Thursday, May 11, 2006

so call me sexist

Yesterday, after another lunch meeting with my friend Rich, I was on the way home and stopped at a stoplight at a busy intersection. Across the way there was a construction site for what looks like another gas station. Standing next to one of those huge dump trucks that are used to haul all manner of construction materials and debris, were three people, two brawny looking, typical hardhatted construction workers and petite young attractive blonde woman. My immediate reaction, since it was around lunch time, was that the petite blonde was the wife or girlfriend of one of the two guys who maybe stopped by to bring him his lunch. I know. Typical sexist stereotyping on my part.

So I was more than a little surprised when the three of them separated to go back to doing whatever they were supposed to do, and the two brawny guys walked away while the petite blond hopped up into the huge, fully loaded truck and proceeded to haul ass. Not only did she maneuver that behemoth out of the constuction site and into traffic, she did so while holding a cell phone to her ear with her left hand while steering presumably with only her right. And she wasn't taking her time. By the time my light changed to green and I started out after her, following about a block behind, I had to disobey the speed limit to catch up. By the time I came up nearly alongside of the truck in the left lane, we were both going easily 15mph over the speed limit.

So what, you say. Well, I had to revisit my initial reaction to seeing this young woman getting into that truck and actually driving it. Why it struck me as incongruous to see a female driving a dump truck, I don't really know. I've always considered myself to be enlightened about gender issues, having known many strong and capable women in my time. But apparently I still have some neanderthal attitudes about gender equity buried deep in one of the back pockets of my psyche.

I grew up with a mother who had a very strong, take charge personality, who did everything she attempted well, and who would suffer no fools or tolerate incompetance in those she dealt with, Including me. From her I learned that women can do anything. I married a woman with a strong, take charge personality, who does her job remakably well, who manages our household and finances impeccably, and who suffers no fools or tolerates imcompetance around her. (I'm not sure why she keeps me around). I have a daughter who is a Veterinarian, who thinks nothing of frequent visits to Africa where she chases big wild animals around the Bush for research purposes, and who, for recreation, runs marathons and careens down mountain sides on mountain bikes and straps on a snowboard to slide down those same mountains. Feminists all. Strong capable women all. A credit to their gender and the embodimant of female equality.

But I just can't envision any of them driving a dump truck. That seems to be the realm of the potbellied, cigar smoking, tattooed, butt-sagging filthy jeans wearing, cowboy booted, logoed sweat stained baseball cap wearing, cussing and spitting MAN. Perhaps if I saw that pretty little blonde spit out her truck window, I would have been more accepting. Maybe if she had rested her arm out the window to show off a "semper fi" tattoo on a bulging bicept, I could more readily accept her prescence in that big old mud caked dump truck. But as it is, I am haunted by the possibility that I imagined the whole thing. Women driving dump trucks? A petite, long haired blonde, attractive GIRL driving a dump truck? I must have been hallucinating.

No comments: