“Take your boyfriend with you.”
I had just texted my dad that the teeny-tiny cracks spidering up the side edge of my phone, which hadn’t been a problem up until now, had left a snowflake of glass in the flesh between my forefinger and my thumb yesterday. He said that the Phone Store should replace it, no problem. Then my screen flashed again with a second text.
“Take your boyfriend with you.”
Now why should I have to do that? Why should I have to drag the Engineer along as a buffer so the Phone Store Employees won’t sneer at me and patronizingly tell me that the only way I get a new phone is with a new contract that will (obviously) cost my father millions?
The Engineer, as much as I love him, is useless when it comes to my phone. He can’t figure out touchscreens to save his life. He has a flip phone with a QWERTY keyboard and is quite happy with it. But the Phone Store Employees will not know that. They will know only that he is a man, and therefore automatically more knowledgeable of technology and money-handling in general and less likely to be trifled with than me, a woman.
I don’t blame my dad for this. Honestly, I’ve never particularly enjoyed going in to try to get someone to replace or repair something for me without an adult there. But I’ve also grown up around my mother, who can make a grown man turn pale in the face of her righteous indignation when she is dissatisfied. Not that she flies into a rage if her soup is tepid, but she also isn’t one to back down if something needs to be made right. As I tentatively step into adulthood, I’m slowly learning to hold my ground and evenly ask for decent treatment and service, the way my mom has my whole life while my dad was off on trips for the airline. I may be a daddy’s girl in some cases (if I were at home, I would probably barely look up from my laptop long enough to hand Dad my phone to go get it fixed, but that’s mostly because I’m lazy), but here at school, I do have to run my own errands, fill up my own car, take care of my own apartment, etc. And why shouldn’t that independence of school life extend to getting a warrantied phone replaced?
Furthermore, it’s a sign of a deeper societal issue that Dad didn’t even have to explain why he thought I should take my knight in shining armor with me. He wasn’t suggesting it as a date idea – our family has some weird ideas about love, but getting a phone replaced is not exactly a typical couples activity – nor was he saying that the Engineer should tag along to learn the ropes of getting Phone Store Employees to listen to him. The implied subtext, the only underlying message that makes sense as Society has taught us, is that I needed the Engineer, the man in my life in a protective role, to accompany me the same way my other friend did to the mechanic’s last semester, and for the same reason: that I would not be taken seriously on my own.
ADDENDUM: According to the Commodore, the acceptable reason that you should ever have to have a male accompany you anywhere is just in case you need someone to sacrifice in Trial By Combat. Obviously, since we are Strong, Independent, 21st Century Women, we could handle such a challenge on our own, but it’s much more convenient bringing someone to sacrifice in our stead. These things happen.