I’m a woman who goes to the dump. Pretty regularly.
In the spring and summer, it’s to drop off grass clippings. In the fall and winter, it’s to drop off recyclables or clothing for goodwill or motor oil or occasionally trash.
If you go to the dump a fair amount, you discover things about the guys who work there. For one, if I dress nicely, wear makeup, and do my hair, they are friendly to me. Sometimes, they’ll help me if I have a particularly large load to throw into the big trash hole.
However, if I’m wearing yoga pants, a T-shirt, no makeup and my hair up, I get ignored. That happened today.
A huge garbage truck with its back open and rolling out incredibly stinky trash filled the bay of the trash dump. I had a few things to throw into the hole, so I squeezed my way around the truck and threw my things from a distance to avoid the falling trash, which was littering the clear part of the bay by the hole.
The dump guy saw me trying to manage my load of junk and barely glanced at me with a snide expression before looking away. I know that if I’d looked more feminine, he’d have at the very least asked if I needed help. Or asked the garbage truck guy to stop the unloading for a few seconds while I threw my stuff into the hole.
It’s not as though I need help, but it irritates me that they are so willing to help a woman if she plays the girly-girl role. Or if she’s 19 years old.
Last summer, I took my 19-year old daughter with me to the dump to dispose of some motor oil. To do this, one has to open the tank, pour in the oil from the oil pan. The trick is to accomplish this without getting covered in motor oil. I never get away clean. When I saw a guy standing by the oil tank, I told my daughter to take the pan over and ask if he could show her what to do. She fought me on this but finally agreed to go when I told her if he didn’t help her, I’d come over and do it for her. I may have also promised to take her out to lunch or buy her something from Free People.
Well, surprise, surprise. She asked and he didn’t show her how to do it. He took the pan from her and poured the oil into the tank all by himself, smiling at her to make sure she had her eyes on him. Then he wiped the pan with a paper towel before giving it back to my daughter.
She came away without a touch of oil on her; I, however, left feeling extremely dirty. What kind of feminist mom teaches her daughter to flirtatiously ask a man to do a dirty job so she doesn’t have to do it?
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