September 13, 2010

The Steve's Incident


I wanted to look into buying some audio gear, as well as a new guitar (I'll be trading on one of my others to afford it). While there are a few great music stores in town, not many of them have large geeky audio gear sections. I decided on Steve's Music, because it's huge and was likely to have everything I needed. It's also more central than Long and McQuade.

Now, I don't go to Steve's very often. It's a notorious wiener fest, and I've never seen a woman employed there, let alone shopping there (although I'm sure they get the occasional gal customer). That kind of an atmosphere drives me mental, but I was trying not to write it off completely just because they are an old/young boys club.

The guitar section had some promising stuff, and I headed on up to the audio floor to ask some questions about a recording program I wanted to buy.

As a backgrounder, I taught radio editing in university as a TA, and I'm pretty familiar with the basics of sounds recording in general. I'm not a pro by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not completely useless either.

I approached the counter and asked a couple of simple questions to the dude working there. When his answers didn't match the answers I've gotten from my sound technician friends, I made broke the cardinal rule of being delicate with the ego of an angry male. I said, "Really? Are you sure?"

Word to the wise: questioning the expertise of aged audio guys is never going to be pretty, but especially so if the guy in question has an audio god complex.

The dude, clearly offended, took the opportunity to school me, loudly and rudely. He responded with the unsurprising, "Listen, I've been doing this for 30 years, I know what I'm doing and you don't" speech. The way he turned his words, the pointed digs he made, and the general tone of his response rubbed me in entirely the wrong way.

Maybe he treats all his customers like shit, but I got the impression that my gender made his attack a lot meaner. Who knows.

I'm usually pretty good at staying calm in the face of asinine behaviour, but for some reason, I was unprepared. I got angry, left the store fuming, walked halfway down the block, and decided not to let him off the hook. I marched back into the store and filed a complaint with a very polite guy who seemed to be in charge. He asked me if it would help if he got someone else to answer my questions, and although I said no, I appreciated the offer. I ended the conversation by stating how much I had been willing to spend in the store, which will now go to another deserving shop.

It's possible the angry audio guy was just having a bad day, and if so, I'm sorry for making his day worse. But the thing is, most women I know in the business avoid Steve's because they don't feel comfortable there. If your store is trying to rid itself of a bad reputation, it would help not to have raging egos loose behind the sales desk. Be polite, be helpful, and don't be demeaning. It's not complicated.

Just sayin'.

(Disclaimer, the guy who took my complaint was seriously lovely. Also, I did purchase a banjo case at Steve's once without incident. The service was even friendly! So all is not lost... Just bruised.)

Next post: I come to terms with the fact that I will never like mainstream hipster fashion and embrace the comfort of the 90s.


Milan said...

Sorry to hear about the crappy experience. When Emily was selling computers, many customers assumed she was ignorant because she's a woman.

Shawna said...

"This guitar is an extension of my penis!!!"

karen said...

this really helpful as I am in teh market to rent a bass guitar and amp (going to start taking lessons).

do you have any idea where i might go for this service?


Stella said...

Meanie.... Just borrow mine! It's been borrowed by bloggers before... Might as well keep up the tradition. Drop me a line.

If you for sure want to rent, I would check out Long and McQuade.

But seriously, just use mine.

Claypots said...

Hello, I just discovered your blog. I'm a fellow musician in Ottawa and if its any consolation, I also hate Steve's. It's either the "smarmy know-it-all" or the "weekend-rockstar" who's too cool to help.

Anyway, enjoying the blog!


Christine Bougie said...

I, too, hate Steve's Music. I thought maybe it was just the Toronto store, but sexism seems to be a part of their modus operandi.

Stella said...

Derek: Welcome to the blog!

Christine: I've heard bad things about the Toronto store too. I think you're right... They've written sexism into their code of conduct.

Edward said...

Which software were you thinking of buying? I went over the edge and got Cubase 5 (for my pc) and Logic 9 for my mac....but I ended up liking Reaper the best. What good would mania and OCD be if you couldn't lay awake all night obsessing over the choices you've made and then blow even more cash on another thing!

I'm only a few years ahead of you in the house game. Buying a house in Toronto seemed we looked for that "fixer-up-er"...and yes we had to fix everything top to bottom ourselves including: New steel roof (I carried a freakin' piece of a chimmney tied to my back), decks, new hardwood floors, new appliances, fix all the plumbing (I paid someone else to rewire the house cause I wanted to live) as you know it's like going to heaven (your own little space in this world) and like some sort of unending hell of late nights with sawdust in your eyes thinking: If I can just make it till 2:00 am with the sander and still be good for work in the morning it'll all be good!

P.S. My recording "closet" is the front room of my house...not the best when your take gets ruined buy someone at the front door.

P.S.S. I also hate Steve's.



Stella said...

Hi Edward! I'm going with Pro Tools. I found Cubase to be a bit convoluted... You?

Your renos sound intense! Good call on hiring out the electrical.

My "sound closet" can be permeated by the sound of my bulldogs whining, so ya, there will be some funny outtakes for sure. :)