There was a period of my life, around the ages of 17 to 20, where I was all fired up about being an EMPOWERED WOMAN. I spent hours reading Gloria Steinem and The Golden Notebook. I was full of passion and energy, otherwise known as piss and vinegar. I was ready to teach those men a lesson! YEEHAW!
It was during this time one summer that I took a waitressing job at the local Cafe and Supper Club. It was seven days a week of serving coffee and gossip to farmers, their wives and the "townfolk". All 261 of them. Like most small towns (or villages, if you will), the majority of the population consists of fairly conservative, even old-fashioned, types. I had one particular customer who, for all intents and purposes, we will call Joe. Mainly because Joe was his name.
Every day Joe walked into the cafe, took the same seat at the counter, ordered coffee and a slice of pie, and left a quarter for a tip. Big spender. He was somewhere between the age of 60 and 90. I really couldn't tell you much more than that because having children melted my brain. Every day, along with his routine, he served up daily doses of pet names to me. Honey, Sugar, Sweetie and Baby where among my many alias' that summer. As a young hothead who was exploring feminism to add as one of my multiple personalities, this lack of ability to use my actual name irritated the living crap out of me.
One day I reached my breaking point. To the amusement of the kitchen staff and other patrons, I proceeded to attempt to teach the old codger a lesson.
The following two minutes went like so,
Joe, "Hey sweetie. What kind of pie do you have today?"
Me, "What's that? You want sweetener for you coffee?"
Joe, chuckling, "No honey, I asked about the kinds of pie."
Me, "You want me to bring you tea with honey?"
Joe, laughing, "No sugar, I just wondered about the pie!"
Me, indignant, "Joe. I have a name. It is not Honey, Sweetie or Sugar. You can call me Jo, which is the same as your name, so it should be fairly easy to remember."
Joe, chuckling, "Okay Baby, now how about that pie?"
My words were clearly lost on this old coot. Some people are capable of change and others only carry it in their pocket. Joe, obviously the latter, doubled my normal tip to 50 cents that day.