Nissan Receptionist

May 7, 2009 sfoshee

Last summer I began to look for a job and found a position as a receptionist at a Nissan car dealership in Hampton Roads. For the job interview I wore a button-up shirt and slacks. The head of Human Resources interviewed me and had me immediately meet with the managers of the dealership. The next day I received a call and had to go sign the papers agreeing to follow the rules of no stealing and no sexual harassment. Furthermore, I was advised to dress modestly like I was dressed for the interview because young men worked at the dealership and “men are pigs”, in the words of the head of HR. While working at the dealership I encountered each workplace stereotype and felt the effects of mild sexual harassment.

                It is common for a woman to be treated as a child in the workplace, such that she is treated as though she is incapable of performing any slightly challenging task without being closely monitored. The simple task of transferring information from a hand written log to an online database was one of the most common creation of conflict between me, the salesmen, and some management. The salesmen would stand over my shoulder and yell if I type a wrong letter before I have a chance to even hit the backspace. Often times the salesmen would snatch the log book from my hands and proceed to input the information while telling me, “This is how you are supposed to do it, you will get it right one day. You just have to practice.”

                Next is the role of the mother, and although the salesmen often talked down to me, they also often whined to me. They would whine that no one likes them, or their back hurts, or they have a headache, or they are hungry, or they lost their pen, or they lost their phone, and so on. They expected me to always have a solution to their problem and to jump whenever they said they needed something often times several things at once. Being the mother didn’t bother me as bad as being treated like a child, but it was hard for me to work when I felt like a sex-object. Men more than double my age would tell me I have nice legs, or I should wear skirts more often. Some hinted at looking at my butt, which should not be tolerated at the work place. I finally became so frustrated when I was told that rumors were being spread that I was having relationships with some of the guys. I never went to the general manager and I probably should have, but I knew I would be leaving soon anyway so why stir up trouble. Women tolerate more than they should have to at the work place and feminism has been to long and hard of a fight for other women to give in to stereotypes.

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