On a recent trip to a major home improvement store to pick-up the essentials for a weekend painting project, I went with a very specific list in mind and the plan was to divide and conquer. I would get the paint, and my boyfriend would get the rollers, trays, tape, brushes, etc. It was late on a Friday night, the store was relatively empty, and we wanted to get in and out. As I took my spot at the paint mixing counter, I got more than I bargained for as “Heeeeelllllloooooooo gorgeous!” was not anywhere on my list.

Here’s what went down…

A male employee, whom I’m calling Paint Dude #1, was helping a 60-something-ish woman. I overheard the tail end of their conversation and he sounded very courteous, helpful, and articulate. He had the last word of their conversation, which was “have a nice evening ma’am.”

So she leaves and I (age 42) step up with a smile on my face and paint chips in hand. That’s when courteous, helpful, articulate Paint Dude #1 went through a kind of reverse evolution right before my eyes…

Paint Dude #1: “Heeeeelllllloooooooo gorgeous!” The words slowly dripped out of his mouth.

I ignore his less than professional greeting and attempt to shift the exchange back to business, as he seemed to have a different type of latex in mind than what was for sale in his paint department.

Me: “Hi. I need to get some paint. Can you help me with that?”

And in 3… 2… 1… my attempt fails.

Paint Dude #1: “I WISH I could help YOU, but my shift is up. But don’t you worry baby. I’ll get someone to help you right away.”

My blood pressure is now starting to rise, but I stand there stone faced, biting my tongue.

Me: “Great,” I state very matter-of-factly.

Enter a second male employee, Paint Dude #2. He and Paint Dude #1 have a casual and prolonged “what’s up bro” exchange, which includes the classic handshake/hug combo greeting. They banter excitedly, but not loud enough for me to hear, and about 3 minutes go by as I, the customer, stand there, just staring at these two yoyos as they finish their bromance dance. “You closin’ dude?” “Yeah.” “Alright, take is easy man.” They handshake/hug again, Painter Dude #1 walks away, and Painter Dude #2 makes his way over to me.

I want the first word this time.

Me: “Hi. I just need 2 gallons of this paint and one of this. Both in eggshell finish,” as I show him my two paint chips. “Do you need me to go grab the paint so you can mix the colors?”

I asked because that’s what I’ve usually done when I buy paint at this store.

Paint Dude #2: “You don’t need to do ANYTHING, except stand there and look cute.”

I am now seething (and felt like I needed a heebie jeebie cleansing shower). But I still say nothing. Why? One… it was late on a Friday night and I just didn’t have the energy to make this a teaching moment for him. I just wanted my freakin’ paint! Two… I thought a deadpan stare would silently speak volumes about how unamused I was by him.

He takes the paint chips and turns his back, walking about 3 feet away from me. Just then my boyfriend, who had been down one of the aisles getting the rest of our painting gear, comes up alongside of me. He says, “You haven’t gotten the paint yet?” I fill him in on both of the time wasting exchanges. He grimaces, and says loudly enough for Paint Dude #2 to hear, “Who this guy?” But Paint Dude #2 is oblivious… he’s busy doing g*d knows what (a.k.a. nothing, since I was now the only customer in the entire department).

He turns around and notices my boyfriend as he walks toward us. Just as Paint Dude #1 had DEvolved in front of me, Paint Dude #2 suddenly Evolved. Even his tone of voice and style of speaking changed.

Paint Dude #2: “So you needed 2 gallons of the Dark Sky, and 1 gallon of the Mocha Latte ma’am?”

Me: “Yes.”

Paint Dude #2: “Ok. I’ll get those started right away for you. It’ll just take a few minutes.”

All I could do was shake my head.

Before anyone has the chance to say, “Oh wha wha, someone complimented her and she’s got her panties all in a ruffle,” let me make something very clear… this goes far beyond the compliment. It’s about the way I, a customer, was spoken to by two male employees of a major brand and corporation that has tried its darndest in the last few years to be more “female friendly.” It’s about being inappropriately forward with no regard for how the person on the receiving end may feel. It’s about an overall lack of respect.

Photo via Yelp

Jen Jones is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Women You Should Know