My First Experience With Sexism Targeted At Me

by Taylor Hagemann 4 months ago in activism

Dealing with sexism at work

My First Experience With Sexism Targeted At Me

I love where I work. It’s a great company that takes care of their employees and treats them like family. They have given me great opportunities to grow in my new career, even though I have only been employed there for a few months. I have a career in vehicle service at a car dealership, a field that is mostly done by men. No big deal to me, but I get comments quite often about how “It’s great to see women working here.” I take that as a compliment because it makes me feel accomplished. I get those nice compliments from mostly women. I think that is because they can establish trust easier with another woman versus a man, but I may be mistaken. Most of my male customers have been very nice to me and treated me with respect, minus a select few. Usually I can handle this disrespect from customers no problem, but the other day we had a situation that I will never tolerate: sexism towards me and another one of my female co-workers.

Our boss was at lunch so it was just me and my other female co-worker in the service bay. It was just another rainy Monday afternoon and after a few “difficult” customers throughout the day we had a gentleman come in for some routine maintenance on his vehicle. Thinking nothing of it, I go to greet the customer and check his vehicle in for his scheduled appointment. I started talking to him and he was instantly causing problems with me and being difficult because I asked him if his keys were inside his vehicle. It’s something we usually ask because some customers just leave them in there for us. He was being snarky and said,”I never leave my keys in the car so why would I now?”, so I decided to just keep my mouth shut and keep doing my job like usual.

We get up to my desk and he says to me,”Your company sends me ten percent off coupons. [Other place] sends me twenty dollar off coupons. Do you honor competitor coupons?” Politely I said, “No we don’t but we have many different coupons that get sent in the mail ranging from 10-15% off. Sometimes we send out a $49.95 oil change coupon as well.” He proceeded to say, “Well then, I guess I’ll have to start going there instead.” and “You need to send better coupons.” Politely I said that I don’t send out the coupons for service but I still got some snotty remarks in return. While I’m standing there trying to type up his service ticket, all I hear is complaining from him about how my company is bad and just tries to rip people off. I try to cool down the situation with a simple apology and he says to me,”Sorry is what your service has been,” even though I was doing my job the correct way and treating my customer with respect.

Quietly, I kept doing my work so I could get the gentleman out of the service area and into the waiting room. I printed his service ticket, grabbed a pen, and asked for his authorization signature so we could work on his car but he even started fighting with me about that too! Generally when we make these service tickets, prices vary depending on what kind of vehicle, how much oil is needed/parts, coupons, and taxes. So when he asked me for the price I couldn’t give him an exact price at that time. He didn’t like that, which is understandable, so I asked my other female co-worker what the price of a truck oil change was and what his total would be. When I said “truck” he instantly started yelling at me saying “That’s not a truck. That’s a car!” In my best customer service voice I tried to explain to him that his because his vehicle is an SUV and has all wheel drive it would be priced as a truck because of vehicle size and also because of how many quarts of oil it takes. His response was,”You don’t know what the fck you’re talking about. This is f*cking bullshit!”

At this point, Rainie, my other female co-worker takes over because she can tell I’m getting frustrated and nervous with this difficult customer. Rainie starts giving him some prices and it makes him happy for a split second. After Rainie helped him and he signed his paperwork, he went on to say that women should not be working with cars and that we should basically get fired even though we were doing our job correctly and the way we were trained to do it. After that, he even complained that he had to wait ONE HOUR for an oil change and tire rotation (which is standard). He said to Rainie, “Are you gonna give me something to drive so I don’t have to wait here?” To make him happy she said, “Yes! Ill let you take this brand new 2020 Buick to drive so you don’t have to wait here.” Well he didn’t even like that and complained even more because the loaner would be “nothing like his Buick.” At this point he was just fighting with us about anything and everything because he didn’t like that we were the ones taking care of him. He even fought with us because we told him we would use expired service coupons and he didn’t even like that because “there’s an expiration date on the coupons for a reason.”

He said that our company was better when the old service manager was still working here and that he was a great man and asked us if we knew him. We both said no we didn’t work at the company when he was employed here, which makes him say to us, “Oh I know that. You wouldn’t be working here if [old service manager] still worked here. Where is [current service manager]?” We told him that the service manager was on lunch and he just huffed at us and walked away to the parts department counter and left us alone for the most part. The part about this that pissed me off the most was that after he was disrespectful to me and Rainie, he went over to talk to the parts manager (who is a man) and started talking badly about us so we could hear it and started treating him like they were old buddies. Any man that he encountered he was best friends with!

I have dealt with a lot of disrespect over the years while working at various places, but this was just on a new level. This man straight up told us that women should not be working in the car service industry. If that isn’t sexist or discrimination in any way then I don’t know what is. Usually I see stuff of Facebook about how a certain someone was treated in a sexist way and I don’t really think anything of it, but when it happened to me it really hurt my feelings and felt super degrading. Next time I see something like that on social media I definitely won’t just think nothing of it because being discriminated against because of your gender honestly hurts.

I want to end this post on a good note, so let me finish the story and tell you what happened with the customer! After the customer went into the waiting area, our boss came back from lunch. I immediately went up to him to tell him what had happened to us. We gave him the customers name and my boss said that he has been a problem customer for years and has caused problems with people in service and sales. My boss went to the front of the store to the sales department to tell the sales manager what had happened. Right then and there the managers decided that this customer was no longer welcomed to come to our dealership for any type of service. The sales manager had a talk with the customer who then became furious and started swearing and insulting the sales manager who was being completely professional to the customer. The customer ended his time here with us by saying, “I will use all my money and all my resources to take this company down.” Okay buddy, good luck with that!

At the end of the day, I was super thankful that my boss and the sales manager defended us and told the customer to never come back. Treating people who work in customer service like shit is disgusting. We work hard to make sure your experience at our dealership is the best it possibly could be, even in a situation like that where we get a disrespectful customer. I know my company is the best company I could ever work for because of how they stood up for us and made us feel valued. Just remember women can do anything and everything in any profession, whether it be an airline pilot or a service advisor at a car dealership. There is no room for sexism and disrespect in my world and I will forever stand up for myself and other women who get discriminated in any way.

Taylor Hagemann
Taylor Hagemann
Read next: The State
Taylor Hagemann

Taylor is a mental health/lifestyle blogger who love to share her story! She thrives on telling her stories in complete honesty and hold nothing back when it comes to her life.

See all posts by Taylor Hagemann