Thankfully the "outdoor sisterhood" to the rescue! My traveling companion, friend, outdoor sister and fellow woods runner Jane Kolmer, Owner, President, and creative genius at Action Graphics generously supplied me with this guest post about her "Social Experiment" during the NWTF convention. Welcome Jane and Thank YOU!
|Jane (L) and our other Outdoor Sister Marti Davis(R) at the EAR,Inc. Booth examining the custom made hearing protection available|
A Social Experiment
It started out simply enough. While at the NWTF National convention in Nashville, I decided to stop by the booth of a major gun manufacturer and ask the guys working if they knew my son (Moms like to do that). On my first approach, the guys were busy hustling around helping people get familiar with their weapons so it was easy to see why they didn’t have time to look in my direction, after all, I wasn’t going to buy a gun, I just wanted to talk. They must have known that innately, so I decided I would come back later.
On my second approach, all of the attendants were still busy talking to attendees and showing them the latest and greatest in their product line. I decided to hang around awhile and look at the firearms in their booth and wait for a pause in the action to say “hey”. After all, I am a firearms fan, so spending a little time admiring and handling their product was not an unpleasant way to spend my time. After about 10 minutes, I decided they were all still too busy and went on my way with the intention of coming back again after my “rounds”.
I am in the market for a new handgun, so I headed over to the Ruger table. Ruger had a really nice display of several cabled handguns. It was crowded, so I had to push my way to the handguns. After the third fellow gun enthusiast bumped me out of the way I started to get a little testy, so I pushed my way back in to get a better look and claim my space at the table. Picking up each gun for better inspection I found one I thought might be a good fit and tried to get the salesman’s attention. Funny, he didn’t seem to see me. He did however see the guy next to me, and every guy after that who approached the table. He even managed to address them with comments like “Nice isn’t it?” and “Do you have any questions?” I started to sense something may be amiss.
After all, I was personally responsible for most of the firearms in our home’s multiple gun safes. I grew up with guns. I like guns, believe in the 2nd Amendment and had money in my wallet. What was the problem?
A quick self check assured me that I hadn’t mistakenly worn my cloak of invisibility to the show. I think I looked like I could afford a gun. I was dressed neatly and even took a shower before I left the hotel. Then it came to me… the purse. I was carrying a designer purse. Must be the purse! No prospective gun buyer wears a purse. None of the hard-hitting female outdoors shooters and writers I was hanging with that weekend carried a purse. They all had fanny packs and backpacks. So I ditched the purse and bought a $14 camo backpacks and headed back to Ruger.
Nope, wasn’t the purse. I still couldn’t manage to gain the attention of an attendant. A warm sensation started crawling up my neck. It was a mixture of dawning awareness, anger and a dash of hurt feelings. Surly not. Not here. Not at NWTF where I have personally been a sponsor for the past decade plus. Was my invisibility because I am a… woman? I mean, I was a little surprised when I registered for the show and they didn’t have any record of me, my business, or the fact that I had been a NWTF sponsor for most of my adult life. But they did finally find me (under my husband’s name, even though it was my business that was the NWTF sponsor and my work that had been donated to the NWTF over the years). And I was kind of taken back when the retiree working the door said “I’ve got your partner right here, Baby” when I hit the convention floor the day before. But in my everyday world sexism isn’t an issue. My days are full of power hitting outdoors women and business people. So this new sensation caught me off guard and my “social experiment” had officially begun.
During the course of the next two days I systematically visited every gun dealer at the convention multiple times. With every stop, my suspicions were reinforced. Not even after I scored a sharp looking Camo vest from my buddy Sparky Sparks at M2D Camo could I get gun attendants to ask if they could help me. The knife dealers could see me, why couldn’t the gun dealers? I think Remmington was the biggest disappointment (they are my gun of choice) because they even had a female attendant. Why WAS she there? A token perhaps?
|Jane withe her new M2D Camo Vest Courtesy of M2D President "Sparky" ; who was more than happy to spend lots of time talking with both Jan and myself!|
On my fifth visit to the manufacturer my son works for my social experiment was officially completed. Being the only person in the booth and with my hands on their guns, all three attendants turned their backs on me, walked to the aisle and stood at attention looking for better prospects. So I did what anybody would do at that point. I walked up to the closest one, touched him on the arm, looked him directly in the eye and said “Hey, do you know my son”?