Last week I was working a shift as a host (that’s a male hostess for those who don’t speak restaurant lingo) and an older man walked in and brusquely asked about the wait list. Our coordinator (a hostess) let him know that it would be 30 minutes before we could seat him and his family. To this, the old man replied, “Your competition across the street can seat me in 25-minutes.”
Before the hostess could execute what might have been the most justified shrug in the history of apathetic shoulder movements, the old man glanced over her shoulder to find myself (a host) and a new guy that we were training (also a host, because he’s a guy, see). “Is there anything that these guys can do to get me bumped up on the list?” he asked, obviously assuming that two males standing anywhere in proximity to a female absolutely must be her supervisors. She gracefully returned the courteous equivalent to “Nope.”
Here’s the thing: This hostess has been working at our restaurant for like over 3 years. I’ve been working there for about a month. The new guy has been working there for not at all because he’s technically still training. I have surprisingly gotten through many situations in my life by appearing more confident than I actually am, but I was a silent bystander in this exchange so there is no way that I was projecting some kind of authoritative aura that led this geezer to believe that I was the boss. He just saw a woman and assumed that she was a man’s underling.
My co-workers and I expressed our annoyance to each other about it after the old man walked away and that was the end of it, for me at least.
It was one of many incidences in which I’ve realized that I’ve never been discriminated against or looked down upon for my gender (I’m a man).
I’ve never been discriminated against or looked down upon for my sexual preference (I’m straight – unlike the new guy who was also assumed to be in charge).
I’ve never been discriminated against or looked down upon for my race (I’m white).
The only assumption that people have made about me based on my appearance is that I would be a swell guy to share some crazy with.
Seriously, I’m a good-looking, heterosexual, white man. If there are glass ceilings for me, I certainly haven’t found them yet!
The lack of discrimination in my life is something that I work hard not to take for granted. The sheer volume of incredible bloggers on WordPress covering women’s issues and LGBT equality is so invaluable for achieving this. Obviously reading a blog post is far from “walking a mile” in someone else’s shoes but it is certainly capable of broadening your horizons, provoking thought, and challenging perspectives and I think that these brain exercises are exactly what the world needs.
It’s hard out here for a good lookin’ white guy. There are so many societal problems that I will never directly encounter and there’s an enormous danger that I could go my entire life overlooking them.
I challenge you, reader (s – hopefully). I challenge you to observe how people treat each other, especially when those people don’t know anything about each other beyond appearances.
Would their interactions play out differently if you subbed out either person for a different demographic?
Would the old man have just nodded and walked away had I been the one to inform him of the 30-minute wait?
If he knew about my new co-worker’s sexual preference, would the old man have put up more of a fight against him?
Would I have acknowledged the old man’s sexism if he were younger?
Once you start thinking of things this way, it’s really difficult to stop. Consideration for other people’s perspectives could go a long way towards solving most of the problems that plague the human race.
It’s hard out here for a good lookin’ white guy. I make a conscious decision to notice when I’m not being discriminated against, otherwise, I could spend my entire life in a privileged little bubble.