My So-called Menses

by M. Lizabeth Currain

I don’t know how many of my dear readers are female, but if there is one out there, then this will at least be relatable to one person, and that’s all that really matters. Touching one life at a time.

I’m just going to assume if you are a female, that at one time or another, someone you know (or don’t know) has blamed your “attitude” on your (pre)menstrual cycle. I, for one, am bothered by this.

Here’s a clip from “The Office” as an example. You can watch the whole clip on Hulu.com

This might be a little bit of a bad example, because it’s honestly one of the funniest moments on “The Office”; and sweetest! But you understand where I am going with this? Because a woman is crying, she automatically has to be on her period?

Most of the time, at least in my case, the perpetrators are other women. Rarely has a male’s reaction to my attitude been, “you on the rag or something?” Usually they just want me fired (true story)! I feel like women commenting on another woman’s menstrual cycle falls into one of two categories: trying to relate or trying to berate. OH SHIT! I JUST RHYMED! HOLLA!

::ahem:: Both of my examples come from work (of course) which I find both odd and disrespectful. Maybe it’s how I was raised, or maybe I’m just not an idiot, but when I’m at the grocery store and the girl at the checkout is angry, yet again, (maybe it’s a New York thing? I have yet to go to a grocery story where the girls at the check out are in a good mood) I don’t proceed to ask them if they are PMSing and if they would like a Premysn.

So in the first instance, I was at work, at the register, trying to get through a line of people, filling out furniture contracts, answering people’s inane questions about what’s on sale, even though there are a million signs, and some jackson avenue is playing one of the pianos. And we all know how I feel about people playing the piano. I ask one of my coworkers if they can ask the person to stop playing the piano, because I can’t concentrate on what I am trying to do. Then this Chatty Cathy in line starts running her mouth asking why I don’t like the people playing the piano.  I try to explain to her that between the (god awful) music we have playing in the store, the questions I have to answer while I’m trying to ring people up, and someone who thinks they are Beethoven in the back, it’s very hard for me to concentrate on being 100% accurate on the register. I know! Taking my job somewhat seriously?! How dare I!! She then proceeds to ask me, in a somewhat “woman to woman” tone: “Are you sure it’s not just PMS?”

::silence::

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Because I want to be able to concentrate on what I am doing, without the added annoyance of  this:

I am suddenly and most definitely PMSing? Also, how is that an appropriate thing to say to someone you don’t know, at their job?I think it was slightly more annoying because of her tone; like she was she was giving me a verbal “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” like we had a secret in common. Listen lady, I don’t know you, stop trying to be all up in my business. Also, she seemed close to retiring to Shady Pines, so I am doubtful she even remembers what PMS is.

On the berating front of this equation, I have this scenario to offer: Again, I am at the register, ringing people up, trying to stay calm while I have a line that is wrapping around the counter; because we were having a huge sale going on; when my line comes to a stand-still. A woman is at the register, UNDECIDED. There is nothing that irks me more, than working behind the register, trying to keep a line moving, and having someone mess up the flow of things. I like people to be prepared, and already know what they want–I really don’t think that I am asking a lot of them. So she has about five items and is trying to decided which one to give up. So she decides to get rid of one that was $10 and keep the one that was $5. Meanwhile, the line is building and my blood pressure is rising and I am having a hard time refraining from yelling at her to hurry it up. So after I finish ringing her up, she decides that she wants the shirt she put back, instead of the one she kept. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but she was already working my last nerve, and plus, I have to cancel everything out and re-ring it, because I am working with a register that looks like this:

Pretty intense and pretty true to life.

So of course when I am finished re-ringing it, her total ends up being more than it was the first time, because the shirt she put back was less expensive than the one she decided to take. Not really rocket science. Here is a play-by-play of what happened next. She is going to be referred to henceforth as “scrubs” because that’s what she was wearing. Also, anything that I said was usually accompanied by a sigh, an eye roll, and an abrupt tone of voice that I save for people I am officially over. One more thing, if what Scrubs is saying is grammatically incorrect, it is intended. I’m all about realness.

Scrubs: Why is it more now?

Me: Because the shirt you put back was $5 and the one you got was $10. ::disgruntled sigh::

I tossed her stuff in a plastic bag because I only fold things for people who don’t irritate me. I started ringing up the next person.

Scrubs: (She started getting high and mighty; you could hear it in her voice) Can I have paper bag? ( I handed her the paper bag) You just toss my stuff in bag like it’s garbage. I paying customer too. You have attitude problem.

So then, some random guy comes up from the basement and she looks at him:

Scrubs: Why aren’t you at register? The men here are so much nicer. All the women here have problem!

At this point, if I hadn’t of said anything, I think my head would have exploded. I also want to commend myself on the fact that I was able to keep ringing people up while in the middle of my outburst against this woman.

Me: (looking right at her) YEAAAAAH, WE ALL GOT PROBLEMS DON’T WE!

Scrubs: You have a attitude problem. I don’t know what your problem is!

Me: I’ll tell you what my problem is. My problem is you.

Scrubs: You need fix your attitude.

Me: It will be once you walk out that door.

Scrubs: You have problem. You must be on period!

What was mildly entertaining about this exchange, was that I was being very pleasant to everyone else that I was ringing up, in the midst of my argument with this woman. Also, when she said the word “period” one of my male supervisors was walking by and got this really confused and grossed out look on his face.

So she finally decides to leave and on her way out she is stopping random male employees/volunteers near the door to tell them how nice they are. So I shouted, “HAVE A NICE DAY!”.

I am sorry, but I think a woman blaming another woman’s disposition on her period is a woman-on-woman crime. It only perpetuates the ancient stereotype of women being raging beasts during their “time of the month”. That’s not something we should be encouraging. I think it partly has to do with the caliber of people that I am dealing with. None of them are emotionally or mentally capable of realizing that my attitude is proportional to their stupidity. It has nothing to do with the fact that I may or may not be menstruating. It’s hard for them to accept. They want to blame my uterus for the poor customer service they are receiving. I take full responsibility for whatever level of customer service I am doling out, PMS has nothing to do with it–I hate you whether I am bleeding or not. Simple as that.

The lesson: My uterus is not to be trifled with.