This one is for the men…or maybe the ladies…aww, hell its for everyone.
For starters I’m going to start off by saying that as I started to write this, I had just experienced my third sexual harassment moment of the day. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at the fact that each instance was from a different category of harassment. It’s almost as if the universe was saying “hey, want to know what you should write about next?” It’s been a few days and I’ve calmed down but I still feel this all needs to be said.
Some days on the road are better than others. I generally try to keep this blog positive but I’m about to lay down a bit of truth about life on the road as a woman trucker, but in all actuality it’s really just about life as a woman regardless of where you are or what you do and it’s a bit of a rant and just needing to get all of this off my chest.
I’ll start you out easy with whistles and cat calls.
Whistling or cat calling aren’t a way to tell a woman you find them good looking. In all honesty, we (and I’m speaking for the majority of women I know) don’t find it flattering when you whistle at us or yell out to us. I for one will always respond with a one fingered salute at a minimum or I will gladly walk over and give you a piece of my mind while most likely shredding any dignity you might have. I hope for your sake it’s the former and not the latter because as I’ve been told I can be right intimidating when pushed. Today it was the one finger salute and a yell out of “F Off”.
For the most part, when you whistle at or yell things at a woman it shows you have no self control. It also tells us you don’t really respect us. If you have no self control and no respect, why in the hell should we give you the time of day? If you get upset at a woman not genuflecting at your feet after you yell out something trite like “Damn look at that hot ass” or “Girl you fine” then it’s probably not the woman as much as it is your method of delivery. Ask any woman in your life how they feel about being yelled at. Hell, ask any woman in your life what it’s like to be a woman and the crap they’ve had to go through their entire life and you might understand.
Next, your hands. These should never be placed upon another person or any of their possessions (especially the clothes covering their bodies) without their permission. That goes for men, women, and children. There is no grey area here and no exception. If you want to see a person’s tattoo that is partially covered by a piece of clothing, ask them. They will most likely show you since most people are proud of their ink. What you should never do is move someone’s clothing to look at their ink without their consent. I’m sorry, if I feel someone touching me (as I did today) without my knowledge or permission I will turn into a honey badger, and honey badger don’t care.
I will probably (again as I did today) respond with violence. A slap at minimum, a full beat down if I’m really in a foul mood. The man who decided to grab at the back of my shirt to get a closer look at my tattoo probably wasn’t expecting to end up with a stinging face and a stumble from a shove but then again I wasn’t expecting to be pawed at or touched without my consent so we both got something we didn’t want or expect.
His stunned look and stammering excuse of “I just wanted to look at your tattoo” got a very loud response of “Don’t you ever put your hands on another person with out asking asshole. If you want to see my ink, ask. You’re lucky you’re still breathing.”
The stunned silence in the truck stop was impressive and more than one person moved out of my way as I stormed out after paying for my purchases. No one came to my defense. No one came to his defense. I think everyone was in shock except for me. I was seething with a blind rage.
Lastly, and this was kind of my last straw. If you don’t know a woman’s name the acceptable way to address them is Ms/Miss or even a ma’am. Calling a woman Darling, Gorgeous, Sexy, or any other derogatory term is well, derogatory. I can ignore most things, I just choose not to. When I’m called any of those adjective instead of a proper greeting that place emphasis on my looks, well then I feel like an object not a person. I can either choose to ignore it or say something about it. Those of you who know me will know I will usually take the former rather than the latter any day. When this happens in my current business, I really take offense to it.
That is why the following conversation happened.
Dockworker: Hey Gorgeous, you can back into door 19
Dockworker: I’m sorry?
Me: You can call me Driver if you don’t know my name. If you don’t want to call me driver you can call me Miss or Ma’am or you can ask my name which is Tj by the way. I don’t respond to gorgeous.
Dockworker: (laughs nervously) Uh, I wasn’t…
Me: Trying to be sexist? Well you failed.
With that I started my truck to move it to door 19. After I was unloaded the same dockworker came out to give me my paperwork.
Dockworker: Here’s you paperwork gor…um driver.
After a moment of doing the above I wished him a good rest of his evening and left.
Here’s the deal with all of that. When I’m picking up, driving, or delivering I’m essentially at work. I get that I don’t dress, act, or look like other drivers on the road. All of that is irrelevant in my eyes. I’m still at work. Yes I know I’m an anomaly. Yes I know that some women may be flattered by this kind of attention. I am not.
I had a conversation with another driver about this and asked how he would feel if he had a dockworker talk to him like that. His immediate response was to say if it was by a male dockworker the would be offended because he’s not gay.
I’ve given this a lot of thought over the last couple of days and realized that the reaction is kinda the same. He would be offended because he’s not gay and doesn’t want the attention of a man that way. I’m offended because I also don’t want the attention of a man that way regardless of sexual orientation. Is it such a hard concept to wrap your head around?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still feel safe on the road and I’ve yet to really feel in danger. I’ve heard of many women drivers who have all sorts of weapons and deterrents just in case. Me, I’ve just never been the type to feel I need a weapon to feel safe.
To quote Ani DiFranco, “Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.” My weapon is my mind and my determination and those are really the only weapons that matter to me.
I’ve left Calgary behind. I didn’t get to do what I wanted due to getting a bit of a tummy bug. Maybe this made me a bit more sharp when dealing with people.
Let me say that being sick in a truck sucks. It doesn’t matter what kind of sickness it is, it all sucks when you’re in a truck.
After picking up a load of apples again from Washington, I’m heading down to Alabama. I have a lot of time on this run so I’m taking it easy, having short days, and conserving my energy. I’m ready for my next break which will be in Denver at the end of the month to hang with my daughter for her birthday. I’m looking forward to getting out of this truck for a couple of days and do normal things. Lately I’ve been feeling like Stabby McKnife.
Thanks for reading my rant. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.