One of the last things I did before I moved countries was hire a small truck and a storage space to house my many accumulated things. I was anxious-but-organised. A guy exposed his prejudices. Here’s the story:
I arrived at the storage place with my brother and our (male) friend. I had booked the space and truck well in advance and all was ready for me. I was pretty excited about driving a truck, to be honest, and the place I was moving out of had typically difficult access and narrow streets. It was going to be a blast.
I asked to see the space I’d hired, just to check it was going to be big enough for what turned out to be an enormous amount of stuff when I started packing it into boxes. I invited my companions to come and have a look too, as they had also recently laid eyes on my giant pile of things. The man at the desk made a flippant comment about how that would be a good idea, because men have better spatial awareness than women and attempted a very forgettable joke along the same lines.
When it came to taking the truck away he asked who was going to be driving it. At this point my brother and friend had had almost nothing to do with the whole process – except for groaning at the sexist joke attempt – I said I would be driving. Of course. This was my idea, my hoarded possessions, my move. For some reason he seemed surprised and said “good for you.”
Driving a small truck around the windy streets was as awesome as I had anticipated and after spending hours filling it with as much as we possibly could, I collected another companion, did a three-point turn on the hill outside my house, made tooting gestures as we wound past other heavy-vehicle drivers with whom I had a new found bonhomie and displayed some nifty defensive action when someone pulled out in front of me (how they didn’t see ME in a TRUCK is incomprehensible).
When I arrived back at the storage facility the man we had been dealing with stopped me and offered through the passenger window to back the truck into the garage for me. I wanted to tell him about the three-point turn, about where we’d come from and how I got myself, all the things I own and two passengers safely to that point, about how much fun we’d been having – but there was a small part of me that felt I should submit and let him finish off the process. For a moment I thought that because he had offered, it must mean I was incapable.
Thankfully, my friends insisted I had this and wound the window back up in front of his astonished face. I proceeded to back the truck neatly into the space provided, despite my apparent gender-related spatial disabilities. When I got out I was told how I could have done that better / differently / his way. I could not have been more disinterested in his opinion and had a photo shoot behind the wheel before unloading.