I am the kind of person that enjoys being very busy. I just graduated in May and I am taking a year off to work and travel. Not being in school for the summer is normal, but when the leaves hit the floor and the air gets cooler I am going to be thankful for all the different jobs I have. Amongst my many jobs I serve at a cool spot downtown twice a week.
As a server I am constantly analyzing and manipulating interactions with both men and women. I have learned that women must have my full attention to ensure they feel appreciated and not threatened by my physical appearance or qualities, specially when they are out with men. I have also learned that men will make constant pases on me, some crossing profesional boundaries and some not. The truth is that as a server I am constantly interacting with people that I wouldn’t necessarily interact with if I was out having a drink, and such reality forces on some intensive acting skills. I can tell when women see me as “competition”, the sad socialization of women as enemies comes out as I ask:
“Can I get you a drink beauty?”
Some women will barely look at me and simply say:
“We are all good here.”
Then walk right behind me and order drinks from the male bartender, because he is a man, and as a man he offers these type of women some kind of sexual gratification that as a woman I can only “take away”.
Those women make me work extra hard, and I value the challenge, to win them over with my smiles, attention, compliments on their jewelry, clothing, shoes, ignoring their boyfriends, serving them first, double-checking their boyfriends’ orders with a knowledgeable female look,
“yes, he’s allowed one more” their eyes respond.
As a woman I do find working with women harder, but more entertaining than working with men. The vast majority of men are fairly predictable, specially when they are drinking, some are genuinely interested in my profesional career and not just my alternative money-making responsibilities such as serving. Some are comfortable enough to ask me,
“Where are the ugly chicks in this place?” said the jock-loooking, well-built Canadian man.
“There’s no ugly women here,” I responded, “why?”
“I am looking for low self-esteem chicks because I need to get laid right now,” he responded.
Does he realize he is speaking to a woman? Does he realize I am working and am not therefore too drunk to not notice his chauvinistic, macho behaviour?
“You know, its best to have sex with women with self-confidence, I think they’re better in bed,” I say looking into his eyes. “So, can I get you a drink or…?”
No worries, I warned every single woman in the bar not to speak to the man, because he could be categorized as handsome and he had a sweet face, but I knew his real act.
Some other men make it their mission to get my number, or attempt to take me home after the bar. Honey, I am tired, I have been working on my feet with a bunch of annoying drunks for eight to ten hours… trust me, I am going home alone.
“I can wait for you at the pizza place in the corner there,” one man actually said one night.
“I don’t actually get out of work until like 3:30 a.m. you have a good night I’ll see you around next time,” I say as I grab some filled ashtrays and make a run for it.
These type of men do not realize that I am nice to them because I am working, not because I find them attractive or interesting. In the few minutes that we have interacted with each other, trust me, I have no idea who they are or even know their names. I am not working to find men to take home with me, I am working to pay my bills and save money to travel.
As a Latina woman in a small Canadian city, I am seen as unique and different. I also interact with people from other cultures as natural habit, if they look like they are not Canadian I want to know who they are and where they are from. I have big groups of acquaintances from Arab, Serbian and Indian backgrounds.
Serving a group of Arab and Serbian men last week, one of them, whom I not know (or apparently cannot remember) grabbed me by the upper part of my arm, like a child in trouble, and pushed me aside against the bar’s rail.
“Hey,” I say removing his arm and putting a hand in his chest to back him up from my face, “can I get you a drink?”
“No,” he says getting closer, “I have something to say to you.”
“Ok,” I say getting myself ready to put on my mask.
“I met you two years ago, I added you on Facebook and you never added me back,” he says completely serious.
I laugh and say, “sorry, is there anything else you want to say to me?”
“It’s okay you laugh, but you used to be skinny like a model, you know?”
Hmmm, let me just think, last time I checked this was my body and my life, I think I know the changes in my body better than you. But he was right, I has 19 when this unknown man apparently met me and although always very tall and with very long legs, I had a skinny figure familiar with my teenage years and childhood. Over the past two years I had dealt with my own changes, my hips took over the Ecuador, my breasts became mountains, my long legs became more full, and my behind became curvier. I am within my supposed weight boundaries, I am not “chubby” or “fat”, and if I was I would probably have a lot more work to do in a society that values women looking like girls, and infantilizes those who are naturally very skinny and little. My becoming a woman was troubling for this stranger, and he felt entitled to bring it to my attention. Had I any less self-esteem than the amount my parents always assured me of, I may have felt attacked, or even ashamed. But instead I was offended, and not because of my body’s changes, but because as a woman I am constantly fighting men’s entitlement and this time it had gone too far.
“You may not know this, but girls go through changes to become women, most women do not remain very skinny. When you are ready to see a woman for who she is you might want to drift away from preferring teenagers,” I said. As I began to walk away, he grabbed me by the arm again and said:
“Do not take it offensive, I know a modelling agency…”
“I am done with this conversation,” I said, removing myself aggressively from his grasp.
No you cannot have my phone number, and please do not assume that I want to go home with you because I laugh at your ridiculous jokes or silly attempts to pick me up while I patiently wait for you to gather the change and pay for your beer. No, I do not deserve to be told of the disgusting way you objectify women (when you’re not enough of a man to attempt getting sex by enchanting a woman with your smarts and personality) walking around the bar inspecting the zone with your penis flying side to side inside your shorts like a gorilla. And no, I will not participate in your game to pick up what you (and society) classify as “ugly women”. No, the tip goes in my hand, do not put your hands in my apron and no, my boobs are not made out of glue so you cannot simply slap a five dollar bill to it. You must understand that working as a server is hard enough to deserve a tip, serving you does not entitle you to make me your sex object. And finally, no, I am working right now, and I do not have time for your under-explored assumption and criticisms about my body, specially if I do not know you. Your entitlement is creepy, unacceptable and out of place. This is a new era, wake up to the coffee of equal treatment and change. Most women out there are not interested in taking home, giving numbers, or accepting criticisms from cave men like you, thank you very much.
I walked over to the other side of the patio and got a couple of drink orders. On my way back I saw the man standing by the rail and the bouncer coming my way,
“This fucker needs to go right now,” I said signalling the cave man.
The bouncer looked at me and nodded, “Excuse me, you need to go right now,” he said to him.
“Yeah, yeah I will leave in five minutes,” said the man while I noticed how very voluptuous he was. I bet no one lately has told him how he has changed since he was a teenager.
“You’re going right now,” said the bouncer walking him out by the arm.
Not in my work place sir, this is not the place for you to come criticize women you do not know. Take your entitled self back to the prehistoric era. And with you goes the nasty old man that slapped a five dollar bill on my breast last year, the jock looking for women with low self-esteem and the many creeps whom I have to kick out of the bar because they refuse to leave without my number or promised access to my body.
Women who work in the industry are not here for your entertainment, we are simply delivering drinks and assuring your satisfied with what you are digesting. Your sexual, personal or straight-up freaky entitlements and needs are not my business, not should you make it my business. Tip well, keep your hands and your phallocentric ego to yourself and leave promptly after 2 a.m.
Side Note: I have indeed met many wonderful women and men, with whom I have created acquaintances and whom I love serving and having fun with. Nonetheless, all those wonderful beings are people I would have naturally met on a night out. This post does not intend to generalize that all men and women are the same, we all know it’s not like that. It is indeed speaking to men who recognize some of their habits in the different interactions described above, and makes a claim of action. A wake-up call to proper 21st century behaviour between women and men in America. Furthermore, I love where I work and my work, such male behaviour is not daily, thank the Universe, but constant over the past two years that I have worked in the serving industry.