Saturday, August 26, 2006

Of Gentlemen and (Un)fair Ladies

I think a small town post office is probably the best place to *people watch*. In fact, this is one of my favorite things to do! People watch, not go to a small town post office;). I would rather sit in a crowd of 30 people at a party and say next to nothing, than to be thrust in the center of attention. So what I'll do is say nothing and just watch and observe the activities of those around me. Often people tell me I seem to know *everything* and I guess the only reason for that is I'm an observer of people and I pay attention to what people say. But then I'm always told I'm too *quiet* (insert laughter here as many of you know that is not the case!).

But I digress.

I walked into my small town post office this past week in the middle of the afternoon to pick up some mail (a redundant statement I suppose:D) and to get an envelope waiting for me (more specifically, waiting for my money as there was not enough postage on it!). As I walked up to the line, I noticed three ladies in front of me. I didn't consider that a wait at all, especially since there were two people behind the counter. Now a line that is 10 deep is considered long:D.

But I digress.

I waited for the ladies in front of me to get done with their business so while I waited I did what I normally do: people watch. There were two people at the counter who were being taken care of and one of the ladies in front of me was perusing the envelopes, labels, and tape that is placed by the line so you can do some *last minute* shopping. I started to step around her (thinking she wasn't in line) when she quickly placed one foot in line and the other foot in front of the packing supplies.

Ok, you can go first. No big deal. One of the people at the counter finished their business and walked away and the man behind the counter called out next. The other two ladies in front of foot lady walked over to him and they instantly started a verbal barrage on the man behind the counter. Meanwhile foot lady walked over to where the second person had just finished their business and started her transaction with the lady behind the counter.

Back to the verbal barrage.

I quickly figured out that these ladies must've been in line before, got up to the counter, had something wrong with their package/envelope and were told to step aside and fix it. This has happened to me a few times before, but it's no biggie because you can always get right back to the top of the line.

Apparently they didn't think too highly of the fact that they were told they were wrong and were making sure the man behind the counter knew how they felt. Not only did he know, the rest of us (myself, foot lady, and the lady behind the counter) also knew they were displeased.

They really beat the man up verbally and walked away in a huge huff.

I wonder why I was so surprised that they were so rude. But surprised I was, and as I walked up to the counter, I offered the man a friendly smile and a cherry "hello!" I must say he behaved well by not cutting down the women who had just left. I've seen that happen lots of times because I used to be a cashier at the local grocery store and most times people in line got more mad than I did at the irate customer ahead of them!

But I digress.

Once I paid for my needs-more-postage envelope, I waved good bye and headed towards the door. In my small town post office, there are two doors you need to go through in order to get outside. As I walked through the first door to the little room where the PO boxes are, I noticed this *older* couple ahead of me and an *olderish* man kinda behind me. The wife from the *older* couple went out the door, followed by the husband, then me, and then the *olderish* man. As soon as we got outside, the husband turned around and said, "I'm sorry! I should have let you go first." After assuring him I appreciated the gesture and no harm was done, I walked to my car and sorted out the happenings of the past 5 minutes.

At first appearance, the husband wasn't much to look at. He was probably around 70-72 and a little rotund, but I think he had a pure heart. For as I walked away I noticed him grab his wife's hand as they softly chatted. In my book, he acted just as a gentleman should act. But then I got to thinking about the verbal scene that had taken place inside and how they did not act like ladies.

Too often I have heard, "*Sigh*. If only men would act like gentlemen."

Umm, excuse me? After bashing them, demanding women's rights, trodding them down, saying you can do it (whatever *it* is) better and quicker, and refusing to act like a lady, you worry about men not being gentlemen?

I'm not saying that men should stop be gentlemen because women don't deserve it. I disagree. But I can understand why they get discouraged about treating women as ladies and with respect.

As I drove away from my small town post office, I knew I had been challenged. I prefer the response the gentleman gave over the response the (un)fair ladies gave. Here's a post I found that as a good reminder in it... are you a lady?

An amusing and beautiful thing happened this morning and I have to share it with
you . . and also thank you for encouraging modest dress on your blog!
Please know that I am not being judgmental in telling this story. It is just a
testament - at least in my opinion - to the way men react based on how a girl
chooses to attire herself.

In NYC, for women, walking past or through a construction area is always an "event." I'm not saying that the men are always crude or inappropriate, but you never know what comments are going to be made and it can be extremely uncomfortable. Most women and girls I know have gotten used to it, ignore it, and avoid it when it's possible.

This morning, I saw barricades and workers in their jackets and hard hats milling around up ahead of me, as I was about half a block away from my office. As I crossed the street I realized there was no way I was getting to the building entrance without passing through the pedestrian walkway that had been put up to allow people to navigate through the construction site safely. There was a young woman ahead of me, also going into my building, who was dressed in a very short skirt, high stiletto heels, and a nearly-sheer sleeveless blouse.

A few of the men whistled and some of them called out to her - a few of them even jokingly stood in her path. She lowered her head and started walking more quickly which, of course, didn't really help the matter at this point.

I kept on walking, figuring that I might be in for it as well, since this was clearly a rowdy group. Most of their eyes had now turned to me, in my pretty-but-simple capped-sleeve dress, with a skirt that hit my knees, and "boring" low heels.

And what did one of the men say to the rest of the group standing on the walkway?
"Make way for the lady."


Rebecca said...

I remember reading a story along this line in one of Elisabeth Elliot's books. She told the story of a professor at a univeristy holding the door for a female student on campus. The young woman was offended that he would this for her. She huffily said, "You do not have to hold the door open for me because I am a lady!" The professor responded by saying, "I do not do it because you are a lady; I do it because I am a gentleman."

Kate said...

Oh I love people watching too! Human nature is so interesting to observe! I completely agree with you about the gentleman and how we act has an effect on how we're treated. Excellent post