The other day at work, five women got into the elevator, followed by one man. He had said “ladies first,” as is encouraged by the company. Seriously, gender-based elevator access was discussed in my orientation. They do it because the company wants to be polite, and genteel, and because ovaries are magic.
He then said it was a delight to be in an elevator with five ladies.
I said, dryly, “Perhaps we should have let you get on the elevator first, since you’re the one who’s different.”
As it was coming out of my mouth, I thought, “Don’t say it. Some women really like getting on the elevators first.”
Thankfully, all the women on the elevator burst into appreciative laughter, because evidently I am not the only one tired of the “point out the freak woman” game at the elevator. (The man chuckled like a good sport who doesn’t know why everyone else is laughing.)
And I know, it’s convenient to get on the elevator first, but then you’re stuck at the back of the elevator and have to wiggle past all the men in front when you want to get off, and that’s not convenient.
And when I make a deliberate effort to pay attention, I have noticed times when a man lets me in first, and then gets in the elevator without waiting for the black woman. Awkward. Just recently I was at an elevator, behind a black woman, a man told me “after you,” and since he didn’t say it to her, the black woman stayed put, and then I said to the black woman “after you,” and it was just all awkward.
Well, in January a woman takes over the company. I wonder if company policy will change. That would be awesome, if there was an edict: “Starting January 1, people will get on the elevator based on proximity to the elevator, not gender.”