An Open Letter to the Guy in the Plumbing Department at Lowe's

Dear Guy at Lowe’s,

I’m sorry I don’t remember your name. Shit, women always apologize. I’m not going to apologize.

Let me start over.

Hey. Last week you helped my husband find some pieces to finish a drip line project for our yard. When you’d finished helping him, you looked at me and said enthusiastically, “Now you can go shoe shopping!”

My friend, we have a problem, and it’s a serious one.

I think I replied with, “I don’t go fucking shoe shopping.” I have a foul mouth. I was insulted. Sorry.


I’m not sorry. At all.

You were wrong to say that to me because it was packed with meaning, and everything you meant was wrong. You don't know me, and what you believed about me was totally wrong.

First, you assume that I actually GO shoe shopping. Wrong. At the time of your comment, I was sporting a pair of flip flops from Target that I bought for my daughter’s kindergarten commencement. She is now a 3rd grader. The last pair of shoes I purchased were for a wedding I went to in 2013. I don’t go shoe shopping, really.

Second, you assumed that I would rather go shoe shopping that go to a hardware store. Wrong again! I love the hardware store. I love nails and power tools and plants and lumber. I don't like department stores. I dislike, with great intensity, commercialism and purchasing stuff and buying new shoes when I have perfectly acceptable shoes at home that work just fine. Interestingly, I do ACTUALLY need new shoes, though. Maybe you noticed the sorry state of my flip flops… Why don’t I go shoe shopping then?

Third, you assumed that I had the money to go shoe shopping. Ugh, another wrong. We’ve been broke for a long time. And you know what? It’s OK. We’re working hard to make ourselves not-broke. You probably didn’t notice that my tank top was several years old and bore the always-present hole where my son’s leg wore it away against the button of my jeans. He just turned 6. I haven’t carried him for years. We had a little cash to spend on a DIY drip line and some plants. If we have a little money, I prioritize plants over shoes.

Fourth, you implied that shoe shopping would be my “reward” for slogging through the hardware store with my husband. This, my friend, is what pissed.me.off. I don’t get “rewarded” in my house. I’m equal. If I need shoes, I fucking buy them and I don’t ask permission. My husband’s needs do not come ahead of mine. I take care of my own shit. And for the life of me, I cannot imagine a level of hell more tortuous than going shoe shopping on a gorgeous Saturday. That ALONE would be awful, but with my husband? Fuck no!

I’m not alone.

This may shock you, but women enjoy a variety of different activities, but not all women enjoy the same activities. Let me put it a little differently: WOMEN ARE NOT ALL THE SAME.
The following is a list of activities that many women enjoy. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, exhaustive. Some women enjoy some of these activities. Not all women enjoy all these activities. Some women don't enjoy any of these activities, but enjoy other, unlisted activities.

  • hiking
  • running
  • sewing
  • cooking 
  • napping
  • travelling
  • carpentry
  • whittling
  • camping
  • gardening
  • rock climbing
  • soldering
  • weight lifting
  • glass blowing
  • computer programming
  • brewing beer
  • acting
  • auto racing
  • drinking beer
  • bridge building
  • watching sports
  • jewelry making
  • interior design
  • online gaming
  • cosplay
  • writing
  • painting
  • gambling
  • reading
  • mathematics
  • home improvement
  • learning
  • engineering
  • medicine
  • astronomy
  • photography
  • teaching
  • politics
  • horseback riding
  • film making
  • horse racing
  • family
  • animal husbandry
  • botany
  • neuroscience
  • construction
  • family
  • shoe shopping

You may feel compelled to defend yourself by labeling me “sensitive” or “over-reactive,” but I’ll remind you how offensive stereotypes are. You’re an older white guy. Some people might think that because you’re an older white guy, you’re a politically conservative bigoted racist who likes NASCAR and drinking beer. Maybe that’s you to the letter. Or maybe it’s not. I’m not going to make that assumption, because I don’t know anything about you beyond your job and your dumb comment. I know you said something without thinking about what the words meant, but they meant something. Let me clarify, once again, my point.
  • Women are not all the same.
  • Different people are different.
Each human you meet is a unique package of experiences, passions, likes, and dislikes that separates them from every other human on the planet.

So just stop.  Right now. Just stop.

If you think you know what’s going on inside a person’s head because of their gender, sex, race, perceived sexual orientation, clothing, religion, political affiliation, hair color, language, car they drive (or don’t), makeup, piercings, tattoos, shoes, handbags, where they live, their job, the way they write a post on Facebook – ALL OF IT - you are wrong. Just stop. You don't know.

I don’t know.

None of us, except that person, know.

If we assume we know, we’re being an asshole. My friend Janelle is fond of reminding me that “sometimes, we’re all the asshole.” It's OK to admit being the asshole. We all are because we're flawed humans. But we can all try to not be the asshole.

Let’s all commit to working a little harder on not being the asshole.



1 comment:

  1. Hi Natalie,

    First time visiting your blog…..I read this post and your two previous posts. First of all…let me congratulate you on how you express your emotions raw and uncensored. As for the comment that the gentleman at Lowe’s made….I suppose it depends on what the intents were behind his comment. Though out my life, I have received my harshest criticisms from people who had my best interest in mind and yet, at the time that I received them, I was less than pleased… in fact, I was pissed.

    As far the gentleman at Lowe’s is concerned…well… honestly, I think all he meant to say was that it’s “inappropriate for a lady to wear flip flops in public”.

    Sincerely yours



I like people who say nice things.