BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Wife Skills 101

Posted by ehutch on July 27, 2009

waitressI’d like to dedicate this blog post to waitresses everywhere.

After being wrapped up in my liberal, progressive city college bubble for four years, I spent my year after graduation working two different internships and tutoring children in an after-school program. My nights were consumed by waiting tables at an upscale restaurant in Pittsburgh, a job I came to love after all it taught me about sustainability and food, and the exposure to so many different types of people on a nightly basis.

One evening I cleared a series of cleanly-licked entrée plates from a table of four satisfied guests, when an older gentleman gave me the kitschy “wow, that was great… did you cook it?” line in regards to his meal.   (This was a standard tacky comment I had heard many times before…he was the type of guy that would look down at an empty plate and say “can I have the rest to go?” and smile, or say “That was terrible” after clearly savoring every morsel.)  Like most comments I wasn’t amused,  but my response to customer satisfaction was the result of my brain being on autopilot, much like the acronym I had used to remember the dessert menu.

“No, you don’t’ want me cooking your food” I replied with a secretary smile, “I’m not much of a chef”.

“Well, you better learn how to cook.. or you’ll never be able to get married,” he proudly stated, like I should have been thankful for his archaic advice.

In my brain, the proverbial record had skipped.

I had spent my youth embracing my passions, traveling around the world and excelling in athletics; my bachelorette resumé included being a well-educated female, with remarkable patience and a thirst for knowledge, on top of a dry yet lovable sense of humor.  What was I thinking,  when the section titled “kitchen skills” had slipped past the page margins?!

I was known for being the loquacious, bubbly server who had something to say about everything.. and there I stood, speechless. I wanted so badly to express my views, and debunk his notions of wife prerequisites. But more than that, I wanted to say something to his wife sitting next to him, who was then looking away with aloofness. Was this a battle worth fighting? I couldn’t. In my job, the customer was always right.

So I swallowed my pride (and feminism), faster than this guy sitting down could eat his amuse-bouche. And to this day, I still feel guilty about it.

This wasn’t my first or last battle with sexist stereotypes, and I’m sure every woman out there has a story like this to tell. For me, it was just a small memento of how far we’ve come in certain areas,  and how far we (as women) have left to go.

And for the record, I can cook.  I won’t be getting a James Beard Award anytime soon, but I’m certainly capable of whipping up a dinner for four. And when I have a family someday, I will be happy to cook for them… but not because its my responsibility as a woman, but because I enjoy doing it.

photo credit


2 Responses to “Wife Skills 101”

  1. stephanie said


    thank you.

  2. espressodog said

    Bubbly? Really?!

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