09 February, 2011

5 Things you Wouldn’t Believe Happened to Me - But Did

This blog is split into parts. The overall title is called:
5 Things you Wouldn’t Fucking Believe Happened to me - but Did

Miniblog Series 1: It’s a Man’s World, Baby

In case I have never been clear about myself let me make myself perfectly clear now: I am a female geek. I mean, I know there are geekier women out there but I'm pretty geeky. I’ve always been drawn to nerdy shit; My dad used to get Nintendo products through his work when I was just a kid, like 5, and I remember having two of those old grey brick Gameboys and all the games for SNES.

When I was growing up I played mad video games. I would play them all the time. And as a girl, I was asked to go to the mall a lot, or I was called on the phone, sleepovers etc. I had female priorities, but I also had instinctual ones; namely pwning mad noobs. I remember getting the new Zelda Majora’s Mask when it came out, and I was obsessed. I was dating some dumbass at the time and he had called my house and asked for me, and my mom came down to the basement (nerd lair) to get me. This is literally how the conversation went:

Mom - “It’s for you, it’s whatshisface.”

Me – I'm busy

Mom – What do I tell him then?

Me – Tell him I'm busy (playing Majora’s Mask, never looking up once)

Mom – But what do I tell him you’re busy doing?

Me – Playing Zelda

Mom – I can’t tell him that

Me – Then hang up

I have no idea if my mom hung up or said something because I just heard her walk up the stairs. I'm pretty sure that was the last time that guy called me, which was fine, because when it comes to Zelda you will lose… Every time. This is coincidentally the same conversation that would happen if you asked me to pick between Jeff Goldblum and ANYTHING ON THE PLANET.

Someone - “Oh Amanda, your house is burning down and you have the choice between saving a basket of baby animals and Jeff Goldblum”

Me – “What kind of animals?”

Someone else – “Cats”

Me – “Jeff I'm coming!

No I'm just kidding; I would’ve picked Jeff Goldblum anyway.



Anyway what was I talking about? Oh right. I have chopped this blog up into 5 pieces to talk about the 5 things you won’t believe happened to me but did.

Miniblog Story #1: The Customer

So I worked at Best Buy for a long time, a couple years or so in between university. I was kind of the Jack-of-all-Trades there, I was put into every department possible, they just hired me back on and stuck me wherever so I would have a job. Most of the time I was in the cell phone/iPod department, which is where I stayed the majority of the time I was in school. I was in school studying Communications and Information Technology, and Applied Computing. Already I was kind of setting myself up for a life of “but you’re a girl!” but that was okay with me because I knew I could do it.

The summer is a very hectic time for our computer department, because kids going back to school upgrade and buy new computers, so the employees are stretched kind of thin. Our GM knew I was into computers and going to school for them, and they just needed just another body to stand in there and grab things, but knowledge was a bonus. So one night he asked me to stay in the computer department to cover someone’s break, so I went willingly because I loved computers and I actually knew what I was talking about. It’s kind of late in the evening, maybe around 7pm, and the traffic had died down, and it was somewhat dead in the store until two older guys (mid to late 40’s) come wandering into the department. I went up to them and said hi and if they needed help.

Immediately I noticed them staring at me, I couldn’t tell what it was but I knew something was going on, so I just smiled. One of them was looking around the department and said they needed to know about some model computer we sold and I offered to take them to it and tell them more about it. The second guy looks at me and asks “You work here right?” And I said of course I did, you would be amazed at the number of times I got asked if I worked there wearing a best buy uniformed polo and khakis. The first guy, tentatively, asks if I knew anything about computers, and I said I was studying computers as part of my degree, and I am very knowledgeable. The second guy then asks if there was anyone else working in the department, without looking me in the eye the whole time. I said not at the moment, but I would be happy to help you. The first guy then uttered the words: “Is there a man here we can talk to?”

At this point I don’t remember if the look on my face said shock or disgust, so I walked to the Geek Squad room where my GM was, and right away he looked at me and said “what happened?” I explained that there were two men here who felt uncomfortable talking to a woman about computers, and they specifically asked to speak to a man.” My GM at this point said “Are you fucking kidding me?” and walked out of the Geek room. I walked to the break room and just sat there for a bit. Later that night one of the other employees commented the two men probably said that because I looked like Barbie.

That was one of the most degrading experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I felt like my self-worth was cut in half even though I could guarantee I knew more about computers then 90% of the department, most of whom were all teenage kids. It was like how I looked trumped everything else, and made me feel so small, and for the first time in my life (unknowingly not the last), I felt like the road I was on may not be the easiest road to brave, but I was going to do it anyway. And I did. In 2009 I graduated (with Honours) with a 4 year Communications and Digital Culture (formally I.T.) Degree with a minor in Applied Computing. 16 people were in my specialization, and there was just one woman. Can you guess who that was? Damn right it was me.

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