on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

Last night my husband wrote an email.

My husband is a male—lest that detail slip by.

Within hours of his email we had a lengthy reply, a concrete solution . . . and the email to my husband was addressed to “Mr. Farias.” I was not included in the salutation.  I was not copied in on the email.

Apparently, the men were taking care of this, and I no longer existed.

And before I launch into a diatribe about men and women and lingering, pathetic gender roles that persist in 2014, let me reiterate this is not the first time this has happened to me.  Countless times I have made calls or written emails—to have work done on our home, to get estimates, to compare quotes—and no reply is forthcoming until my husband picks up the phone and leaves a message an octave lower than mine or taps the keyboard and signs the missive with a masculine name.

Every time it happens it is as obvious as it is egregious, and to say it inspires rage is an understatement.

I can recite my accomplishments, academic and otherwise; sing my praises as a communicator and generally reasonable human being; share my bank balance and the number of dollars I have to spend. But none of that matters.  In some instances, with some businesses, with some people, all that matters is that I am female—or, more aptly, that I am not male.

IMG_2817I thought it would be better for them, but it’s not.

In 2014 this is still our reality.

My children’s reality.

My sons’ and your sons’ and daughters’ very sad, very real reality.


3 thoughts on “Miles Still to Go

  1. Perhaps it’s time to add in a very low voice, “I know karate and though I won’t hurt you, I will embarrass you if I don’t get a reply in 24 hours.” Or, if your temperament permits, “If I don’t hear from you I’ll find you and beat the (*&^%$#%^&*^% out of you!”

  2. In relation to this particular incident, while I attempted to somewhat courteously admonish the manager regarding his handling of the correspondence, it’s the actions at the end of the day that matter. Though Mr. HE defended his position as not being disrespectful, my parting shot was to encourage him to consider the perception of his actions or lack thereof. We hope that Mr. HE will at least think about the perception he created, if not his actions and method of communication. Is something missing in the “Customer Service 101” curriculum?

  3. Sam – It does my heart good to know that you, a member of the younger than I am generation of women, are still sensitive to and aware of the numerous gender biases that still exist.  It is a daunting condition (bias, discrimination, ignorance, which ever adjective you choose) that human beings of both genders continue to address and improve the attitudes, policies, and thinking of those less enlightened!  

    You and Don are raising young men who are and will hopefully (no guarantees) continue to mature and believe that all humans are equal and should be afforded the same opportunities, etc.  Thanks for being bold and beautiful…Kathi

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