When I was a TV news reporter and I needed a “man-on-the-street” interview, Starbucks was my go-to place. Not only could I get my latte fix, I could almost always find an Average Joe, enjoying some joe with an opinion on the national story/city council vote/election result I was covering. Weird things happen to me at Starbucks. I’m not sure if that shows I spend entirely too much time there, or if Starbucks is just a good sampling of the public, thus resulting in better odds of weirdness.
I’ll confess, I had a strange request of the barista. You see, I was helping with a playgroup outside of the Starbucks in the common area of the shopping center. It’s an outdoor shopping/dining location in our city with a grassy area for children where my workout group frequently hosts playgroups. This week’s theme was bubbles. As one of the hosts I went to the dollar store and got some bubbles. I got my daughter this bubble gun thing from Target on clearance for the playgroup. She was SO excited. As toys are, it was packaged so that no human adult could open it without performing surgery to the packaging. Of course, the bubbles were blowing and I had no scissors. The three-year-old was getting anxious. I told her to hang tight with the other moms.
I ducked into the Starbucks where they practically know my order. I asked if I could borrow some scissors to open the package. The barista had no scissors, but did have a box cutter to open all the pre-packaged goodies we enjoy. I thanked her and started cutting the thick plastic straps choking this cheap toy.
That’s when I heard, “Careful!” from a voice behind me. I was confused. Surely no stranger was scolding me!? I glanced over to see a man in his fifties waiting for his drink. His tone was patronizing, like I was his 10-year-old daughter and I needed to be aware of the dangers of Exacto-knife usage before my Girl Scout camp-out. I ignored him and kept cutting.
He tried again to get my attention and be clever, only it was pretty demeaning. He said, “Whoa! A woman with a knife! Look out!” He went on to chuckle at his own joke and look around to see if anyone else agreed. When I still paid him no mind he said, trying to be funny, “I’m just gonna get out of the way so I don’t get hurt.” I didn’t look up and said, “You’re fine.” He got his drink and walked out of the store, looking at me like I was the stankest bitch on the planet for not yukking it up at his brilliance.
Sir, did you think that you were the funniest, most clever man in Starbucks that day? Did you just have to hear your own voice and weigh in on what I was doing? Did you want me to giggle at your condescending comments like a sweet little woman? I bet you never would have never spoken a word if it were my husband opening the toy or any man using a knife. You are not my dad. I’m a grown woman who knows how to open a package with a box cutter. Sure, It was kind of weird that I was doing it in Starbucks, but understandable with the crowd outside and certainly not worth commenting on.
I got the toy open and the kids had a great time. This little encounter really wasn’t a huge deal and had little impact on my life except for writing this blog post. Maybe he was just trying to be funny. It didn’t really hurt my feelings, it just annoyed me. I could have done without, the “Oh, you’re a typical bitch.” look that he shot me. Maybe I’m making too much of it. Really, I feel sorry for him that patronizing women is a way that he gets a laugh. What do you think?