Taken to the cleaners.
By Lee Ann “Sunny” Brown
If you have recently read any of the headlines aimed at us women, you will just accept as fact that once you turn the big 5-0 you are dead to the rest of the world. So, there I was feeling like the average woman and completely invisible as I was going about my day, when something happened to give me pause. I started to think that maybe I am okay with that after all.
The day was going along just like most other days when I went out to grab a bite for lunch. As I stepped up to the counter to place my order, I had to clear my throat and smile and say, “Hello,” in a loud and authoritative voice to finally get the eye contact of the order taker. Then I had to repeat myself over and over and clarify twice that I wanted pasta salad instead of chips because they weren’t really paying any attention to me after all. After they finally got it right, I had to practically break out into my tap dance routine to get them to actually acknowledge with the briefest of glances that I was still there as they were taking my money from my actual hand and handing some change back to me. As I found a nice little corner table to eat, I had to loudly proclaim that I was, in fact, sitting there when someone came and tried to join me, practically sitting in my lap. I only hope that it was because they were on their cell phone and completely distracted that they didn’t see me.
Afterwards I had some errands to run. I had been standing in line at the bank for what seemed an eternity and was finally next in line when this older man (I will not call him a gentleman) cut right in front of me! I waited a few seconds to give him the chance to realize his error, but he didn’t seem to realize it all. So, I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me,” and informed him that I was there first and that he needed to get in line behind me. He seemed completely unfazed by it.
By now, even my sense of humor had started to disappear. And it didn’t get any better when I stopped by the grocery store. When I was using the self-checkout to ring up my purchase, it wouldn’t recognize the barcodes on any of the items. Finally, a manager came over and and apologized, saying that machine was not working. Whew! For a minute there I was beginning to question my own existence.
If you believe all those headlines in the media today, you will begin to question yours, too.
It is true that I certainly don’t seem to see myself in any of the advertising these days. And I don’t really see myself in any of the department stores, either. I do see my daughter everywhere I look, though. (And, strangely, I seem to see my mother, too.) But, I have a difficult time finding clothes that I think look like me. They’re as scarce as the women my age in any of the fashion magazines. Actually, I did recently find a new shirt that I liked, and on my last errand of the day, I had to run by the laundry and pick it up along with my husband’s dress shirts. This is when I have never felt so much alive, so “seen” by anyone outside of my family and friends in ages. When I was handed the bill for the laundry, I noticed that the charge for cleaning my shirt was double the amount charged to clean my husband’s shirt! At first, I started to get really irritated. I mean, how can they possibly think that is okay? I was going to report them for gender discrimination. After all, there is not one difference in our shirts except that mine is smaller, so there is actually less fabric to clean. Where was the outrage in this inequality? I wanted them to come clean and acknowledge their double standard. I was wondering if I could get away with paying for it in disappearing money?
Oh, wait, I then realized that my money does disappear faster than my husband’s, or any other man’s, because there is less of it to begin with. I was sitting in the car feeling really angry over this when I had a revelation. Suddenly, I realized that someone actually took notice of me. After my whole day of trying to make sure that I was not completely looked over, I was finally noticed.
I’m not invisible! My laundry has taken notice of me. And then charged me double for it. I must be a really valuable member of society after all.