I was driving to work, listening to the Elvis Duran show, like I always do in the mornings, when the Phone Tap segment came on. Usually, I laugh, or shake my head because I cannot believe people get so worked up about things, and/or fall for the horrific accents and super fake ideas…..but this one was a little different.
The man being pranked was elderly – his granddaughter ( a tween) had written into the show and told them that he likes to “sample” things from the grocery store: Bananas, grapes, cherries, Twinkies, etc. without paying, and that it would catch up with him some day. (Even a tween knows this is wrong!)
On this particular phone tap, one of the female co-hosts was pretending to be the manager of the grocery store. She called the man, confronted him about it, and told him he was stealing. She was insistent that what he’s doing is illegal, and they had it on video camera that he would eat produce and never pay for it. He would get arrested the next time he did it.
The man was getting angry with her, telling her he is a veteran of World War II, and it’s not stealing…can’t someone who served his country eat a banana while he gets groceries? We’d all be speaking German if it weren’t for him! He went to war for his country – he and his friends protected the freedom she has to call him and yell at him for stealing food. And it’s not stealing! It’s just eating some fruit!
After a while, where she was arguing it doesn’t matter who you are because it’s still stealing, he said “Let me speak to the man you work for.”
“Yes, you work for a man. Let me speak to him.”
She told him she’s the manager; she doesn’t work for a MAN. He started calling her “little girl,” and he was angry she was calling him and accusing him of stealing and doing something illegal. Most of his arguments were just confirming that he knew it was wrong – he was getting defensive and making excuses. She fired back by saying “Listen Old Man,” and he kept interrupting her, saying “Little Girl.”
He then yelled, “If I were a young man, you wouldn’t be speaking to me that way!”
She said, “Of course I would. If you were a young man, I’d still call you and yell at you for stealing food!”
“If I were a young man, you wouldn’t be speaking to me like this because you wouldn’t have a job! Back then we knew women were too emotional to handle work like this!”
********************It’s ok….you go ahead and process that for a minute.
I had two very major problems with this. While I usually give the elderly, and especially vets a break, it does not give you a free pass to do whatever you want. If you stole a car and got caught, would you say, “I served my country, you’d be speaking German if it weren’t for me, officer?”
(As a side note, based on recent interactions, I am also inclined to think that many of those who served in the 1940’s forget that we’ve been at war for over a decade now. Kids are still going abroad to die in the sand…just not the sands of Normandy this time. And just because they didn’t fight Hitler doesn’t mean that their service means anything less.)
My second problem with this shocked me – I am the last person that you would consider a feminist. I don’t get easily riled up by things that I read on the internet about the stupidity of most of our country, and the world. And while I know I am paid less than my male counterparts, I’m more or less ok with that because I can usually get what I want in other areas. These boobs have worked their magic many times, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I was actually furious that he immediately thought she worked for a man, that he kept calling her “Little Girl,” and that “back then, they knew better.” This man was obviously upset he had been caught and was getting in trouble for it – so he insulted her, threatened her, and tried to play the vet and age card. As a huge proponent of personal responsibility, I was appalled that someone with that much life experience was trying to finagle his way out of accepting the consequences of his actions – and even more dumbfounded that he was resorting to juvenile techniques to try and guilt her into rescinding the accusations.
Towards the end of the call, she admitted it was a joke, and the man laughed and hung up. Usually the other hosts comment on the call, but they couldn’t even say anything about it. I started to think about how he couldn’t accept that she was the manager, and how back then, they all knew better than to put a woman in a position of power.
Then, I had an epiphany: I felt like I finally figured out why it’s taking so long for women to realize equal professional and social footing. For years, it’s been the mantra that women are the weaker sex, they can’t handle things or think for themselves, and the men have to take care of them. I made myself sick to my stomach thinking about all the times older men at work treated me that way – I used to shrug it off, figuring they were sick and/or in pain, but I began to realize that wasn’t exactly what it was: The older generations that still believe in The Old Boys Club. I started thinking some more, and came to the realization that it’s unfortunate, but it seems that until those ideas literally die out, it will be challenging to make headway in the struggle for parity with men. We, as women, have been digging ourselves out of the hole the men threw us into for over half a century…and we still have a long way to go. We’ve been fighting our own good fight, but I think that now, I am finally willing to join this war.