The Politically Correct Cad?

May 22nd, 2012 Posted by Susan's Musings 33 comments

What’s a man to do? Last week my husband was put in an uncomfortable position.  He had to choose between either betraying his standards for acting as a gentleman or potentially harming a long time business relationship.  What happened? A lot of our work entails flying. On many fronts, flying has gotten less pleasant over the past few years, yet arriving at a destination fresh and ready to start work is imperative.  One of the ways we meet this challenge is by using a car service to get to the airport rather than driving ourselves. Not only do we get extra time to collect our thoughts, but the driver stays on top of the latest traffic news and picks the best route. The biggest bonus is the driver’s handling of the luggage, which can be both bulky and weighty when we need multiple changes of clothing for TV tapings as well as books and papers for speech preparation. Over the years we have come to trust one particular company, providing reliable income for them and the above-mentioned benefits for us. Everyone was happy.

Until last week, that is. Instead of one of the drivers we have come to know over the years arriving at our house, this time a slight woman drove up.  Having been trained as a gentleman by his mother and having instilled the same values in our son, my husband was uneasy standing aside while this young woman wrestled with the luggage. Despite her cheerful assertion that, “I’ll handle that,” my husband loaded the car. Had she been built like a stevedore the dilemma would still exist. Neither her ability to lift the bags nor her desire to do so would make my husband feel less like a cad if he stood idly by.

Fortunately, on our return trip one of our regular, husky male drivers picked us up. We are cautiously optimistic that these men will continue to appear at our doorstep. But what if a woman driver does come again? Play out some of the scenarios with me. While I certainly support a woman’s right to earn a living as a driver if she so desires, I also support my right as a customer to patronize a business only when I am receiving value. I don’t like seeing my husband handling the suitcases and I like the fact that he is a gentleman. As such, the company’s benefit to me is heavily reduced when they send a female driver.  Let’s say we request that only male drivers be sent to us. If we are the only ones who do so, there is no problem. Other customers, perhaps ones needing a small child to be driven, may prefer a woman driver and make the opposite demand from ours. But what if most of the customers are men with lots of luggage who feel as my husband and I do? In today’s society will the law require the company to keep someone on payroll with whom its customers aren’t comfortable in order to avoid litigation?

It is all well and good for the law to call for gender equality in employment. But unless we become a socialist or tyrannical state, individuals still have the choice whether to patronize a business or not. I know women who specifically seek the services of a female obstetrician. Should those women be chastised for depressing employment opportunities for male doctors? One of our daughters turned down a nanny position when she discovered that the toddler’s father had fluctuating work hours and would be in the house much of the day. Had the mother worked from home she would have had no problem.  We applauded her decision. Is our case of the female driver the same as or different from those examples? If on our next trip a woman driver appears, what do we do? If we complain we put the company in a difficult situation. If we stay silent, we will inevitably begin to opt more frequently for driving ourselves, which obviously threatens the company’s viablility as well. What would you do?

33 comments

Alena says:

I would let my requests be made known to the company each time you schedule a trip. That you desire a male driver because you have heavy luggage that a female can’t life well. You are not making the request because she is a female but because she lacks the same physical ability to lift your luggage. You are paying to have good service in every aspect of your experience. If they don’t agree, call another company. I would probably start using a different company anyway because any company that hires a female for a man’s job needs to be examined. I couldn’t respect such a company that would put a female in that kind of job. It’s not discriminating. It’s foolish.

Larry Kroger says:

These are interesting questions. Variations on the theme come to mind as well. What if a service provider is troubled by his clients? As a taxi driver, should you be required to transport people you know to be prostitutes or drug dealers in pursuit of their trade? I’ve heard talk (not sure if it’s true) of Muslim drivers who wouldn’t pick up someone with alcohol or a dog, even a Seeing Eye dog. Of course we can point to old-school racial segregation, and ask how we can outlaw the one but not the other. Yes, it’s a slippery slope…a little control leads to a lot of control, and that’s a problem, but I can’t advocate anarchy as a solution. Of course, I realize this is not reciprocal; that is, there may be legal requirements placed on a public service provider that aren’t applied to his clients. But it’s all part of the same big question: To what extent do we collectively override individual discretion, either on the part of the server or the served? Broadly speaking, I feel these days in many cases we’re overriding where we shouldn’t, while in other situations we’re allowing too much individual latitude (for example, the current Justice Dept. insistance that you can’t ask a voter to identify himself is an obvious invitation to fraud, or the lack of expectation that a child be born into a stable family). Ah, well, I guess I’m curious how Rabbi Lapin will answer this question.

Fab says:

Great point. I would tell the company, when I make the reservation, that I have VERY heavy luggage and would prefer a man driver to help me. And I would call myself, a woman, istead of my husband making the call. Hopefully, that should do the trick without overstressing the gender issue 🙂 After all, if we want more space, we do ask for a bigger car… so this is just part of my preferences for what I order… or should be, anyway.
But great post, these are everyday issues that people tend to gloss over in the name of being politically correct (ugh!)

Yvonne says:

Dear Susan,
I, just ask for a male driver.
Greetings, Yvonne

Cath says:

Would you feel the same way if the person driving was male but was obviously impaired and could not lift heavy suitcases? Since you stated that you have used this company for a while, I would communicate your request for a male driver. As customers, if we do not communicate with the service provider, we cannot get upset when there service does not meet our expectations. I seriously doubt that a few requests of this nature will threaten the company’s ability to prosper!

Lynn C. Perrizo says:

I would send the driving company a copy of this “Musings”!
Thank you, Susan, for your weekly contribution to your husbands “Thought Tools”. I so appreciate your level headed approach to the different situations you choose to write about.

James says:

Radio Yerevan in Soviet Armenia used to air madcap dialogues that routinely poked fun at the rigid socialist ideology forced upon the populace by the soviet system. One joke I heard second-hand goes like this:
Q: In keeping with the spirit of genuine socialist equality, can boy carry girl’s books home from school?
A: In principle, yes. But then girl must carry boy!
Women seem to want ‘gender equality.’ What does that mean? Equal pay for equal work? But how many women really want to assume men’s roles? Even if she wants to assume the work of a man, can she in fact?
The answer is, perhaps not in every respect. Ever watch a sweet little daughter enter puberty with its wild mood reversals? Women are both blessed and plagued by a monthly ebb and flow of a tide of hormones that steer the reproductive cycle, but also provoke a roller-coaster ride of emotion. Males may be more emotionally constant, but they often cannot identify with the wide and erratic swings of mood and affect that women must endure. Also there is no denying the increase of muscular strength the male hormone testosterone confers.
A biological imperative defines men and women. But grinning politicians are all too happy to erase distinctions. The socialist’s pipe dream of absolute gender equality is just another step to mold us into one-size-fits-all bricks for Nimrod’s furnace. What is now sold as equality evolves into tyranny and slavery: social police with guns will one day assign us jobs for the benefit of The State. It has already started. I can hear the good Rabbi now: when we wipe away every distinction between men and women everybody loses.
Yet how to cope? I could say: ‘I have medical issues with my back. Please send a male driver who can assist me with my heavy luggage.’ It was the women who chose to dissolve the old chivalry. So when the lady driver arrives: ‘Lady, I have back issues. You applied for a man’s job. So negotiate my heavy luggage.’ Let the punishment fit the crime. Then again he might be astonished: some women are far stronger than they look, and are selected to match the job description in every respect, including physical strength.

MaryLena Anderegg says:

That is a tough situation. It reminds me of something that happened to me in third grade. We lived in a small town with no “public” transportation,only a single taxi company owned by two brothers. One of the brothers I knew very well but, one day, Mother sent me “to town” to run pay a bill. I was then to meet my uncle in town and he would return me home.
When the unknown brother picked me up, he started making conversation by talking about the brother I knew. I only remember one thing he said. “You’ve heard of Dumb?ell, til my brother was ten years old, we didn’t know whether he would walk or fly because his ears were so big.”
I kept quiet until I got home. Then, I wept as I told my mother what had happened. I told her I would never again ride with him unless she was with me. My reason? “If he will lie about his own brother, there’s no telling what he will say about me.”
I never did ride with him again without a parent in the car. Mother made me explain to the known brother why he should never again schedule the offending brother to my call. On a couple of occasions, I had to wait until the trusted brother was available.
In your case, I think it’s only fair to explain to the company exactly what the problem is and give them the opportunity to develop an appropriate solution. If they choose not to, it’s time to look for another car service. I believe when they look at your record with them, they will be eager to avoid a repetition. I also believe they will respect you for having been both honest and honorable.
Blessings to you both.

Jennifer says:

The politically correct action (which is NOT always the same thing as the morally correct action) is to accept a woman driver if the company sends one and to allow her to do her job. She took the job fully understanding what it would entail and you must assume she wants to fulfill her obligation. You should allow her to do so and try not to show how distressed you are by watching her struggle with heavy bags.
Morally this is a grey area. I admire a man’s protective instincts and concern for a woman’s well-being and your husband’s instinct to help the female driver is admirable. Complaining to the company about her – even so much as merely requesting any other driver but her – will damage her in her chosen profession, regardless of how others may or may not accept or request her. It is turning the protective instinct into hurtful action.
My opinion in this situation is that, for once, the politically correct and morally correct things to do are the same. Be kind and respectful to the female driver but allow her to do her job unaided, no matter how uncomfortable that makes you feel, and allow her to judge her own limits. You are hiring her company for a specific task and it is most respectful to allow the representative the company sends to do that task, regardless of her gender.

Doug says:

Personally, I think that I would relax. Sometimes we are so focused on our values and rules of engagement that we miss the freedom God clearly extends to each one of us as true sons and daughters. Your daughter’s decision to turn down the nanny job is in a different category of uncomfortablility and should be applauded as prudent. Your uncomfortabilty with a female driver is understandable, but if I were in your shoes, I would overlook it based on her freedom to choose the job – and I would allow her the freedom to struggle with the luggage while I enjoyed the freedom not to. Conscience clear. If she could not perform the task of the luggage, and resorted to asking for help – now the complaint back to her company becomes something different than a discussion of your values versus those of other customers. So, I say unless your driver simply can’t do the job, relax and enjoy the ride.

Lori Bedo says:

I love this post. My answer is to request a male driver when making the reservation. No one gets offended and the company understands the need you have and the values you hold. Comunicate. You get your need addressed and the company keeps an excellant client.

Lori Bedo says:

Comunicate. If the company in question knows your needs and your values, they will most likely , if wanting to keep you as a customer, gladly send you a male driver that can assist you effectively.
In our automotive repair business, “communication” allows us to provide a car service for our customers who are elderly or who need a drive to work. This service also allows us to “get the job” we would not have gotten otherwise. We would want to keep your business and would make the extra effort to meet your need.
So, What would I do? Communicate.

Warren Ward says:

I know it is a real problem for honorable men. Propriety is important. I have had similar situations with delivery people. I don’t want to help, but if it is a female or the elderly, I HAVE to. It’s my Texan nature.

Mary says:

I enjoy reading your thoughts Susan. I’d be inclined to email the company, compliment them for hiring women, and then state your position. I’d encourage them to offer a “driver gender selection” when you schedule their services as you pointed out some will prefer a male driver, others may prefer a woman, and others may not care. This will let the company offer even better service to their customers. They can also base their future hiring decisions on the information they get from customer requests.

Jean says:

Hello Susan
I’ve been on the other side and had to hire for what had traditionally been jobs held by men. I always tried to make it clear that there would be physical labor involved – lifting up to 70#, for example. If a female applicant chose to continue with the interview, she was forewarned and was expected to perform to the task afterward. I was pleasantly shocked to witness one 4’10” woman easily heft 70# boxes of paper with the grace of the athlete she was. Companies have to consider all qualified applicants, but then they have to apply standards equally to employees.

Sharon says:

As a lady, I had in my earlier life worked in what we call “men’s field”. Did everything a man did. I knew the job description and didn’t expect any less that the man. I made the same hourly wage as the men so I expect to do the same or not apply. the thing is with that attitude, I and the men worked together. There were some things a man couldn’t physically do but with the both of us we got the job done. It was tough but it was good money and I was raising my child alone, had no other choice but live on the Gov’t. That I forbid. But I also believe you have the right of your choices, and if your husband feels unconfortable of a woman carrying his luggage, he has that right. Or, look at it this way, she is there serving you and she is very much aware what she agreed to do for her company. Don’t feel uneasy but look at it as this is what she does to serve her company and you.

Yvonne M says:

As a kindergarten teacher I do home visits in the summer before school begins. One year I declined to do a home visit to a single father since I would be alone with him at his home. He accused me of “taking sides” in his divorce since I had already been to the Mom’s house. I felt more than fine declining, and more than fine explaining my position to him and I felt no concern if he did not respect my position. He had a choice to believe me or not and he decided to not. I appreciate your discussion on gender issues that is so relevant, and yet often not spoken of.

Bernie says:

I was glad to hear how you expanded this story to apply to other situations in life. In this case, I totally understand the dynamics. However, it’s an assumption that every man will be better suited to handle the luggage. Remember also that some women may not appreciate the help and so you risk offending by helping/doing their job. I’d be more concerned with their driving record! Therefore, I’d let the company know of your stipulation for a driver who excels in both conditions. And pray like everything depends on the Lord.

Wow! I love all the comments. I also love how people can disagree and still be respectful of a different opinion – something which is frequently sorely lacking today. I want to make one point clear which I may not have stressed enough. My husband’s unwillingness to watch a woman load the luggage while he stood aside has to do with the threat to his own value system, not concerns that she might not be up to the job. We easily get habituated to things we do. He doesn’t want to stop feeling an internal requirement to be responsible to help women with physical labor.

vanaly palmer says:

no question…having had recent back surgery, it would be stupid for me to do the lifting (if i were a man)…one of the requirements for taking you to the airport is a driver that will handle the luggage without making YOU (the customer) feel uncomfortable… it is part of the service pkg…and it would be better if the company knew your wishes in advance…it would prevent repercussions later…no one can object to good manners…and if they do..it is their bad manners to do so.. a woman alone might want another woman to drive…and wouldn’t mind having the woman lift her luggage as part of the service pkg… a man alone, or with another woman is a different matter…the company would be wise to consider this…God bless you for your thoughtfulness…

David Watkins says:

If she has a problem with the luggage, offer to help. Otherwise, offer to help but give her the respect of letting her do it.

Gidon Ariel says:

Glad I saw this after Susan got a chance to clarify.
It seems to me that neither of these values – chivalry and politically correct gender equality – are Halachic Jewish Torah values. Nor do I remember any responsa succeeding or even trying to plug them into Halacha.
Therefore, I would suggest that it is up to you to decide which value speaks to you more if they are irreconcileable.
I would however suggest that, being that these are not eternal Torah values, you should “get with the times” and realize that the second has replaced the first.
Alternately, you should recognize that modern media and the like have pushed their agenda to affect that replacement, and therefore fight for the first.
BTW, I am glad you have started posting articles that welcome and encourage comments!

Bil says:

Assumption that a woman can’t do the same job as a man simply because of her gender, is tantamount to the liberal left giving “affirmative action” benefits to minority races, because they believe that that race, simply because it is a different one, is incapable of achieving what anyone else would be expected to do. Its a bit of a slight on women in general to assume they couldn’t handle a chauffeuring job.
However, it certainly is within a customer pervue to have service that makes them comfortable. I’m sure there are homosexual clientele who request “gay friendly” drivers when ordering car service..
I am curious as to the thoughts of the readers of requesting of a car service that they only send english-as-a-first-language speaking drivers.. or a vocal Athiest requesting that the driver not have any regligious symbolism in the car they ordered (e.g. no turbans, yamikas, torahs, bibles, crosses) .. perhaps requesting that the drivers be politically conservative, or politically liberal?
requesting the driver not have a beard? or must only have a beard? .. where would it stop ?
if the female driver was unable to lift, that is a whole different thing.. but Susan said that though the female driver was able and willing to lift, it ruffled the chivalrous feathers of the good Rabbi.. it made him uncomfortable to witness an apparent “weaker vessel” do the work of “a man” … would that be self imposed guilt?
whatever the reasons, my conclusion remains the same.. a customer should feel right, well, good and comfortable with the service they request, and a respectable company would honor those requests, if presented in a positive light.. i think if you said “yeah i don’t want no dame dooin’ ma’ luggage, they cain’t thar handle it cuz they’s jus’ a gurl” . probably won’t get it.. but saying ‘i prefer male chauffeurs for my service, could you accomodate this request’ .. shouldn’t be a problem.

Jim says:

Values are important. They tell us how we are relating to God. They define who we are, and they tell the world around us who we are. But by far the most important are the values we learn from God. So if values conflict in our mind, it is God’s that must prevail, even over our own long standing codes and practices.
Consider the privilege that God gave us to work. Six days we get to labor and after one day of rest, we are permitted the privilege of working again. Now the lady driver shows up to do the work she is privileged to be assigned. Would God deny her that? Or, did He grant her that? My feeling is the code of chivalry is not damaged one bit by allowing her to do her job…..by herself. What an act of respect, that simultaneously allows her to maintain her own self respect! If she struggles, my guess is that a helping hand would be welcomed and the right thing to do.
Thank you for sharing this situation with us. I think God gives us these challenges both to learn more about Him and to develop our relationship with those around us. Your sharing allows each of us to search for the answer we would hope to give, as well as to see the answers of others.

Tyler says:

I must begin by disclosing that I am employed by the car service that has had the great pleasure to serve the Lapin family for over 10 years. I am also somewhat biased in that the Rabbi and his wife are my personal favorite clients to serve. While embarrassed that this topic is raised in such a public format, I do welcome the chance to address the concern.
When I entered the chauffeured industry twenty years ago there were no females drivers. Times have changed and they now make up a respectable percentage of chauffeurs. Many companies are now owned by woman and the gender roles have become…um…muddled. Even one of the technicians at our local Les Schwab tire dealership is a young woman. (She would not have any trouble with luggage by the way) I guess our traditions are slowly changing. The Rabbi has addressed this far more effectively than I can. His stance on the subject echoes my own.
Now how do we resolve the problem? I agree with most of the posted comments that notifying the company with your preference is the best method. We have had similar requests before. We respect them and make them a part of our service. Hindsight makes it painfully obvious that our company did not take into account factors that dictated a different chauffeur to be the preferred choice. Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin need not worry about communicating their preference though as I read the “Musings” the minute they arrive in my email and have made their wishes known to the company. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lapins and look forward to many more years of this very beneficial relationship. I apologize for the oversight. It shall not happen again.

Oh dear, Tyler. Now I’m embarrassed that you’re apologizing and embarrassed. You serve a great company which we love using. I wrote about it here because I think this is an issue which crops up more and more. The gender lines in society are getting so blurred – to the point that bathrooms on some college campuses are not gender specific – that we are all affected by it. I do believe that God wants us to differentiate clearly between men and women, though that doesn’t mean that the way society did that at any particular era (other than perhaps the desert of Sinai) was by definition the right way.
I also think that while legislation and the judicial system are needed for a society, we have crossed a line where freedom is overly constrained in the name of equality. The two concepts war with each other and either extreme of the pendulum is dangerous for a society’s functioning.
We appreciate taking our preferences into account and look forward to seeing you.

Alan says:

Let her carry and pack the luggage. That’s what she wants to do and that’s what she gets paid to do. You degrade her by not letting her do her job.
Maybe suggest to the company that if they must send a woman, she should be as big and strong as the male drivers.
Alan

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Alan—
The issue is not whether it degrades her. Since I am paying for the service, that is not my paramount concern. (Paid work is not degrading.) The issue is whether watching a woman do my heavy lifting degrades and desensitizes me! And Susan and I agree that it does. This is why we have told the car service that we don’t want female drivers when we have much baggage.
Warmest regards.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Desiree says:

I agree with you Susan, that’s an awkward position to be in. For your particular situation, I’d let it go unless another woman was sent to you. Then, I would tactfully say something to the owner. If he values your loyalty–and I would imagine–referrals, then he’ll be sure to only send you male drivers. I would think there would be no problem at all. And to the woman driver, simply because women are allowed to work and do whatever we like does not mean that we should.

mrs martinez says:

I have already had the same discussion with my 80 yr old father: Let her do it, it’s her job. You’ve earned the luxury of having someone else-no matter their sex-carry your bags. If you are PAYING for a service, then you should let WHOEVER is assigned the service provide it,. You should still be gracious and thankful. The ONLY reason to complain to the company is if she CANT do the job you expect: either because the bags are too heavy, or it takes her too long to get them loaded into the car (bc of their weight), or she is a poor driver. One can’t compare service providers like chauffeurs and telephone repairmen to obstetricians. Your chauffeur isn’t going to see you naked nor pry into your personal health history! Finally, as long as his/her appearance is “professional” with regard to the job, and the job is performed correctly/to your satisfaction, the physique or sex of of the chauffeur should make NO difference! (Even if it does give you “second thoughts” at their first appearance.) I think the issue may also simply be that a strange, unfamiliar face showed up at your door. Perhaps, since you use this company so often, you could ask for a call when the driver is on the way,(“Jane is on her way to pick you up and will be there in 20min”), so you will be prepared for the person who arrives.

Peter B. , Charlotte N.C. says:

Susan, what fun your post post and the comments are this week! As a quasi-veteran (i.e. at least 12 mos. and counting) afficianado your husband’s books, thought tools, etc., my thinking on what to do goes something like this:
“My, it’s a fine day for a business trip with my lovely wife, and here I’ve got these certificates of appreciation in my pocket which I’m always more than happy to put back in circulation when the right opportunity presents itself. The occasion of meeting up with my driver (and by extension his fine employer) is always just such an occasion.”
“Uh oh . . problem! I’m not sure I’m feeling particularly appreciative with today’s business arrangement. Thus, my expected opportunity for sharing my certificates of appreciation is, well, shall I say diminished somewhat. What’s even more troubling, based upon these new data points, our continued business relationship may just have assumed a downward trajectory.”
Since God wants us all to prosper by pleasing our neighbor and thereby receiving certificates of appreciation for so doing, your husband has in my opinion done just exactly the right thing by communicating to your car service business partner how he might best preserve the win-win character of his business arrangement with Rabbi and Mrs. Daniel Lapin moving forward. Happy motoring and safe travels.

Jan says:

Since you indicated the luggage normally is quite heavy, I personally would request a male driver for future trips. We pay for a service but that doesn’t mean we should ignore certain facts and by making your requests known, it gives the provider the opportunity of avoiding an awkward situation as you indicated and continue to provide you with service you wish to receive. A lot of women can do heavy lifting for a time but since women are not built like men, they do not have the upper body strength a man has. If she tries to do a “man’s” job that requires a lot of upper body strength, her body breaks down sooner than most of her male counterparts. She gets injured more quickly and has more injuries than a man as a result. As a Workman’s Compensation adjuster, I dealt with businesses that had to hire women when they could pass the physical requirements of the job. However, statistically women get injured more often than most of the men doing heavy labor and the employers can’t let them go without expecting a lawsuit. Employers have to weigh which lawsuit is the least expensive WC or a discrimination lawsuit.

YYhMsD@gmail.com says:

We help companies stay innovated when we express our needs. The company can choose what customer input will deem adjustments of services they will make or disregard, just as we can choose which service we will or will not use. Shalome!

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