The nerve of some people to jump to conclusions about us before they actually get to know us! Yet, people make presumptions about us all the time. Wear pajama bottoms into your local coffee shop? You might be considered “lazy.” Speak a foreign language fluently? People might call you an illegal immigrant. This is all just guesswork. These people don’t really know us or our lives, and in truth, most of them don’t care to ask. But somehow, many of them have the audacity to whisper rude remarks about us to their buddy or even spit out barbaric comments directly to us. In the end, I guess it’s nice to know how people really perceive you, even if it’s a person you’ll never see again.
Because of the latter, it’s no wonder we often shop for hours to find a nice outfit for a first date and that we spend days practicing what we’re going to say at an upcoming job interview to ensure we appear professional and intelligent enough for the job. First impressions matter, and if there are missing gaps in that first impression, the person observing us is bound to start filling those gaps in with pieces of information about us that aren’t actually true, often of which are negative.
Like, for instance, if we often shop at a certain store with our children while our partner is at home, a long-time employee might presume, “Poor thing is a single parent and probably doesn’t make much money.” Sometimes these presumptions are humiliating or just plain funny, but other times, they hurt to the bone, particularly if they’re told to us in a condescending tone of voice with the intent to make us feel like garbage.
If you’ve ever been treated as if you’re unimportant, too young, too old, too dumb, not wealthy enough, or whatever it may be, the people below, too, have been in your shoes.
They know first hand what it feels like to be talked to condescendingly by someone who regarded them as “less than,” but you best believe that these storytellers aren’t as uneducated, poverty-stricken, status-lacking, or unfortunate as rude people initially make them out to be!
28. My Professor Considered Herself Smarter Than Me Due To Her Background
Some people just can’t stand being wrong, and that’s sad.
“College is an adventure.
I’ve met all kinds of people, all kinds of professors. Not all were lovely, but no one compares to my biochemistry professor who taught us the very first semester of the very first year.
She genuinely behaved like she hated being there.
Most sentences she uttered felt like mockery. It didn’t help our image of her that her lectures were filled with the kinds of metaphors suitable only for explaining concepts to children, not college students.
One day, I corrected her on the structure of a formula. It took a while because I was hoping she would catch up on it, which she didn’t. So, I pointed it out. She told me to get up and asked me where I was from.
I live in the suburbs. There’s a stereotype here around college students who have graduated high school in the suburbs; High grades are given easily so we’re probably not as good as our GPA says.
After telling her where I’m from, she proceeded with:
‘I suggest you refrain from correcting your professors with that background.’
Now, I am a quiet person who hates confrontation. But I don’t take humiliation. So, I replied:
‘And I suggest you refrain from thinking that my background will invalidate my point or make you look more competent.’
She kicked me out of her lecture, and I thanked her for it.” Esmeralda Rokaj
27. Me Being From India Doesn’t Mean I’m Poor
“Our company sells travel insurance, and I am the co-founder and CEO. We are located in Texas.
When we were a lot smaller company, I took a lot more customer calls.
I still take some customer calls randomly simply because it gives me a chance to talk to the customers directly and get some first-hand feedback, which helps me run the company better.
Years ago, a customer who was purchasing a flight insurance policy where if the plane crashed, his beneficiary would get $1 million. The policy cost was around $50. The application has only one small field to put the beneficiary name. He said he didn’t want to put his relative’s name because $1 million would go into his estate and increase his taxes. He wanted to put a lot more details like you do in will and/or estate planning.
I replied that you can’t put more details in a small field because this is just a flight insurance application.
He replied, ‘You would not understand all this because you guys from India are so poor, and you don’t have to worry about $1 million.’
I replied that I am the co-founder and CEO of the company, located in the US (not in some offshore call center in India) and he has to worry about $1 million only once when he dies. But I have to worry about more than that every year.
He immediately apologized and even asked me for more details about our company and my role and asked whether I could offer him a job.
Obviously, he was not serious about the job, but he purchased the insurance anyway.” Narendra Khatri
26. She Didn’t Know That I Have Two Master’s Degrees
“This happened a couple of weeks ago. One of my friends has a small event hall and had a big event during Sunday with 90–100 guests, but her staff was entirely female, so she asked me to go there and help her a little (mostly stay on-site so the guests knew the girls were not alone) so there was no problem.
The event was a kids party, so to make long story short, when I was watching the piñata so the kids could blast it to oblivion, one of the mothers said to her son assuming I wouldn’t hear her, ‘See, if you don’t study, you will end up like that guy with the piñata rope.’
Of course, I hear her, so I answer quite softly, ‘Actually, ma’am.
I have 2 Master’s degrees and have not only a small company but a steady well paid job, but since my friend asked me to help her, I’m here listening to some stupid chattering.’
She went ghost pale then left the hall without even apologizing, not that I really cared, but the husband approached me to ask what I said to the wife that she was really scared of me, and when I told him the exact same words after quoting verbatim the wife, he just laughed a little then apologized in her name before asking me if my answer was true.
When I called my friend who also was the manager of the hall and she corroborated what I said, he laughed a lot more.” Cassiel Raven
25. I Was A “Minimum Wage Idiot,” According To Him
Hm, I know a lot of very intelligent “minimum wage idiots.”
“I spent most of my career as a Network TV Producer/Director for some very high profile shows. My strength always skewed towards the technical side of the productions rather than management. I had a lot of say about which freelance camera persons and editors we hired. My income has been very comfortable, well into the six figures.
My side hobby/passion is technology. I love fixing and building computers. I’m not an expert, but keep up with the latest equipment and can generally breath new life into a dying computer. For a few months, I took a Saturday morning job at an office supply store to work in the Technology Department. Not for the money obviously, but I enjoyed talking with folks and it helped me feel the pulse of our viewers for the technology segments we aired. It helped give a sense of what our target audience was really interested in. Not to mention the fact that I got play with all the latest toys.
I always tried to give honest and sound advice to customers who either had a computer problem or wanted to purchase a new one. I even had a little fan base of repeat customers who found they could trust my advice.
One morning, a couple walked into the store looking for a new computer. They were both rude and arrogant. The man said he did freelance video work and needed a computer for editing. I offered a suggestion, but before I could finish my sentence, he told me to leave them alone. He said he didn’t need any advice from some minimum wage idiot.
I recognized his name from our freelance list. I couldn’t resist. I told him this minimum wage idiot was smart enough to never hire him again at our network… that we did not want the face of the company to be represented by anyone who had such a callous disregard for our viewers. I mentioned my weekday job. His face said it all.
No, he didn’t buy the computer.” Jeff Jayson
24. Career-Wise, I Was A “Bad Example” For Her Daughter
What this woman doesn’t know is that people working in physical, labor-intensive jobs are actually some of the hardest working people out there, and while it isn’t everything, many manual laborers actually make a pretty penny.
“I was working for the government as a ‘soil tester’ (geotechnical engineer). Basically crawling around in the dirt retrieving soil and geological samples for a variety of different purposes.
I had been called out to a construction site of a newly developed shopping mall. Some very serious issues had popped up in the few months the mall was opened, a big ‘stink’ about dangerous levels of methane gas, and the agency I was working for at the time was tasked with doing the research.
I was alone at the time, my coworkers had gone over to check on another site across the way.
It was a warm day and we’d been working for several hours. I was sweaty, my hair in a messy bun, wearing dirty coveralls over my dress clothes. I looked like a hard-working person, maybe a maintenance, construction or landscaping worker. I was working intently, test tubes and equipment laid out neatly all around when I suddenly felt ‘eyes’ looking at me. I turned around and saw a group of silhouettes – 4 people – standing a few feet away.
I was about to ask them to leave when I heard a woman’s voice say in the most condescending tone, ‘Take a look at this person, Peyton.
Take a good look because this is what happens when you don’t stay in school.’
They all kind of snickered when the woman spoke again, barking, ‘Peyton?! Alexis?! Jackson?! Stand over here, so I can take your photo. We’re posting this on the fridge to remind Peyton what her of future looks like if she keeps screwing around with her education.’ The kids (all older teenagers 17-19) mumbled and shuffled around but obeyed.
By this time, I had stood up and was reaching inside of my coverall to retrieve my credentials. At the same time, I could see that my minions had returned from lunch and were heading towards us.
‘Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to leave this area immediately. You are trespassing onto a secured area. It’s not only illegal for you to be here; it’s unsafe.’ She looked at me incredulously with the most punchable smug smirk and flipped her expensive designer sunglasses back down over her eyes and responded. ‘Um, excuse me? You obviously have no who I am? My husband OWNS this property, honey, and I’m certainly not going to take orders from someone whose job it is to scrounge around in the dirt. What’s your name? You’re going to regret this little interaction when you’re sitting in the unemployment office.’
At this point, I flipped open my badge and shoved it towards her, so she could clearly read my credentials which included the word ‘Dr’ along with some official government gibberish and symbols.
Her face comically went from confused to understanding to concern in 5 seconds.
I called out to my minions (aka – armed military security personnel) and said, ‘Gentlemen, if you wouldn’t mind, this woman is trespassing in a secured area and refusing to leave. Could you please convince her and her family to comply with my lawful order to end her trespass and explain the consequences of not doing so?’ ‘Absolutely, Dr. Smith!’ they responded, moving quickly towards the woman and the teens.
She began stammering that she ‘didn’t know’ and to ‘call my husband, he’ll explain’ and ‘you’re making a big deal out of a nothing,’ all the while they were guiding her by her elbows, steering her away from the area.
Her kids were telling her to calm down and stop this, but she continued to argue, becoming belligerent and uncooperative, so local law enforcement was called to aid in arresting her.
After some heated discussion, she finally handed the keys to her Escalade (of course it was) to one of the kids, at which point she took a government taxi to discuss the matter further.” Ann Smith
23. She Overheard Me Saying That I Was Bored, So She Suggested I Get A Job
“‘Maybe you should get a job.’
By one of the nurses at my dad’s care home.
I’d just finished my studies and had decided to take some time out before getting a job because it was clear that my dad’s early-onset dementia was getting very bad, very quickly.
So I moved home for 6 months to help my parents. The timing worked out well because a month after I moved home, my dad had a psychotic break and needed to move into a care home. My mom was too overwhelmed to be able to cope with everything, so the fact I was there and not working meant I was able to sort everything out.
For the few months between Dad going into care and me starting my first job, I visited him every day. One of the senior nurses at the home was a sour-faced, Irish woman who used to make comments to her colleagues (that I was clearly meant to overhear) about young people being too lazy to work and living off benefits.
I never said anything, I was always polite to her and just acted as if I hadn’t heard her. She just became more blatant with her comments as she clearly thought I was too stupid to realize that they were directed at me, so she just made it more and more obvious. I continued to ignore it. I didn’t want to p*ss her off by setting her straight in case she took it out on my dad somehow.
The week before I was about to start my new job, I went into the home for a meeting about my dad’s care plan.
Annoyingly, it was Sour Face who was the nurse attending. While talking to the social worker (who was lovely), she overheard me saying that I’d been a bit bored lately (the context being that I was looking forward to starting work). That’s when Sour Face told me to get a job.
I don’t usually show off or act like an arsehole about the fact I have a Ph.D. in genetics from Cambridge University, but on this occasion, it seemed like the right thing to do.
I took great enjoyment in telling her that I was starting a new job the following week researching genetic causes of childhood cancers and that it was a nice follow on from my Ph.D.
thesis in developmental genetics. I ended my little speech with, ‘Oh, and I’ve never claimed benefits in my entire life.’ Her face was an absolute picture.
Fortunately, my dad was moved to a better home with nicer staff soon after that, and I put in a written complaint about her.” Lizzie Brazier
22. They Assumed I Was Just A Good-For-Nothing Toilet Cleaner
Just because a job may not seem ideal to someone doesn’t mean that another person doesn’t find joy and fulfillment with it.
“One summer, I was working in the Housekeeping department at the hospital where I was cleaning hallways and patient rooms. The rooms were cleaned daily, so you tend to develop acquaintanceships with longer-term patients and their visiting loved ones.
One day, the friendliest, kindest mom and her visiting daughter were telling me goodbye as the mom was due to be released. I was saying my goodbyes to them in return when they both started complimenting me profusely over how beautiful they thought I was. ‘Thank you very much,’ I replied. I thought it would end there, but they added how nice and kind I was as well. ‘I really appreciate that. And both of you are so sweet. It’s been a joy to see you every day,’ I replied.
As I was preparing to leave, the daughter said, ‘We’ve been thinking about it all week, and we just wanted to say we think you should be a model!’ ‘Wow,’ I said.
‘That’s very kind of you.’
The daughter went on … ‘It’s just you’re so beautiful and so sweet, and we think there must be something else you can do besides cleaning toilets for a living.’ So, I smiled, dropped my head, thanked them again and left the room as quickly as I could. I didn’t mention to them that I was a full-time pre-law student pursuing a double-major in English Language & Literature and African & African American Studies at the University of Michigan. Or that my mother was an attorney who attended UofM as an undergrad & law school student. I didn’t ‘explain’ that I was already doing ‘more than cleaning toilets’ because my sister had gotten me that job in her department where she, as beautiful as she was, fed her family cleaning those same toilets.
She went on to supervisor, and to acquire a BA, and pursue a master’s in Organizational Management as well, but that was not the point either.
I worked alongside people there who would retire from that very position doing nothing more than ‘cleaning toilets,’ mopping floors, and dragging 75lb bags of patient laundry all in a concerted effort to prevent nosocomial infections in patients which otherwise account for a significant portion of illnesses that threaten patient health and lives.
What are nosocomial infections? They are the infections patients acquire WHILE they are in the hospital setting. Housekeeping, later renamed ‘Environmental Engineering,’ to help highlight the ultimate purpose of the department, was charged with containing these infections by thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all things used by and touched by patients.
But hey, I was cute, and I had a scrub brush in my hand, so there must have been something better for me to do, right?
At what point in American history did an honest wage for an honest day’s work become not good enough? Not honorable enough. My nephew and nieces’ medical needs were provided through the health insurance my sister earned by her work she performed in that job. My co-workers took care of their families. Some put themselves through school. We were all people performing an essential function. I was grateful that day that I was the one they said that to if for no other reason than what an even bigger kick in the stomach it would have been if it had been my chosen profession that they were telling me wasn’t good enough for these well-meaning, presumptuous, condescending and insulting strangers.
And, that they felt it was so obviously not enough that they felt comfortable telling me so directly.
I never told my sister.” Tiffany Girard
Another User Comments:
“I was hospitalized with Guillain-Barre Syndrome twice in two years. I spent nearly a month in the local hospital (before moving on to residential rehab) both times. I was temporarily paralyzed and very scared, not knowing what the future held for me. Would I ever walk, run, or jump again?
While the majority of the staff were awesome, incredibly helpful and caring, it was the lovely woman who cleaned my room each day who most brightened my spirits.
Maria was indeed a pretty face, but her true beauty shone from within. Her ever-present smile and joyful disposition always brightened my mornings.
When I look back at what could have been dark days, I remember the November sun shining through the blinds that Maria always remembered to open for me. I recall her bright smile and her pleasant small talk rather than the excruciating pain in my legs and feet. She was the most consistent bright point in my day.
NO job is too small or lacking in value. Maria was an important part of my recovery…and she remembered me by name when I had a relapse of my rare auto-immune disease a year later!
There are no small jobs, just small-minded people.
Thank you for being a ‘Maria’ and spreading hope and joy to so many patients!” Katie Grogan
21. He Made Me Look Idiotic In Front Of Everyone When I Kindly Corrected Him
“I started a new job where I frequently had to interact with my boss’s boss, a high-level manager. Being new to the job, they had some initializations and terminology I wasn’t familiar with, so when I ran into those, I asked questions.
The Big Boss (we’ll call him Bruce) spoke condescendingly to me in general, but he seemed particularly annoyed that I didn’t repeat his mistake of calling things ‘acronyms’ when they weren’t.
I called them what they were – initials.
You see, even though I wasn’t college-educated at the time, I know what an acronym REALLY is and what it isn’t. In all honesty, most people misuse the term, but I normally don’t correct them (because I’m not the Grammar Police), but I also choose not to copy their mistakes. One day, he became more and more agitated about getting in my face and saying the word very slowly, enunciating carefully like so: ‘This AC-RO-NYM…’ (blah blah)… He did this in front of a couple of other employees.
I finally decided to address the subject.
I said, ‘I get the sense you’re trying to teach me a new word, Bruce,’ and I smiled. He looked like he was about to pop, and in a sarcastic tone replied, ‘Well, yes, these things are called acronyms, and you need to learn that word and stop calling them initials. Educated people know these things.’
(Oh, no you didn’t…) Now I’m seriously ticked off!!! I responded, ‘Well, I wasn’t going to say anything, but since YOU brought it up, most of the things you’re calling acronyms actually aren’t. Might want to consult Webster (the dictionary) on that.’ And I went on to give examples of some actual acronyms and told him, ‘I’m correct in calling most of those ‘initials,’ or ‘initializations,’ if you want to sound impressive.’
‘And another thing, Bruce, next time you decide you want to intellectually humiliate an underling in front of an audience, it might be wise to find out a little bit about them first.
My mother was an English teacher. In the 7th grade, I tested with an 11th-grade vocabulary. Maybe YOU should have taken the hint when I didn’t parrot your mistake, and ask yourself why.’
He was dumbfounded, as were the people who witnessed this little rebellion of mine.
Yep, it was immensely satisfying… until I got fired two days later. ‘Bad attitude, insubordination.’ Lol. So it goes.” Donna Ping
Another User Comments:
“I’m so annoyed that they fired you. I was rooting for you the whole time while reading your story and wanted you to be the new undisputed queen of your workplace after you shut your boss down like that! But I guess I get it… He would have lost what little respect he had left from your other coworkers if he let you stay after talking to him like that.
Oh well, their loss, I suppose.” Craig Snyder
“Thank you. I was young then… and I think you have hit the nail on the head. I publicly undermined his authority, even though he was using his authority to publicly undermine me. But it all worked out, long term. No regrets.” Donna ping
20. I Was An Executive At The Company, Not A Minimum Wage Worker
“I still laugh about mine today. I was about 35-years-old and a mid-level manager at the largest telecommunication company in the United States. I flew into Kentucky to see a client to set up project management for his system.
I walked into his office and met his secretary first.
Before I could say anything, she told me they were not hiring right now, and would not be hiring for a while. I told her I was not there for a job —I needed to see her boss about something else. She said, ‘Oh, you’re the delivery guy, and you need to take the shipment to the dock on the backside of the building.’ I told her I was not the delivery guy. I said, ‘I would just like to see your boss.’ Her last response was that I would have to make an appointment because her boss was waiting for someone important from Atlanta, Georgia.
So, I just stood there, while she stared at me, trying to figure out why I had not left. Internally, I was laughing when I should have been mad.
Her boss comes from out back, and she says to him something similar to, ‘I don’t know what this guy wants.’
Her boss immediately comes over to me with a big smile, gives me a big huge handshake and a hug. She looks bewildered.
As we go into the back, her boss says something to the effect of, ‘You and I need to have a conversation.’
As you probably have already figured out: I was black, and in her mind, she just could not visualize a black person in her presence as being someone of importance in an executive position.
The sickening look on her face after her boss said they were going to have a conversation. Priceless!” Genette Tylerson
19. She Assumed I Provided My Son With ADHD A “Broken Home Environment”
Oh heck no…
“My son was diagnosed as ADHD at the ripe old age of 3 1/2. Any idea how bada** your kid has to be to get diagnosed that young? Yea, that boy just wasn’t right from the get-go.
Anyways, he was diagnosed and had been seeing a child psychologist, whom I’ll refer to as Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob recommended that I have my son m-teamed as he was about to start kindergarten.
His reasoning was while my son was intelligent we needed to find what his true potential of learning was. Made sense to me. I filed the necessary paperwork. A bit of some back info, I’m a case manager in welfare at this time, living in a white, middle-class neighborhood. (This is important in a bit.)
The m-team is confused as to why they are looking at a child who hasn’t even started school as of yet. I go through Dr. Bob’s rationale. To which I get a table full of eye rolls, but they humor me.
They do their investigation. We schedule a meeting to discuss their findings.
It is me, the principal who has a Ph.D. in education who thinks she’s all that, and the entire m-team (about five people). To someone who isn’t used to this, it can be intimidating. However, I work in welfare. This isn’t fazing me a bit.
What I didn’t know was I was now being put before the firing squad to be ripped to shreds. Each member of the team gave their opinion. One stated she felt my son exhibited signs of extreme anger and needed anger management. He attended an in-home daycare run by one of my mother’s friends. When she heard this, she laughed.
She said the day the woman came out, it was about 90 degrees and sunny. My son and two other boys were playing in the sandbox. It was the two boys’ job to build, and my son’s job to stomp on em. That is where her idea of ‘extreme anger’ came from. One by one went very similar.
Finally, the grand poobah was saved for last, Dr. Whinn, the principle. She clears her throat while she folds her hands and says to me, ‘I think you need to reconsider his diagnosis and accept the fact that he is a mere byproduct of a broken home.’ After hearing that, I lost it.
I. Lost. My. Ever. Loving. Sh*t. Then common sense quickly grabbed a hold of me, and I got it together. I left that meeting fuming.” Deanna Kinley
18. He Told Me My Attire Wouldn’t Get Me Anywhere… It Was Winter
“It was back in the late 80s. I was living in a spare room of a friend’s house who knew that I got priced out of my apartment, so he let me stay until I got enough saved for a new place. It also put me about 2.5 miles away from the bus stop where I took it to work. Since bus service was nonexistent in the area at the time, I had to get up and out of the house by 4 am to catch the first run at 5:15 am.
Yeah, I walked in the dark during the fall and winter months, and with weather changes, you dress accordingly.
On the first run also meant you can snag a seat, so I got one in the front. And it was also a 45-minute ride, so you drank your coffee, read a newspaper, book, whatever. One guy, who I didn’t know was eyeing me all this time, sat down next to me. Nicely dressed in a suit and nothing out of place. He then asked me why I was dressed like a ‘lesbian.’
I am now awake.
‘Do you know that dressing like that isn’t going to get you anywhere or anything in this world?’
He then proceeded on how he was on his way to his new job, got this new suit, everything except what color underwear he put on.
I didn’t retort due it was very early in the morning, and yelling at the twit would be frowned upon by the other riders, and the bus driver would kick me off and make me walk the rest of the way.
‘How much was your suit?’ I asked.
He gives me the-double stare.
‘Probably more than you know,’ he says defensively.
I looked him in the eye.
‘Dude, let me give you a lesson. One, I work in a warehouse, head of shipping and drive a forklift, hence the outfit. Second, I dress for warmth, not a fashion show, as the runway is a loading ramp for a truck.
I’ve been at this job for 15 years, probably before you were even thought of. And I made more money than what you put into that suit, a real suit, not something that was probably a Goodwill brand.’
(Now at this time, other riders are catching wind of the conversation and some are giggling)
‘And,’ I said before my stop. ‘Don’t be judging on the first try. It can cost you.’ And I exited. Could’ve sworn I heard hands clapping.
And the guy? Well, it did cost him. Learned from one of the regular riders (and you can’t make this up) that he pulled his condescending comments on another female that didn’t dress for success.
The female was the daughter of his boss.” Cheryl Anne
17. She Assumed I Was A New Employee When I’ve Been Working There 15 Years
“Once, late in my tenure as a Dangerous Goods Specialist at my station, I was filling in for another employee and picking up packages at a customer location. I noticed they had made several errors on their Dangerous Goods shipment. Not wanting to haul the items to my station then go through the process of rejecting the packages which would require the packages be returned to the customer to be fixed, I told the customer there were errors, and I was unable to accept the packages.
The customer was also the shipping manager and she said for me to just take them and let the specialist decide if there was a problem, after all, she told me, a mere driver wouldn’t understand the process, especially a ‘new’ one like myself.
I politely informed her that I was a 15-year employee and had been a Dangerous Goods specialist for 11 years. I went on to inform her that I was intimately familiar with her company since I was the one who had been rejecting her shipments on a regular basis for the past few years for errors just like the ones I had noted.
She babbled something about how her shipments were fine by German standards (her company was German and she had a noticeable accent), to which I responded that the rules were international; so no, they weren’t okay by German standards either.
In the end, she huffed that she would need me to wait for half an hour while she fixed things and created new paperwork. I informed her that I had already been at her location too long and had other customers to take care of.
When I left, I heard her saying something in German that was presumably a tirade of curses.
And no, her processes never improved, so I typically rejected 3 out of 4 shipments from her company over the next few years as a DG specialist.” William Travis
16. My Tech Student Thought I Was An Idiot Just Because I Was A Woman
“I showed up to a tech class that I was teaching much earlier than necessary so that I could make sure all of the systems were in proper, working order.
I was finishing up as a few older men walked in. One detached himself from the group and let me know quite loudly that I should let the real men and professionals fix the machines. The others all laughed.
I ignored him and went to sit at the front of the class. A few minutes later, the district trainer came in and introduced me. During the intro, he explained that for the next two weeks, I would be teaching the group how to install, troubleshoot, and integrate the computer systems. The rude guy’s face was so red, I thought it would explode.
Sadly, he later accused me of giving a female tech a better grade than him because we’re women. So, with her permission and with the district head there, I showed the whole class both of their tests plus the answers. It was done on the computer, and I had no way of tampering with the grades. He got very embarrassed, and the head asked him to leave because of his rude behavior throughout the class.
I hate when unnecessary crap like that happens. There’s no reason for it.” Hannah Holbeck
Another User Comments:
“Your response was perfect.
I enrolled in a physics class once, which on day two had shrunk to half its original size.
It also worked out I was the only female left. There was always friendly competition between students at break time, and I came in for a fair amount of comment when I aced a tough exam.
When I next walked into that class, it was just in time to hear the teacher tell the group of young men that women don’t do well in the sciences… As I breezed by to take my seat right up front, I suggested that he back up that claim by posting his class’s last exam results. He took it with little grace, but there was a lot of sniggering in the seats behind me.
Score!” Darlene Baker
15. To Her, I Wasn’t Good Enough To Travel First Class
“When I was a kid, my father accepted a job in the Netherlands. We were a basic lower-middle-class family: at-home mom, used cars, real milk mixed half with milk powder because it was cheaper that way, a starter home with bare walls because we couldn’t afford decorations yet, but enough for toys for the kids and the occasional trip to Dairy Queen.
One of the perks of living abroad is that the company paid for us to go back to the US once a year. Now, this was at a time when air travel was still a luxury: the airlines handed out free flight bags, planes were half empty, the kids got a tour of the cockpit mid-flight, etc.
No one else I knew had even been on a plane, let alone intercontinental.
When I was about eight, we were returning to the Netherlands, and a flight delay caused us to miss our domestic connection. Back then, flights were fully refundable, so my father decided not to wait and to take a train instead, first-class, because we were tired, and the company would pay for it. There was a tight connection in Utrecht, but we could make it. We were pretty beat up looking after three weeks traveling and an overnight flight, toting loads of beat-up suitcases.
In Utrecht, everybody was assigned a bag to carry, and we ran across the platform.
I got there first, being a goal-oriented boy on a mission. I hauled my case into the first class.
A well-dressed woman, middle-aged, probably on a shopping trip, stopped me and said: ‘Dit is de eerste klas hoor, jongetje’ (‘This is first class, little boy’ – with that ‘hoor’ thrown in, which basically means, ‘You should know better.’).
I instantly hated this woman. How dare she treat me, an international jet setter, like a baby. I was a shy kid but whip-smart, and I really hated the way adults often spoke to me.
I swallowed my shyness, looked her in the eye and said (in Dutch), ‘Thank you, I know.
I always travel first class.'” Eric Truebenbach
14. He Assumed That Because I Was Attractive, I Wouldn’t Be Smart
You’d think he wouldn’t hire her because she “didn’t look very smart,” but actually, he hired her for her beauty, hoping that she wasn’t very smart.
“I am a very learned woman because of my photographic memory and speed reading abilities. I have read textbooks of over 1,000 pages in 24 hours, can recall excerpts verbatim and pass an exam on the topic as much as 2 months or more out from having learned the material. I have taken those online IQ Tests and ALWAYS come out between 132 and 175 depending on the test.
Because of my appearance (I have dyed my hair blonde off and on for the better part of my adult life, have been told I’m very attractive and enjoy wearing makeup and dressing where I gladly flaunt my assets!) and lack of college degree, I have been told many condescending things relative to my intelligence, outward appearance and choice and tastes.
I was working as an Administrative Assistant for a powder coating company, and one of the owners said, ‘If I knew in the interview you were smart and not just a hot wh*re, I would have NEVER hired you! I just wanted a hot face to f*ck from time to time in the office!’ right before he told me to leave for the day and not return except to pick up my check Friday!
I went home, crying to my abusive, narcissistic EX for him to say, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t have been such a know-it-all! I’ve told you for years that you should ‘don’t think when you think and think when you don’t.’ Now you’ve f*cked up another job, and I’ll have to pick up more shifts at the bar again, STUPID B*TCH!'” Alyssa Croft
13. He Undermined My Knowledge About Cars Since I Was A Female
It turns out, apparently he didn’t know much.
“Being an intelligent person, and a female, I ran into this situation a lot over the past 40 years. I feel like I should share an exchange with a former co-worker. I will call him Dee (short for Tweedledee). Managing a stand-alone department with multiple vehicles, I had always worked directly with various repair shops for routine and other maintenance, and it worked well, for a while.
Our board decided to save money by requiring all routine maintenance done by a self-proclaimed mechanic on the handyman crew (AKA facilities maintenance). Over the course of time, we purchased a small trailer that required one of the vehicles to be retro-fitted for towing.
This was a fairly new vehicle that we had never had a bit of trouble with. It only had about 20,000 miles on it when we started getting multiple check engine codes and it lost power randomly.
Our Mr. Dee had the car for 2 days and couldn’t figure out the problem (!). He took the vehicle to the local shop and they had it about a week. So, Dee comes back to my office and begins this long, over-simplistic discourse on electrical systems and how complex they are on newer vehicles and how important it is to have them properly repaired, etc., and ad nauseam.
I asked him, point-blank and rather bluntly, ‘What is wrong with it?’ His reply?
‘Well, I don’t know if you would understand it. How much do YOU know about cars?’ Barely keeping my composure (at this time he had wasted about 30 minutes dumbing down and mansplaining), I asked him to give it to me straight and I would stop him if I didn’t understand.
When he stopped to take a breath, I broke it down for him this way:
‘The complete wiring harness needs to be replaced because there was a short, and it keeps shorting. Hm, I wonder if it was caused by someone wiring for the towing retro-fit improperly?’ I am afraid I was pretty curt at this point.
Of course, he denied causing any part of the problem, citing that this was a known issue on that model vehicle.
We lost the use of this vehicle for two weeks, and it cost us about $2,000 in shop time for the repairs, not to mention an hour of my time wasted on a useless discussion. I could have taken the vehicle to the shop for the towing package initially for about $300. Nice money-saving measures. Gotta love bureaucracy and male superiority.” Suzanne Littledeer
12. He Assumed I Just Wrote A Quote For The Article… I Wrote The Whole Article
“A man being shipped to Vietnam during the war tried to kill himself in a restroom at the airport.
I was there with two friends having a late-night drink. It was Australia in the early days, and one of the few places you could get a ‘late-night’ drink was the airport.
I had just gone to the men’s room where he was bleeding when I heard all the yelling. I had been training as a nurse and thought I could help. I wrapped up his bleeding arm in toilet paper. He was babbling. I yelled at my friends to call paramedics. I stayed there listening to him crying while I tried to pretend I knew what to do.
The paramedics came and took him away.
Then I remembered. I had just started a job as a trainee reporter at The West Australian newspaper. In a semi-coherent fashion, I called in and explained the situation and dictated what I hoped was a factual outline of what happened. The editors made it better.
Now, to your question:
The next day, sober, my friends and I were working on my car, replacing an alternator. We went to the auto parts store to get some parts. There in the newspaper bin at the front was the morning newspaper with the story about the attempted suicide. We bought several copies and were talking about it when we went into the parts store.
‘Oh, you were in the newspaper,’ the attendant said. ‘You must be so proud.’
His voice was so condescending. Let me add, in fairness, that I was a little dirty having worked on the car, and so the man-made his judgment about me based on that.
‘Yes, it was very strange,’ I said.
‘Well… aren’t you so lucky to be quoted in the newspaper.’
The condescension was palpable.
‘Actually,’ I said, ‘I wrote the article. That’s my name on the byline.’
My friends laughed and we left. It took two hours to fix the alternator. Many times during that, I wondered — whatever happened to that young man who tried to kill himself.
I will never know.” Michael Castengera
11. She Totally Downplayed My Depression
“In the 90s, I was in rough shape mentally, and I was given a mental health nurse to visit me at home once a week. The nurse they sent me was okay in the beginning, but as a few months passed, I realized that I knew a little too much about her personal life. It seemed like our roles were reversed.
One visit, about 6 months in, I was telling her that I was feeling really depressed. Her reply was jaw-dropping, to say the least.
‘I know personally about depression! About 5 years ago, I got the chickenpox and toxic shock syndrome at the same time! I was so depressed, and that is why I decided to become a mental health nurse.’
I sat there dumbstruck! Thankfully, our hour was almost up.
The next week when she was coming for our appointment, there was a note on my door telling her that I would no longer require her services and to not contact me again.” E Marie Dee-Campbell
10. My Guidance Counselor Basically Called Me Poor White Trash
I thought guidance counselors were supposed to guide, not discourage.
“When I was a junior in high school, I was taking care of my siblings full time during the week while my single mom worked out of town to support her four kids. I was also making top grades and had always scored at the top of the curve on language and analytical skills on national standardized tests.
(Not being arrogant here — I didn’t even have this perspective at the time and was struggling with self-esteem as much as any adolescent.)
Well, I went to a routine appointment with my high school guidance counselor who told me, in the nastiest of tones: ‘You can’t go away to college. Your family can’t afford it. You’ll have to go to community college and live at home.’ He offered no other comments or help. His contempt for me and for my family was obvious. I didn’t know the term ‘poor white trash,’ but got that message clearly and for the first time.
I’ve never forgotten his utter cruelty and never stopped wondering: how would he know?
By the way, I went away to college. I ended up with two Master’s degrees, two licenses, and have had an amazing career as a psychotherapist. I’m grateful to all those who helped, encouraged, and supported me instead of harming.” Patricia Wolfenden
9. He Suggested I Learn Real Skills And Get My Life Together
“I remember when I was 17, I was taking a gap year before going to Oberlin College & Conservatory. I had graduated from a private school in New England and was entering college as a double degree student.
I had also taken enough AP exams to basically skip most first-year courses. So…I treated myself to a season of goofing off (by myself) to see the west.
I learned how to get around on a Greyhound bus, discovered pork rinds in Iowa, got a tattoo, slept in hostels, cavorted about at midnight with Germans and Australians, and bought at the thrift store a leather jacket with fringe all over it. I should also say that I’m mixed race and could pass for everything from Native American to Italian to Algerian.
One day, as I was sitting in a (Woolworth’s? Maybe?) cafe in Rapid City, South Dakota, drinking a truly terrible cup of coffee, I was approached by a well-meaning man who sat down and began to tell me about the job corps program.
He told me about how I could learn real skills, such as building, plumbing, and foodservice and that I could really get my life in order. I thanked him for his concern and information, and I was polite and kind about it. I mean, after all, he might well save some runaway’s life one day. What’s odd to me though is that I did actually tell him that I was headed to college in the fall, and I was just taking some time off to have fun. He didn’t seem to believe me though and wrote down the job corps phone number and urged me to please call them.
I’m sure he didn’t mean to be condescending, but if I had been obviously white, a boy, and dressed like I’d gone to grammar school and prep school, I doubt he’d have done that. Somehow, I think my race and gender- and maybe the fact that I was alone in a depressing department store cafe- blinded him to the possibility that I might actually be an educated young woman with prospects…” Leah Mitchell
8. She Figured I Had A Mental Impairment
“I had laryngitis (or tonsillitis; the doctors didn’t seem able to agree), and as the swelling in my throat increased, I became dehydrated because I couldn’t drink fluids quick enough.
I was admitted to hospital and put on an Ear, Nose and Throat ward.
Me and the guy in the next bed were laughing at each other because we both sounded the same, like we were trying to talk around a billiard ball. Brilliantly, the staff, being on a specialist ward, were sufficiently accustomed to such conditions that they could understand us fine, where most people couldn’t.
The next morning, a nurse comes ’round and explains that she’s been drafted in from another ward for the day, due to staff absence. She wasn’t as switched on as the others, just in a very general sense.
She asked me a question, but when I replied with a ‘mmff fgghff jgjfhf,’ her expression changed. I couldn’t place it at first, until she got close to my face, and spoke really slowly and loudly. I realized she assumed I was somehow mentally impaired. Short of trying to muffle a protest that I was perfectly capable of understanding, I was speechless really. I have since pondered on the frustrations of intelligent people with, for example, a simple speech impediment, being perceived as ‘not all there.’
Never judge a book and all that..” Dan Flower
Another User Comments:
“I have dysphonia, a speech problem that makes my vocal cords spasm.
It is very frustrating to try to talk to people when they look at you like you’re gonna spaz out. Needless to say, I can only talk to family. It is a very lonely life. I just stay at home now and keep to myself.” Pamela Downer
7. She Figured I Wasn’t Cut Out For College
“Most people I associate with assume I don’t know much of anything. I don’t act like it; I just like to listen to what others have to say.
I love my kids and love that I’m able to be at home to raise them, but for a while, I wanted to be more than just a mom.
I wanted to be able to tell my partner something about my day that’s not about our kids, the house or bills, so I decided to enroll into university.
I was with a friend when I received an email to say that I had been accepted, and I was beyond excited. My friend asked what was going on, and I told her how I had enrolled and had just been accepted. She kind of smirked and said –
‘And what exactly are you suppose to be studying?’
I didn’t say anything for a moment; I was annoyed and a bit hurt at her response especially because she could clearly see my excitement.
I ended up stooping to her level to make myself feel better and replied with –
‘Anthropology and Sociology.. but you wouldn’t know anything about those subjects.'” Tupaia Edwards
6. Apparently My Age And Appearance Had To Do With The Car I’d Be Purchasing
How do people look at someone and automatically know how much money they have/make anyways?
“When I was 18 years old, I was driving to work when I was hit head-on by a drunk driver. I was sitting at a stoplight patiently waiting my turn when two 20-year-old guys came flying around the corner doing around 80km/hr (in a 50 zone), losing control, and hit me head-on.
As you can imagine, it was a significant accident. My car, which I had worked very hard and saved up for, was destroyed. I was devastated; this accident drastically altered my future.
Several months after the accident, I finally received my insurance payout for the loss of my car. I decided to use the money as a down payment to buy myself my first ever brand new vehicle. I was thrilled, this was going to be my first REAL purchase, the first time I would start growing credit.
This is totally embarrassing, but back in the day I really wanted a Hyundai Tiburon.
If I recall correctly, these were like $25k – so considerably cheap for a ‘sports car.’ So, the day comes to go test drive and maybe buy the ‘car of my dreams.’ My dad takes me to the dealer, and as we did a little peripheral search of the lot, we are approached by a salesman.
Now keep in mind, I’m 18 – I have braces, and I’m pretty low maintenance, so I was probably wearing some band t-shirt and scrubby jeans. My dad was wearing his dirty farm jeans and a t-shirt. As the salesman approaches us, I can already see him judging us.
He casually asks us if he can help, to which I reply – ‘I want to look at the Tiburon’s’ (again- a relatively CHEAP car). He actually ROLLS HIS EYES and then says, ‘Yeah…those are gonna be out of your price range. Can I interest you in our accents, they are more YOUR STYLE.’
I was livid. I could feel the red boiling up in my cheeks. Just as I was going to lose it on him, my dad beat me to the punch. He started shouting at this guy, that he has no idea what kind of money I did or didn’t have.
I think he threw in some choice words as well. LOL. Then swiftly grabbed my arm and said we’re leaving.
The next day, we went to a different dealership and ended up getting a different car altogether. That car was twice as expensive.” Courtney Megan
5. Just Because I’m Not Wealthy Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Care About My Child’s Education
“The year before my son started kindergarten, his father and I had ended our unhealthy and volatile relationship. As a result of the trauma of our relationship, separation, and subsequent custody battle, my son began acting out at school. He also struggled with reading and writing.
As a single mother, I was doing all I could to support my children emotionally, mentally, and financially. I was also attending school full time to finish my degree.
At a conference with his teacher and the school counselor in reference to his behavior and his below-average reading abilities, I was asked if I ‘had books in my home.’
Now at the time, my children and I were classified as low-income and my son received free lunches at school. However, this was only due to my status as a full-time student. I was working to finish my BA in sociology, so I knew exactly why I was asked if I had books in my home.
Their thinking, I’m sure, went something like this: low-income single mom, probably uneducated, must not have the wherewithal to support her children’s education at home, doesn’t understand the importance of reading with her children to foster literacy.
I wanted to ask the counselor if foundations of interpersonal communication or basic helping skills were required classes when she was working on her master’s degree. I wanted to ask her if she knew just how condescending that question is. I wanted to tell her that even if I didn’t have an education and a history of well-paying jobs, questions like this are not really helpful in supporting children or their parents.
I wanted to ask her what if I said no, I don’t have books in my home. What would you have said then?
Instead, I just nodded and said, ‘Yes, we do have books in our home, and we try to read before bed each night.’
At that point, I didn’t have the energy to educate someone who should already know better.
P.S. This was several years ago, and my son and I have both attending private counseling to work through this difficult period in our lives. He currently reads at grade level and has had few behavioral issues at school.” Lacy Rochelle
4. I Was Too “Young” And “Dumb” To Have A Baby
“When I was 23, I went to the doctor for a pregnancy test.
I was in a committed relationship. This was a quick care doctor’s office, not my regular doctor.
In between taking the test and waiting for the doctor, I sat there, and when I think back, I feel like I was so young. I felt like there was so much I hadn’t done yet, and my life was about to turn upside down. Deep down I knew; I just needed to hear it from someone. I was stewing in my own fear and nerves. I was clammy and on the verge of tears or laughter or something. I was truly terrified.
The doctor walked in and sat down.
He looked at my form and looked at me and said, ‘So, you might be pregnant.’ He proceeded to ask why I believed so- symptoms- the usual. He then flipped over the paper which contained the results for my test, and said, ‘It’s positive. You’re pregnant. There’s a few different routes you can take. I can send off a referral to the clinic…’
Keep in mind, my boyfriend wasn’t with me. I didn’t tell my boyfriend I was going- not out of fear, just to give myself some time to process everything before telling him. This doctor assumed I was single and just got ‘knocked up’ and, hey, abortion is always an option! I was floored.
I felt alone and like I wasn’t meant to/didn’t deserve to have a baby. I felt like there was something wrong with me- there must be if this doctor whom I’ve never met before can just look at me and see me as someone who is so vulnerable, alone, (pregnant!) and in need of a point in the right direction.
‘You’re not ready for a baby..’ I could almost read the thought in his head.
I sat there like an idiot in front of him. I couldn’t make eye contact with him. He kept offering me alternatives, referrals, references…
I wanted to scream at him to stop.
I could feel my skin burning. I felt cornered. The baby news kept hitting me in waves, and he kept talking.
I don’t know what it was but something snapped in me (I think I tuned him out and took a deep breath), and I just looked at him and said, ‘My boyfriend and I have been trying. Thank you for your resources, but I have something I need to focus on now.’ And I left.” Lynn Heibert
3. He Didn’t Realize We Needed To Dress Up To A Jaw Surgery Consultation
“This happened to me and my dad when I was like 10.
I was born with a terrible underbite that resulted in 3 sets of braces and jaw surgery. This entire ordeal began when I was a young kid, probably about 10 years old, so my parents were heavily involved in the process.
After a normal appointment, my orthodontist had recommended my dad and I go visit the oral surgeon to discuss our long-term plan for my treatment. As their office was just down the hall, we decided to stop in to make an appointment on our way back to our car.
My father started out doing land-clearing (includes chain saws, grinders, heavy equipment, etc.
– basically a difficult, dangerous job), but eventually made a pretty penny doing developments. Despite this, he still enjoyed wearing his steel-toed work boots, Levi’s and t-shirts. (Although they were an expensive brand, nobody would know to look at them.) Additionally, he still kept running his land-clearing business as it made him happy, and he had many friends in the field. He had come home from work to bring me to my orthodontist appointment, so I happened to be a little dirty from the job. Nothing too nasty, just not dressed up.
We headed into the office only to be greeted by a snooty looking older woman.
She was in business casual clothes, nothing particularly fancy, but acted like she was some sort of duchess. Upon hearing that I needed a consultation for jaw surgery, she looked my father up and down and remarked, ‘I hope you know that’s very expensive and likely out of your price range.’
This set my dad off. He’s typically a kind man who enjoys helping those who are less fortunate than he is. He grew up poor but was still taught to help those who were in a more dire situation, but he is also quick to anger. I’ve never met someone scarier than my father when he is upset and neither had this woman apparently because she ran in the back room to cry.
He never said anything particularly mean but did educate her on treating others on how she wanted to be treated.
Another nice woman helped up set up an appointment, and now, 15 years later, I have a wonderful smile. The woman still works there and still proceeds to be rude every time I call, so clearly, she has a character flaw, and it wasn’t just us.” Erin Sadowski
2. The Greek Emigrant
“This didn’t happen to me, but a friend. Someone who has been a friend for over 45 years.
When she emigrated to Australia from Greece in 1972 at age 18, she worked for a year before starting university.
She found a job at a local bank. The bank manager didn’t quite know what to do with her, so she made him cups of tea and carried envelopes around.
The staff treated her like she was a pet trained monkey.
She applied to Sydney University after her year learning English. This is one of the highest status Universities in Australia.
She graduated with a Medicine degree 6 years later with honors and eventually trained as a specialist pediatrician. She holds an extremely high-status position in my state’s public health system and is regularly invited to give talks at international symposia.
But when she resigned from the bank, the staff there were all surprised.
On her last day, someone actually asked her why she was leaving, and when she said it was to go to university, their jaws dropped. The questioner quite frankly admitted that she had no idea that Dimitra was so intelligent.
Young, pretty, and a Greek accent – obviously stupid!” David Lecomte
Another User Comments:
“They’re the unintelligent ones. I had that kind of attitude thrown at me for decades as a blonde. I once dyed my hair brown and noticed people started treating me respectfully and talking to me as if I was intelligent. I was, and am, but unfortunately, some people have stupid, unwarranted, disrespectful attitudes towards anyone different to themselves, especially females, and especially blonde females.” Cari Percy
1. He Advised Me To Get A “Gender Appropriate” Career If I Wanted To Be Successful
Who is he to assume she doesn’t already have a job, let alone a well-paying one?
“I was in a bar with a female friend and a couple of guys came up to us and tried to impress us with their great jobs doing whatever hell it was they did.
I don’t recall what it was, but I do recall thinking it must be hideously boring.
Without asking me what I did, one of the guys kind of leaned over confidentially and told me that I should learn word processing because the company he worked for had a lot of girls doing that, and it seemed like there were plenty of jobs. And they must be doing well because a couple of them just bought new cars.
This was years ago, obviously.
Do I know anything about computers? He’s assessing me to see if I have the brains to type on a keyboard. He asks if I think I could learn word processing.
It doesn’t seem really hard, so he thinks maybe I could handle it. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to afford a new car someday?
I said, ‘Yeah, I know computers, but my secretary does all my work correspondence for me. And I don’t need a car of my own since I have a company car.’
He didn’t look like he believed me, but I didn’t really care.” Donna Currie
Some of the people in these stories didn’t mean to come off as patronizing, but for the ones that did, I’m sure their snarky judgments made the person they were talking to/about’s blood boil.
Chances are, you’ve experienced a similar condescending moment. We’d love to hear them!