Norbert and I were out in the burbs yesterday to pick up his best friend, who also happens to be named Norbert. (I know...what are the odds? We thought he'd be the only Norbert in his class, and it turns out there are four of them.)
Anyway, I've been wanting Galina Khmeleva's book "Gossamer Webs Design Collection", and we were driving right by, so I asked Norbert if we could stop in at Chix With Stix, a yarn shop in Forest Park, right next to Oak Park. It was fine with him.
I could instantly tell that this was not going to be a good visit. There were three women sitting at a table knitting and talking, and when we walked in the door, they fell silent. I strolled over to the books and startled looking when a woman came up to me and asked me, "Are you looking for something?" Not "Good afternoon. How can I help you?" or "Is there anything I can help you find?"
I told the woman what I was looking for, and she said "We don't have that." Then -- I kid you not -- she turned, walked away, and sat down at the table and picked up her knitting. She didn't ask "Can I recommend 'A Gathering of Lace'?" or "What kind of a shawl are you interested in knitting?"
Norbert wanted to buy some orange baby alpaca that he thought would make a great scarf for Myfanwe, but I didn't want to spend any money there.*
While walking to our car from the AIDS Walk today, I mentioned this to Myfanwe, who has heard me recount similar experiences at several other shops in the past. While I was firmly convinced that this rude behavior was certainly because of prejudice against men who knit, my wife suggested that maybe it wasn't gender bias and that maybe the sales people just didn't like me.
I said, in response, "These sales people didn't even know me!"
Her reply? "Lots of people who don't know you, don't like you."
I couldn't really argue with her.
*I ended up ordering the book used from Amazon.com. I'll take Norbert by Loopy Yarns sometime soon to look for some yarn for his stash. They like boys.