“Cheese eater” is not a good password hint. Trust me on that.

Saturday, I survived another trip to the Apple Store. My experiences there have been a little mixed over the years. Saturday? It was fine in the grand scheme of things. But I was on edge at the end of it. Wondering why I didn’t just order the darn thing on-line. Why did I think that making a trip to the Apple Store to buy a computer would be a better experience? I don’t know.

When a salesperson finally became free enough to help us (and it *was* busy!), almost as soon as he opened his mouth, I started to get nervous. Why? This is going to be hard to explain, I think. Let’s see if I can do it. We walked in there knowing exactly what we wanted, which was basically the newest and most powerful 13″ Apple laptop there is. To replace a creaky old 12″ G4 powerbook. So, why, when I said, “We want to buy *that*!” did he start asking questions? What are you going to use it for? Are you going to use it for this or that or whatever? Well. It is going to be used largely for the same things the G4 powerbook has been used for, except that the G4 powerbook can barely do any of those things any more because it is five years old and yada yada.

I know these people are trained to sell computers and that this young man was just doing his job. And trying to be helpful. Many customers need that. Me? It just put me on edge. It made me feel like he had sized me up as a baggy old bag who didn’t know anything about computers. (And Mouse as a ditzy young woman who didn’t know much of anything. Dangereuse assumption that.) I could feel myself getting panicky. With great difficulty, I squelched the urge to start stammering about how I was working in the IT industry back when this kid was probably in diapers. Writing FORTRAN programs on a DecWriter II hooked up to a mainframe somewhere via a 300 baud modem. Or faaarrrin’ up the old Apple II+ so my toddler could play Sticky Bear ABC. Or all of the Apple computers I used in between jobs to manage non-profit organizations, all on my own dime. Or about the loverly systems analyst job I have now, after an almost 15 year hiatus from gainful employment. I *did* stammer out something about how high my family’s stack of Apple laptops is getting to be. He looked at me like I was nuts.

I think what bothers me is still related to how hard I had to work to gain any kind of respect back when I was young, thin, and blonde in my first IT career. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about them thar computers when I got hired. The truth is that the guy who hired me was told to by *his* boss and I’m sure he didn’t want to but I will be eternally grateful that he took a chance on me. Because I *loved* (and *love*) computer work. And I was (am) good at it. Except for the stuff I’m not good at. Networks? Yuck! Hubs and waarrrrrs? Not. And then there’s all the the stuff I don’t know, which is a LOT! But given the time, tools, file permissions, and a nice soft place to bang my head, I can learn anything.

Pleeeease. Everyone. Just because someone is female, old and baggy or young and stylish, doesn’t mean that they don’t have at least some basic knowledge of computer technology (or any other knowledge, fer kee-reist). The Apple Store is a trivial example. We were just trying to buy something, so it wasn’t a long term relationship. Probably next time I will order on-line and forgo all of the uncomfortable face-to-face conversations. But what about job-seekers? I worked so hard back in the 1980s to gain a little respect and I had quite a bit of success but it took some years. What about today’s young women? Women my daughters’ ages. When I hear about the job-seeking experiences of some of the young female college graduates that I know, I sometimes think that we have not come very far at all. That is all I will say.

One Response to ““Cheese eater” is not a good password hint. Trust me on that.”

  1. Margaret Says:

    Amen–it’s a hard world out there and especially difficult for those 20 somethings. Ashley is small, thin and has a little girl sort of voice,plus looks about 15. It’s hard to get any respect!! (she’s not blond though) 😉