This Saturday I had a lovely brunch with a former student to catch up on life after graduation. I truly enjoy getting to hear from students on how things are going, where they are and so forth. I'm that teacher, completely proud of each and every one of them and all they're doing out there!
Well, after a lovely meal of deliciously fluffy pancakes and bacon, we were sitting and visiting some, talking about this and that and just enjoying our coffee and our time. We happened to be seated at a community table where a larger party had joined towards the end of our meal and an interesting thing happened. A red headed young woman half way down called out to us see if we could move down so her guests could enjoy their meal. And she said that, "so our guests..." While I write this, I can say I'm making it sound more polite than it came across.
This moment struck me in two ways:
1. Why didn't the woman sitting right next to us just ask if she could have a little elbow room?
2. Why did this woman half way down the table feel the need to ask in such a manner as if we were being incredibly inconsiderate of her friend on purpose?
So I smiled my big Texas sized smiled saying, "Of course, no problem" and then scooted down enough for her friend before promptly returning to our topic of conversation, calmly and cooly finishing our coffee. "That's our cue, I think, " I said to my brunch buddy. I wasn't going to rush but I wasn't going to be rude as we took a moment to grab our purses and jackets. We headed towards the door only to be met with giddy applause from some of the party.
If your mouth is on the floor, too, I'm not surprised. Mine was. If I'm being truthful here, I had half a mind to turn around, sit down, and have that fourth cup of coffee and keep the conversation going just to make her red hair turn redder, but that would have only escalated the situation and I thought better of it. Plus, Princess Kate would have disapproved, I'm sure.
You just have to laugh and shake your head, but honestly I couldn't shake how much it bothered me. I've had fellow females say things before about how girls are just mean or witchy but those statements about women bug me because I surround myself with fantastic women all the time.
These are women who are strong and bright and kind. I admire how they handle situations around them without getting ruffled and how a cool comment can be both polite and firm at the same time. I've been shown you do not have to shout to get your point heard and tone can change how a situation around in an instance. There's no need to be rude to get your way and just because you use "sir," or "ma'am" or "thank you" doesn't mean you're a push-over.
When I hear females talk about other females as just mean or backstabbing or witchy, I'm always surprised. First of all because this is coming from another female. Secondly, I do not consider myself in that category at all so why are you describing ALL females as being this way? Well...if I had stubbornly stayed at the table just to make that woman mad, I suppose that's actually playing into this idea...but I didn't. So, I still get to hang on to my halo. This short exchange with this woman just made me assume she was one of those mean, rude girls I hear others generally say about women.
Isn't that terrible? I played exactly into a generalization that I despise myself. Shouldn't we women be lifting one another up instead of assuming we're catty or mean because we're female? Shouldn't you be able to see another lady and say, "hey, we're in the same boat, let's be kind to one another?" And in case you're wondering, yes, yes we should.
I've run through the scenarios--maybe they reserved the table and we didn't know it. Maybe they hoped we were going soon and wanted to hurry our exit so they could spread out. Maybe, maybe, maybe. In the long run it doesn't matter and my chances of seeing the same party of women in their all matching t-shirts is slim. I hope.
What it really comes down to is perhaps we need to stop assuming all women are bratty and start approaching situations openly without preconceived notions. I think we'd be less defensive and perhaps interact with less irritation and with a little more compassion and empathy. I swear I'm not going to break out in "Kumbaya" any time soon, but I am serious. There's too much assumption in this world that every encounter is going to be a knock-out-drag-out fight or that you have to approach people with hand-on-the-hip aggressive approach to get your way. I'll fess up and say I've done that before, gone in ready with guns a blazing and then been stunned to find the response and interaction was kinder or easier than I anticipated. Talk about feel sheepish.
I think I handled the brunch table situation as best as possible without compromising my values as a woman, my time with my friend or my cup of coffee. Gal needs her morning caffeine kick. But folks, if you're going to ask someone you don't know from Adam to do something for you, whether that's scoot down or hold the door or whatever, how about you try saying it without a trace of rudeness or assumption and see what kind of human exchange you have today. It might just open up something, dare I say, pleasant with your fellow (wo)man and prove to the world that women are not the witchy creatures after all. And for Pete's sake, do not applaud when someone leaves your table. Good grief.
But do go ahead and have that fourth cup of coffee. You only live once--might as well be super caffeinated while you do!