Know the details

2022 June portrait, WYO Writers

My heart falls when I walk into the equipment or car dealership and see a woman on the other side of the counter. I admit that I am sexist when it comes to fetching parts for 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. That is quite helpful when I am presented with a part and I see it’s not the right piece. My preference is to take the injured whatzit with me to the parts store. Now, if I have neither been present for the extraction nor have a part in hand, I am at the mercy of the parts representative. Often, we get my husband on the phone, and he and the parts person can talk directly. 

I am not betraying my gender but please, 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 scenario.

Then there are the businesses 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 the Gambles hardware store in Hot Springs, S.D. 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. 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 many things was when a man came in and asked me for a bastard file. I was shocked. Why would he talk like that 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. It also taught me that I needed to know more about the merchandise in the store.

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

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