I love shopping in electronics stores.  Seeing rows of hardware gets my mouth watering.  I enjoy researching which parts would best suit my personal needs, and the specs of my machine.  I can spend hours hopping from web site to web site making sure that I have found the best match.  So, what is my big complaint about electronics stores?  Their staff.

On nearly every occasion that I have purchased from local electronics stores, I have had a friendly, but pushy, salesMAN try to change my mind about the hardware I have selected.  And it has never been a subtle thing either.  It always comes down to him thinking that he knows better what I need than I do.

Why do store personnel think they can diagnose my hardware issues without ever seeing my machine, but at the same time think that I cannot diagnose the issue when I have the machine in front of me?  Oh yeah, I forgot, I have breasts.  And having breasts is somehow inconsistent with being able to construct a computer from parts and make it run efficiently.

Let me just sling these bad boys over my shoulders and get down to brass tacks.  I know what I am doing.  I have built many computers from scratch.  I have refurbished tons of older machines so that they would still be usable; mostly for pre-schools running older software, but also for Linux-distro firewalls (being on the core development team does have its advantages.)  I have replaced CPUs, hard-drives, floppies, NICs, modems, opticals, MB batteries, and memory (yes, even the old spider memory in my Dad’s 8088).

Back to the electronics stores.  There are ways for women to get past this male-centric “help”.  The first way is to out talk the salesperson.  Basically, I keep getting more and more technical until I pass their understanding threshold, and they suddenly remember a shelf that needs restocking.  While very effective, this sometimes takes time, and I don’t usually have time.  A common Geek failing is that we try to get more done in 24 hours than is humanly possible.

The second, and sometimes best, way to get around the male-centric help is to play dumb.  Yes, become what they believe you are, but with a twist.  “I know you are probably right that this Ess-Ay-Tee-Ay <giggle> is the best drive to get, but I spoke with the SYSadmin at work, and I really have to just get an Ay-Tee-Ay with THESE specs.  The SYSAdmin said it is the only thing that will work on that particular machine.  I know you have adapters, but I really don’t want to get on the SYSadmin’s bad side, or the next time my desktop breaks, I may have to wait forever to get it fixed.”  Notice that I don’t admit *I* am the SYSAdmin, and that I always fix MY machine before I fix anyone else’s.  <grin>

I know, I am perpetuating the stereotype that breasts and computers can’t go together.  But you know what, I don’t care.  It gets me out of the store faster and back to my java and Civ 3.  After all, anything that gets me back to my morning cup of life can’t be all that bad.