When you’ve been around someone for 40 years, you just know.
Your gut can predict a reaction and the subsequent discussion.
I was just glad for a change that it wasn’t something I did.
The letter in the mail had my name on it and our insurance company’s logo in the corner.
My wife Jolene and I have had this discussion often in the past. Many businesses simply ignore the woman in the partnership.
Never mind that she did the research to find the right insurance company for our needs.
Never mind that she is the working member of the family.
Never mind that she made the phone calls and entered into the contract.
And never mind that it was her claim on her car that the company was responding to.
But there it was in the mail. The letter addressed to: “William E. Bilinski.”
And I had nothing to do with the issue.
If this was the only experience my wife has had with businesses operating this way, she would have let it pass.
She is no rebel looking for attention and generally prefers to remain in the background. But she doesn’t accept gender slights particularly well. And there have been many.
Usually, her response produces a little seething and a speech to me about how insulting it is — I nod in agreement — before moving on.
Not this time.
She called the company to express her surprise and disappointment. The company’s response was less than satisfying.
“That’s just how we do it,” the company rep said.
My wife’s response: “It’s not 1975. It’s 2022.”
No understanding from the company rep, a female by the way. No promise to address the situation or even consider discussing it. No pretense of understanding.
It was insult to insult.
As a sports editor for 27 years, I took a few complaint calls. I can’t imagine an angry mom calling and me responding: “Could I speak with your husband please?”
That’s kind of how my wife felt.
And I get it.
We’re equal partners. Many companies make women invisible partners.
I’m not sure what reasons there are for companies going down this path. But it doesn’t go unnoticed.
There wasn’t any female in my wife’s world who didn’t get it. One of her colleagues applauded her for taking the difficult step of making the call and complaint.
Her close friend, a business owner, described her own frustrations because “it happens all the time.”
I doubt many men would appreciate being similarly dismissed.
But there are solutions.
Two hours after the unsatisfying phone call with our insurance company, we had a new policy in place with another company. And, of course, my wife managed to save a few bucks in the process.
Here’s hoping there are no Christmas cards addressed only to me this December from our new insurance company.