Someone recently asked me, "When was the first time you felt discriminated against for being female?"
I wanted to provide a good answer, but I couldn't. Sexism happens often enough that it would be impossible to remember a specific first time.
I could discuss the way people treat me when I play ball sports. Or perhaps the frequent interruptions and “manpropriation” most women experience. Or perhaps that time I was trying to get help for a drowning friend, only to be told I’m very beautiful and asked if he is my boyfriend or just a friend. (And other delightful questions, like, "Are you sharing a hotel room?" "Are you sharing a bed, or do you have separate beds?")
But one time I would say I pretty consistently experience sexism is when I visit a mechanic. It's annoying enough that I try to get a guy to go with me, just so no one tries to rip me off.
Let me share a recent example.
In 2013, I bought a new car battery that came with a 36-month warranty. After 32 months, I started having some electrical problems that I deduced were caused by the battery. Remembering the mechanic's promise:
"If anything goes wrong -- if you even just leave the lights on and the battery died -- bring it in and we'll replace it."
I took it back to the shop and told the guy what was going on. He gladly replaced the battery… then brought me a bill for $113!
“This is actually still covered under the warranty. It should be free,” I told him.
“Yeah,” he replied. “But it’s basically been 36 months since you bought the battery.”
“It’s June. The warranty is good until October.”
It took a little convincing, but eventually he honored the warranty. Nevertheless, it was truly bizarre having someone try to convince me that four months and zero months were "basically" the same thing.
My boyfriend was out of town, and urgently needed to get his smog check. You know, lest he be fined. So I went online and found a cheap place near me and booked a time for my $35 smog check.
I took his car to the right place at the right time. The guy did the smog check...
And then he brought me a bill for $79.
I told him it was supposed to be $35. He said it was $79. I showed him the confirmation email, which contained the $35 quote. Luckily, that was all the convincing it took. But still.
Twice in a month -- should I chalk it up to coincidence?