Photo by Emily Cheng
When we're not touring, my day job is barista at a coffee shop around the corner from where I live in Philly. (Very nice article on Philly, btw guys.) It's a perfect job for me—the boss is fine with me leaving for long and sporadic lengths of time, I work with really hilarious, friendly, and strong women (and one guy). I get to blast dissonant anti-coffee house music (& Beyonce) while also dicking around on my iPhone when it's slow. As I mentioned it's near my house so it literally takes me one minute to walk to work. This place isn't the fancy pour-over type. Not a one Edison bulb to be found and I am proud of this. We get the usual douchey Yelp reviews and our "atmosphere" is "hipster" (baaaaarf) but what do you expect from anonymous people on the Internet, amirite?
The only real downside to this dream part-time job are some of the customers. Most are friendly and polite, many are now friends and respectful acquaintances. There are however, a few fuckheads in the mix. As a woman working at a coffee shop or any customer service field you know what I'm saying. You get honey-ed, sweetied, sweethearted like you're a waitress in a 1950's frat house diner on Wallstreet and it's enraging. As if it isn't already enough to get hassalled on the street during the one minute commute, you get condescended and infantalized with pet names by people who many times are your same age or thereabouts.
So as a means to cope and amuse myself I developed a way to turn getting called honey into one of the highlights of my day, and I want to spread this around to as many women as possible. The next time a grizzled, "harmless grandpa" or obvious pervert calls you sweetie, call him little dude. I don't want to typecast but I can usually see it coming, and I have gotten used to mentally preparing before saying, "Oh no problem, little dude!" any time a creepy man-child tries belittling me. It works well outside of work situations too. Anywhere entitled, sexist douche-wads stuck in a time warp exist, little dude can be implemented. Once when I was lugging a huge bag of kitty litter to my car a man hassled me for a quarter to use a payphone (while he was talking on a cell phone.) This was one of those times my typecasting aka: ~*womanly intuition*~ paid off because I just knew he was going to call me some sort of pet name if I helped him. I gave him the quarter, he said "Oh, thank you so much, sweetie." and I replied, "Oh, no problem, little dude!" 25 cents well spent.
Many of my friends and co-workers have expressed concern that this will create an awkward situation, but do not fear because little dude is the perfect retort. It is fool proof. Think about it; if you tried to fight fire with fire, and called them honey back, they would think you were flirting. If you get angry, they will have the upper hand and they will looooooove it. It will amuse them to no end if you show the least bit of frazzled, righteous indignation. But if you tack on a "little dude" right at the end of your friendly reply, they won't know what hit them. The trick is to say it quickly and confidently and with no hesitation. What if they say anything back, angry and offended? Well then you can just say "What? Oh, you mean you were offended by my calling you little dude? That's just what I say! It's my affectionate term for all you guys! I thought we were buddies, I mean seeing as how you called me honey, right?"
After doing this for the past year and a half it has never come up. The closest it ever came to confrontation was just yesterday when this tough guy who couldn't have been much older than me (if not the same age or even younger) called me sweetheart —the absolute worst pet name of the bunch—when I handed him his mocha. I looked him straight in the eye and over-pronunciated, "Oh no problem, LITTLE DUDE." with a causal smile. I overheard him, obviously in a state of shock, say to his friend "When she handed me my coffee, I called her sweetheart, and she called me little dude." He wasn't pissed just stunned. Perhaps maybe it just dawned on him that so-called friendly interactions with fellow adult human beings are turned sour by referring to a stranger as a pet name that should be saved for your child, niece, nephew, boy/girlfriend, spouse, or pet.
Bleeding Rainbow's Interrupt LP is out now on Kanine.