Sunday, 14 August 2016
Today I had to go to Harvey Norman to buy a bread maker to replace our much loved wedding* gift of 13 years ago. Once the purchase was confirmed, the sales guy wanted to enter my name and address into the computer so that if I lost the receipt they would still have a record of my purchase.
At least ..I ‘hope’ that’s why they wanted it - this week Denny thought she was getting a simple loyalty card when she went to buy something from Lowes, only to become suspicious during the application process when they asked her what her income was. Despite the sales people’s insistence it was just a loyalty card, it turns out they were signing her up to a store credit card without informing her! Luckily Denny became so un-nerved by the questions that she abandoned the application and eventually got to the bottom of the ruse - resulting in the store receiving a very stern email later in the day.
Anyway, back to Harvey Norman. The very first question the sales person asked me was whether it was ‘Mrs or Miss’. To which I instantly replied ‘Ms’, causing him to take a short intake of breath as he relegated me to being one of those women.
There’s no male equivalent of this ‘Mrs,Miss,Ms’ question. Guys, imagine if you were shopping and the first question you were asked by a someone you didn't know was almost the equivalent of "are you are married or single?".. I find this incredibly intrusive and I can’t believe people and companies are still doing this! I think we’ve come a long way (um.. say. 30 years), since marital status was relevant in a business or shopping transaction. As a kid I remember being constantly embarrassed by mum insisting upon being referred to as ‘Ms’, but as with many things, I now appreciate that she was simply feeling exactly the same way I do today. Mum was also one of the very few women working in the emerging IT industry, often working in offices which didn’t even have a female toilet, so she was pretty used to being considered ‘that difficult woman’ . Needless to say, what embarrassed my pre-teen self back then, makes me proud now.
But despite my mum’s best efforts, this crap still lingers, and most often when someone asks ‘Mrs or Miss’, and I reply ‘Ms’, the asker seems to be taken aback at my refusal to answer the question, it’s as if they are offended that I am not trusting them with this knowledge of my marital status - when all I want to do is buy a god dammed bread maker without revealing any aspects of my personal life.
So from now on, if I’m asked in person whether it’s “Mrs, Miss or Ms”, I’m going to say ‘Dr’. Then instead of suspecting that they’re judging me to be ’a difficult woman’, I can imagine they are thinking ’ah - a respected doctor’ (when secretly the salesperson is probably just thinking ‘geez - stuck up smartarse’)
*ah the irony!