Yesterday I had late shift and I am always a bit strange when I work late. Strange in a good way that is, as I become more tired as the evening progresses, I become less reserved and even silly at times, as if I was in a drunk state. (Funnily enough when I drink alcohol I get propelled into a reverse mood and get very pissed off and hermit-like).
Luckily it was a quiet working day and I had time to chat to customers. One woman from the United States (she told me she was from there) asked about good places to go shopping. She could not have known that I was not the right person to ask such a question, but it turned out that she was looking for exactly what I was thinking of: cheap and easy places to shop for clothes, such as the Walmart that they had in the U.S. . Of course I could refer her to several of these.
She was glad to receive so much information, and then she commented on my hair, said how cute this short hair was and that we were almost like sisters (because she had short hair, too). There were other customers in the store and and this woman explained to them how she had asked ‘her’ (meaning me) about places that were good for shopping, and they were eager to help her and provided her with information, too, just as I had done. It almost felt like we were all familiar to each other and having a normal conversation, just a couple of women gossiping, talking about shopping, never mind that none of us knew eachother and that I was still at work, working.
I was happy to hear that the woman approved of my hair(style), for I always enjoy hearing positive comments. The fact that she mentioned we were like sisters was kind of neat, too, because I had never had a sister and didn’t know what it would be like to have a sister, and it kinda meant that she approved of me, for otherwise she would clearly not have said such a thing. So I concluded that her intentions were good.
However, I would have liked it if she had not so easily dropped me into a gendered category and said ‘she’ and ‘sister’ without thinking about these words. I know it’s not clear to people that I am a neutral, that I indeed see myself as genderless, but still I find gendered words so misleading and so obsolete in conversation. They tend to remove me emotionally from the one who adresses me as a ‘she’ that I cannot claim to be able to fully relate to them anymore, and eventhough they are not unfriendly to me, in my eyes the time I spend with them loses value, all the fun I could have had talking to them has suddenly been dampened by a bitter taste.
I was not going to correct her there and then, time was too short and I was still working, and not there to educate people. I wonder when my patience will run out and I will blurt my thoughts out to complete strangers who just want to buy a book or a CD and get on with their lives.
It has not happenend yet, and perhaps the tiredness that puts me in a slow and uncantankerous mood has helped avoid such a situation. For now, I am just happy that people even talk to me and say things like “I like your hair”. I don’t expect much insight into gender from them, and not a lot of intelligent comment 🙂