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Today I received the most scathing and hurtful insult that I have actually felt in quite a long time. I was told that my sexism was interfering with my ability to be professional. This apparently stemmed from two things:

At some point in the last few days, one of my female customers at the coffee shop overheard me call one of my friends 'hon' when she (the friend) came in for some quiet study time. The customer (who is nameless at this point, even to me) apparently took offense to me calling this friend of mine by a familiariaty instead of her name. The customer then complained to Lisa yesterday about me and stated that she felt I was being sexist. Some students that were in the shop at the time overheard her complaining to Lisa and made the remark "Yeah, it's not like we're in a diner in Indiana, and he's not a grandmother." and "No kidding... I know I'm not his 'hon'!"

First off, I'd like to say that I have called many people hon over the years, and none of them have actually been 'my hon', and many of them were my male friends. That is a familiarity that I use amongst my friends to indicate a level of caring above the random pedestrian off of the street. Secondly, none of the poeple that I call 'hon' on a regular basis take offense at it. Ever. If I have called you hon in the past, you were offended by it, and are reading this, please post a comment to correct me.

When I am in a professional/corporate setting, I would not dream of using it, not even to my friends there. That would detract from the level of professionalism at the workplace. I understand that. However, when I am working at a coffee house, it is my profession to make people feel comfortable, welcome, and caffeinated. I feel that I can do that better if I am friends with the customers than if I maintain a stiff, Corporate Professional manner towards them. During the 2 years that I managed a cigarette store and the three years that I worked at Insomnia Coffeeshop I called hundreds of people 'hon' because it set the tone of friends instead of server/customer.

I would like to add that there are currently 5 other people that work at that coffeeshop besides myself, but that they are all female. Out of those 5, 3 of them use the same sort of familiarity with the customers. That, apparently, is acceptable simply because they are female. And I was accused of sexism? Hold the phone a minute, I'll expand on that. It seems to be acceptable in these people's minds for a female to call people by familiarities, and even more so for elderly women. But when I male does the same thing, on the same level, to the same people, it's sexist. I see that as an extremely sexist mind-set in and of itself.
sex·ism n.
1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.

That is the first definition that comes up when you look up 'sexism' at dictionary.com. I agree with the second one, but I find it ironic that the first definition of the word "sexism" is sexist in and of itself.

I really did take offense to this entire thing, and as such, I will be circulating my resume more vigorously. I do not want to leave the shop, but if people's closemindedness in reference to me is going to cause them to think badly about the shop, I would rather leave. I do not want to give the coffeeshop a bad name just because of a misconception in the mind of some femi-nazi. I do not use that term lightly, or very often, but in this case I think it is truly the closest to the truth about the customer that complained. I also do not mean it to be offensive, simply descriptive of the stereotype that she was displaying.

As of today, I have switched back into 'Corporate Professionalism' and will remain so until I find somewhere else to sling coffeegounds or whatever work I do end up finding. I do not make this decision lightly, or easily, but I do not see that I was left with much choice. I will still be friendly, but not nearly to the level that I have been. I will likely not get articles written about me in the SF Bay Guardian calling me the 'preternaturally nice...spirit of the coffeehouse experience' or any other such thing.

I also regret that at this point I will not be hanging out at the shop anymore and will only be there when I am on the clock so as to not display my friendliness to the customers that might take offense. Since I do not know who complained to Lisa (the owner) to start with, this is my recourse of action.

I now open this up to general discussion and debate if you people so wish to comment.



( 126 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 11th, 2003 11:11 pm (UTC)
One of the reasons why SF and the bay area piss me the fuck off is the level of PC attitude is taken to the extermist. I will liken them to Muslims who follow Osama Bin Laden. I'm not kidding.

When I was working for slip.net, all of our servers were named after four legged animals. Our mail server was beaver. We had several complaints from women customers who declared we were being sexist and/or pornographic in the naming of our mail server.

I'm not kidding.
Dec. 11th, 2003 11:55 pm (UTC)
fuck you
How many of those women bombed your headquarters or threw acid in your face?
Re: fuck you - academichussy - Dec. 11th, 2003 11:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you - kragen - Dec. 12th, 2003 12:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you - academichussy - Dec. 12th, 2003 12:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Your opinion - rebbyribs - Dec. 12th, 2003 12:35 am (UTC) - Expand
Notice the "Non-standard," that means wrong. - (Anonymous) - Dec. 23rd, 2003 09:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you - marieofroumania - Dec. 28th, 2003 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you - digitalgoth - Dec. 28th, 2003 08:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you - writingstatic - Jan. 6th, 2004 05:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you - digitalgoth - Jan. 7th, 2004 02:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 11th, 2003 11:33 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't be offended by you calling me 'hon', but it might make me uncomfortable if someone I barely knew used the term. (But probably much less uncomfortable if the person was grandmotherly looking and obviously not hitting on me.)

I think it might be wise to consider your boss's reaction. Any coffeeshop type of place is going to have a wide range of customers, including some who are way too easily offended. Was your boss upset with you, or did she just calmly tell you about the incident?

If you want to be friendly to the customers you know well, maybe try calling them by their names - it's nice, and it also shows that you know them and have respect for them. I wouldn't think that someone overhearing it would be offended either, but what do I know?
Dec. 11th, 2003 11:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Urgh!
Lisa's reaction was very neutral, but she also was not smiling. I understand that perfectly. If it were my shop, I would have done the same thing if put in her shoes.

I do call the ones I know by name. But I am REALLY bad with names and ofttimes have to be reminded 3 or 4 times before it really sinks in. I consider that a courtesy, and not really friendliness.

I wouldn't have thought that someone overhearing me calling someone hon would be offended... but I've been proven wrong. I'd rather not tread the line at this point. I am simply going to play it safe and call those who's names I know by their names and everyone else by sir or ma'am.

Re: Urgh! - rebbyribs - Dec. 12th, 2003 12:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Urgh! - thejew - Dec. 12th, 2003 12:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Urgh! - digitalgoth - Dec. 24th, 2003 06:50 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Urgh! - thejew - Dec. 24th, 2003 07:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Urgh! - digitalgoth - Dec. 24th, 2003 07:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 12th, 2003 12:01 am (UTC)
I call EVERYONE 'hon' or 'babe' or 'chicky'. Everyone. And those who get offended are taking themselves WAYYYYY TOO SERIOUSLY, and I tell them so.
Dec. 12th, 2003 11:19 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you hon.

Dec. 12th, 2003 12:01 am (UTC)
no offense dude, but your in FUCKING CALIFORNIA.

im surprised you havent run into this already. i had some chick nearly tear my head off (yeah, i said CHICK, suck it) for a similar situation. that was here, but she was from cali.

and the reply by the other customers/students, god, i would have hopped the counter and gotten in their faces and told then to stop being so fat and gay, just to watch their pc heads explode :-P
Dec. 12th, 2003 12:42 am (UTC)
fuck you too
It's because of bigoted, troglodyte jackasses like you that the rest of us have to deal with these hypersensitive, fragile microcephalics that complain when they overhear Jay calling his friends "hon". Because they confuse him with you.
Re: fuck you too - thejew - Dec. 12th, 2003 12:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - kragen - Dec. 12th, 2003 01:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - rockmypunk - Dec. 12th, 2003 01:38 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - digitalgoth - Dec. 12th, 2003 12:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - rockmypunk - Dec. 12th, 2003 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - digitalgoth - Dec. 12th, 2003 10:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - rockmypunk - Dec. 12th, 2003 10:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - digitalgoth - Dec. 12th, 2003 10:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - lordlucan - Dec. 24th, 2003 05:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - digitalgoth - Dec. 24th, 2003 06:13 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too, and twice if you are a kike! - thejew - Dec. 12th, 2003 01:40 am (UTC) - Expand
fat gay sister-in-law - paisleychick - Dec. 12th, 2003 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fat gay sister-in-law - digitalgoth - Dec. 12th, 2003 10:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fat gay sister-in-law - kragen - Dec. 13th, 2003 01:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fat gay sister-in-law - jrbl - Dec. 17th, 2003 03:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fat gay sister-in-law - kwan_yin - Dec. 23rd, 2003 02:50 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fat gay sister-in-law - digitalgoth - Dec. 23rd, 2003 10:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: fuck you too - digitalgoth - Dec. 23rd, 2003 10:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - (Anonymous) - Dec. 27th, 2003 10:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fuck you too - digitalgoth - Dec. 28th, 2003 09:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: fuck you too - digitalgoth - Jan. 7th, 2004 02:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hatchling - Dec. 12th, 2003 01:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thejew - Dec. 12th, 2003 01:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hatchling - Dec. 12th, 2003 01:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ex_sinaesthe204 - Dec. 12th, 2003 04:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 12th, 2003 12:56 am (UTC)
isn't it interesting how little intent factors in? it's just the words, regardless of whether or not they're different words to different people.
Dec. 24th, 2003 06:59 am (UTC)
Re: funny
For the sake of completeness, I'm going through all the comments on this entry and responding to the ones that need it:

It's interesting how you're the only person that commented on how intent would change it. That's what I find truly interesting... teh fact that no one else even mentioned it, or the effect that my intent would have on me using the word 'hon' (or any other familiarity).

If my intent had been to flirt with her, then I could even understand the PC-Woman getting offended that I was wasting my work time flirting with a customer. It was not. I don't flirt at work. I never flirt at work. What irritated me was that she then assumed my intent. That was the sexist thing that happened at the shop... not me calling a friend 'hon'.

Oh well. It's done, over with. I'm going to find a new job as soon as the new year starts.

Dec. 12th, 2003 01:16 am (UTC)
You need to post debate topics more often. I haven't seen such a bloodbath since some chick called me a conservative.
Dec. 12th, 2003 12:38 pm (UTC)
No kidding. So tomorrow I'll try and find some other way to be politically incorrect in such a way that it offends or hits a nerve of someone so I can have something interesting to post instead of just more latin.

Dec. 12th, 2003 01:17 am (UTC)
This is, in fact, the very reason I bailed on LA in my early wandering years. Everyone is so hypersensitive/PC. That obviously doesn't apply to everyone, it is a broad generalisation.

However, even some of my most laid back mellow friends would dip into the sort of behavior you're describing, until someone said "Dude, how does that affect you?". A few momwnts of silence would follow, then "I'm not sure it does, sorry, kneejerk reaction."

Also, keep in mind you're at a coffee house, and though the bullshit may be of a slightly more self righteous flavor, coffee houses are STILL steeped in bullshit, almost anywhere you go. We've both worked a few coffee joints in our time, and that's the price people like you and I pay for genuinely showing respect and love for our fellow man/woman. People are going to assume we want something, are fake, or will just have a stick up their asses about certain things. Hell people used to be rude to me at Insom because and I quote, overhearing it from their mouth "... I don't know, he's a really sweet guy, but it pisses me off that he gets to work here, and knows everyone, and gets to do what he wants. So I fuck with him."

In other words don't let jack asses change who you are. Fuck PC. Fuck polite. The way you behave has made you many many friends, and soothed a lot of broken hearts, depressed minds, and bad days gone even worse. If one out of every 50 or even 10 people dislikes your attitude, why make the other 49 suffer because they're bitter and cranky?

-- .02, SPRK
Dec. 23rd, 2003 10:24 pm (UTC)
After quite some time to think and reflect on what you and everyone else has said on this thread, I've come to realize just how much I actually do like and respect my friends. Thank you Sparky.

(no subject) - djsparkydog - Dec. 23rd, 2003 10:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 12th, 2003 01:19 am (UTC)
I think the woman that took offense to such a small word like 'hon' seriously needs to lighten up. The last time I checked, 'hon' was used as a sign of endearment or sentiment, not sexism. Hell, if you wanted to be sexist, you could have just patted her ass when she walked by. And it also angers me that women can use that term around other women but as soon as a man does it, it is deemed inappropriate. This is an obvious sign of sexism coming from the females, not you. How juvenile. I'm sorry that you had to endure such petty controversy.

Dec. 24th, 2003 07:00 am (UTC)
For the sake of completeness, I'm going through all the comments on this entry and responding to the ones that need it:

I'm hoping that your holidays are going ok hon. I've been slacking on my LJ reading.

Dec. 12th, 2003 01:22 am (UTC)
Okay , Simple facts first.
1. I am a californian, born and raised.
2. Some feminine slurs do offened me ( ie: bitch , as in you that ho be my bitch , and slut , along with whore or cunt , and ...ho)
I worked in a coffee shop for some time while i was going through my medical training , my boss , who was male. referd to all the females as " love, sweetie, hon, darling , ect " and no one ever got offended , i see nothing wrong with calling someone hon, Its a tearm of an eadrment , whatever , I am on the stance that the lady needs to get a grip.
Dec. 12th, 2003 01:25 am (UTC)
You got in trouble because someone overheard you call someone else "hon"? In a coffee shop. That's just plain silly. My sympathies.

(Deleted comment)
Dec. 23rd, 2003 10:25 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you. In her mind it apparently wasn't over-reacting though, and apparently wasn't in the eyes of my boss either. The customer herself really isn't what I have a problem with, it's with the fact that the owner (lisa) took her seriously.

Dec. 12th, 2003 02:53 am (UTC)
Just call me Hon
I *like* it when folks in the service industry call me by a pet name like "hon", provided it's used in a spirit of hospitality and not lecherous creepiness. It does make me feel more welcome, and it helps offset some of the ambient hostility of the city. I appreciate that shit. You can call me "hon" any day.

Some people have too little else to worry about, if they have indignation to spare for something as sweetly-intentioned as "hon". They're probably also enraged by puppies.

-- Smartacus
Dec. 12th, 2003 12:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Just call me Hon
For note... I have called you hon. Twice that I can remember clearly at your last party. :)

Dec. 12th, 2003 03:09 am (UTC)
dumb cunt should get back in the kitchen.

there. THAT was sexism.
Dec. 23rd, 2003 10:26 pm (UTC)
I shouldn't laugh at that, but I did.

(no subject) - donnaidh_sidhe - Dec. 25th, 2003 04:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - digitalgoth - Dec. 28th, 2003 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - donnaidh_sidhe - Dec. 28th, 2003 09:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 12th, 2003 06:48 am (UTC)
wtf?! this is news to me...i call everyone "hon" male or female. since when is this a sexist name? i thought it was endearing!
Dec. 23rd, 2003 10:28 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Sorry for the late response, I've been backlogged a bit.

I agree that it's not sexist, but is instead simply a form of casual familiarity. I could care less what that particular customer thinks at this point, but the fact that Lisa (the boss) took her seriously enough to lecture me on it is what hurt. Oh well. I'm going job-hunting again after the holidays.

(Deleted comment)
Dec. 23rd, 2003 10:29 pm (UTC)


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