Peggy Sanders
Oral, S.D.

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March 17, 2014
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Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 3-15-14

Incompetence in the work place bothers me a great deal. And, I am sexist. I get sent to collect parts for all manner of farm machinery; sometimes I have been present when the surgery was performed on the broken down machine, and I know what the part is supposed to look like and where it fits on the machine. That is quite helpful when I am presented with a part and I can tell the parts clerk that it’s not the right piece. My preference is to take the injured whatzit with me to the parts store, so they can measure it and look it over. Now, if I have neither been present for the extrication nor have an item to match, I am at the mercy of the parts representative and with any luck, we can get my husband on the phone, and he and the parts clerk can talk directly. Yet my heart falls when I walk into the equipment or car dealership and see a woman on the other side of the counter.

Am I betraying my gender? No, I just would like to upbraid them a bit. Ladies, if you are working the front, and waiting on customers, know your stuff — and act like it; exude confidence and then your customers will trust you. Nothing makes me wonder if I will be taking the right part home more than the little lady who turns to the man in the department and asks him, “Is that right?” at every little turn. Yes, I allow for training and learning, but you can tell when someone is brand new, and that is a different deal.

Then there are the businesses that are run by husband and wife teams. How can you tell? There are usually only the two of them working, and no matter what she says, he jumps in and corrects/contradicts/chastises her. He would not do that if she were not his wife. If he did, he would be seeking a new associate within a very short time.

To be fair, I have been on the other side of the counter myself. When I was a senior in high school, I worked at a hardware store. I thought it was odd when a man wanted to buy a battery and all I had to do was read a posted chart, find his vehicle on the list, and sell him the battery. This was not difficult. But more than once I had men who declined to buy from me; said they would just, “Wait for Jim.” The instance that took the cake, though, and taught me something was when a man came in and asked me for a bastard file. I was incensed! Why would he be vulgar to a young girl who was just doing her job? I calmly showed him where the files were, and lo and behold, the one he selected WAS a bastard file — it said so right on the package. I learned that the term signifies the pattern of the lines on the file and I learned that I needed to know more about the merchandise in the store.

Peggy Sanders writes from the family ranch near Oral, S.D. Her email latchstring is always out at

Ladies, if you are working the front, and waiting on customers, know your stuff — and act like it; exude confidence and then your customers will trust you.

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