This f*cking dude in the elevator today
Today at work, I was walking with a (male) co-worker/friend from a meeting back to our offices and he was carrying a heavy crate. This got me talking about how I (sarcastically) don’t understand how men carry things because I always carry things on my hips — crates, boxes, laundry baskets — and most men don’t have the good fortune of having childbearing hips that double as shelves. We got on an elevator with a few businessmen in suits we’ve never seen before who work at a different company in the building and we continued our conversation:
Me: Like babies! When I pick up a kid, I naturally put them on my hip. Where do dudes put kids?
Co-worker/friend: That’s why I don’t have kids. Nowhere to put ‘em.
*awkward silence as we have no idea how to carry on this conversation surrounded by these random men*
Then as the elevator door opens for these guys, one of them looks at me as he’s leaving and says:
“Don’t worry. You’ll find somewhere to put kids when you have them. Your parents did!”
I have played this scene through in my head over and over today and just keep getting angrier. Basically this man’s “reassurance” led me to say, “What the fuck just happened?” about eight different ways. Let’s break this down.
- Starting with the obvious: what this guy said made no sense. Find somewhere to put kids? I just explained that I put them on my hip? What?
- Assuming his comment made some logical sense, it didn’t fit in the context of our conversation. I wasn’t expressing any concern over having kids, nor was I even talking about having kids at all. Really quite a left turn of a comment.
- “when you have them” ← WOW. Unpack that for a sec. Glad to see random elevator suit guy can see the fucking future.
- Referencing my parents seems like a bold move. What if I was raised by a single parent? Or I was adopted? Or had two moms or two dads? I’m guessing those don’t fit in what he’s talking about, even though let’s not forget I still have no idea what the hell this guy meant.
- What qualifications does this guy have to give advice to a woman on childbearing?
- Maybe I already have kids? You don’t know, Random Elevator Suit Guy.
- To top it all off, Random Elevator Suit Guy said NOTHING to my male co-worker/friend who was the only one between the two of us that actually said he didn’t have kids.
After playing and replaying this in my head and spinning in a mental anger whirlpool, here’s my conclusion. This 30/40-somethings man who had never met me overheard me say something about children and decided that:
(A) I did not have kids
(B) I want to have kids
(C) I am able to have kids
(D) I am concerned about having kids
(E) I needed reassured about having kids
(F) And he was the one to do it
(G) But also, this childless guy with her is none of his concern
I imagine he walked out of the elevator and continued the rest of his day with a sense of pride over reassuring a poor young girl that her dreams of becoming a mother one day will be fulfilled and it will all be okay. All of this makes me irately angry at living in a society where any of this seems not only okay, but good, helpful, and in no way condescending or sexist.
Honestly, my only hopes at this point are that he thought I was a guy and I was worried about where to put kids because I didn’t have these hips I was referring to, which means he’s a terrible listener but really all about turning gender norms on their head, or he had a brain aneurysm as he was about to speak to me, in which case I sincerely hope he’s doing okay.