Radio Diaries: Gender Profiling

Feb 10, 2017

I need new bed sheets and decide to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond.  The floor-to-ceiling choices are overwhelming, so I look around for a sales person who can guide me through the process.

But the only sales staff I see are men.  Surely I need a woman to talk to about bed sheets since the domestic arts are our comfort zone.  But after making two circuits of the store, I have to settle for a tall young man.

“I need some help picking out bed sheets,” I say and he nods, completely unfazed.  Quickly, he reviews prices with me and I pick the middle range.  “I don’t need to sleep on silk,” I say as we walk from sample to sample, feeling degrees of softness.

The young man tells me about thread-counts and fabric choices and custom fits.  And I have to admit he’s completely knowledgeable and, also, not a woman.

Finally, we arrive at a choice that seems right.  “I have these myself,” he says, “they’re great.”  How kind of him.  How humbling for me.

“You’ve been very helpful,” I say but I really want to apologize for my gender profiling, for assuming that men can’t know about sheets when the ignorant one is me.  “I learned a lot,” I say.