Surviving an all-male workplace  Starting a new job anywhere is equal parts excitement and nervousness. This is exactly what I felt when I landed a part-time gig at a neighborhood liquor store: excitement for the laid-back atmosphere and nervousness for being clueless. Up until my 21st I had been a strict Straight Edge. However, it was after my birthday that I decided to try the occasional drink.

My unfamiliarity with alcohol of any kind turned out to be the least of my concerns. A few months after being employed, a female co-worker quit—leaving me the sole lady of the store.

That’s right, I am the only lady working in an all-male workplace.  Is it easy?  Hell no.  Is it worth it?  Maybe.

When I finally did start catching on to liquor names and the concept of travelers and handles, I found myself facing some ridicule. I can help customers looking for a new drink or good mixer—but only if it’s “one of those girly fru-fru drinks.” At first I felt some shame over this. I don’t know anything about craft beers or aged whiskey, but I can recommend to you the best quality vodka for under $20 or school you on what juices and sodas make good mixers.

It was the day that I likened a liquor store to the world that I lost the shame over my “girly fru-fru drink” knowledge. Dig this: does the world have one kind of person? No. There are Europeans, Africans, Arabs, Asians, etc. And is there one kind of liquor? No. There are vodkas, scotches, liqueurs, wines, rosés, and so many more. And like people, no liquor is better than the other.

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I’ll accept my Nobel Peace Prize at any moment now.

Maybe I don’t have the stereotypical guy drink knowledge that my male co-workers possess. But that is exactly what sets me apart from them. It was my God-awful booze/world analogy that really made me realize that I’m not one of them. I am a woman.

When I first started there, I didn’t want to place an emphasis on my womanhood.  That got old real fast, though. And I noticed a few things that I didn’t much care for that made me change my mind.

My co-workers have invented a game of sorts where the goal is to make the pretty girls come over to their register.  Their prize is the chance to interact with an attractive woman for a few moments and bragging rights once she leaves the store. This game disgusts me, for I’m not cool with turning women into playthings.

I combat this by trying to draw the pretty girls to my register. When said lady leaves, I see the defeated looks of my co-workers and say, “She had a cute dress” or “I love her nail polish.”  My emphasis is never on her nice tits or tight ass, but her accessories or clothes—something that any lady could possess.

I no longer shy away from putting an emphasis on my own femininity either.  I love dresses and skirts and I’m not afraid to wear short shorts or a red lipstick.  I get hit on; called sweetie, baby, honey; I’ve heard all the creepy lines (My personal favorite: “Hey girl, I like your…skirt.”).  I do my best to combat such behavior, even though I could always use more suggestions.

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I also do my best to over-achieve without being a kiss-ass. I do my tasks quickly, do more than I’m told, do the “woman’s” job of cleaning without complaint, and the “man’s” job of taking out the trash.

Some days it’s too much though.  The disgusting remarks are too many and make me feel like shit. I get sick of being eye-raped while trying to stock a shelf.  And I tire of hearing my co-workers exaggerated sexual escapades.

But women love it when they see me. The best is when a fellow female leans across the counter to say, “It’s so nice to see a lady here.”

And that is why I stay. Some days I hate it and I wish I weren’t a woman, but then I remember those times.  The moments when a gal looks relieved to see me in all my stereotypical girl-garb gives me some hope. I do it for the other girls. It’s not always easy being us, especially when you’re surrounded by a bunch of dudes. But if I can change the way a few guys speak to ladies or make a few more women more comfortable going out—even if it is just to a liquor store—I’ll take it.  I may not be doing a whole lot, but at least it’s something.

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