So Saturday after writing group, I decided I was going to go to Holy Land, the Middle Eastern deli of choice up here, to get more shisha. I’d accidentally left the last box out on the counter for several days after taking it to ESP’s and it had gotten a tad dried out, so I decided to just chuck it out and start over. So I picked out the flavors that I want and headed up to the cash register. And the clerk looked at it, and looked at me, and said, “Are you buying this for YOURSELF?”
It’s not that he was being rude, or judgmental. But that sort of thing, that surprise that a female would do the same thing as a male—it just always rubs me the wrong way. But I get that reaction almost every time I buy something smoking-related in there, so I just smiled and said yeah, I smoked a little. And he pointed out that I was buying an awful lot for someone who smoked “a little”, and I said that they had some new flavors so I wanted to try them out, which it turned out he was not aware were in stock, so he called out to the other cashier to ask if that person had tried them. And here’s where I genuinely got annoyed, because…the other cashier was a WOMAN. So why the surprise over a woman customer smoking shisha? Is it just because I’m European instead of Arabic? Am I getting irritated over the wrong thing here?
I don’t know…I realize this is one of my hot button issues, when I get a vibe from someone along the lines of “your behavior does not fit with what we expects from a female”, even if it’s in a “ooh, what a curious specimen you are!” way rather than a “I am displeased that you have chosen to degrade yourself by not following societal norms” way. It’s just…why does it matter? Why does it fucking matter? Yes, we all make assumptions about others every day. Stereotypes about age, about race, about sex or sexual orientation, arise because patterns of behavior do exist among people with similar backgrounds. But when someone behaves in a way that doesn’t fit that behavioral assumption, the thing to do is to think, “Oops, I shouldn’t have made assumptions,” rather than to visibly start and say, “Wow, I can’t believe you don’t fit neatly into one of my boxes!”
I’ll get down off the soapbox that no one really wanted to see me on in the first place, and go eat my lunch.