So I've been stewing on this for awhile, and I just thought it was about time I got it out there. On a recent trip interstate, I was left fuming after an experience in a LFS. Maybe it's because I'm female, maybe it's because my mum expressed interest and accompanied me to the store? I'm in my mid 30's, so I don't think the attitude I copped was age related, but I'd be interested in your thoughts. I've been fishkeeping and shrimpkeeping in a serious way for about 5 years now. I work in the animal industry and I have some university level training in aquaculture... I'm not a newbie.
Warning: this is a rant - expect to do some reading!!
THE BACKGROUND :
I wanted to buy some 17mm lily pipes for a 2ft tank. I had considered buying online, but since I was interstate and wanting to look at the local shops, I thought paying a little more in store, not having to wait a week for shipping and supporting a local business would be a good thing to do.
I had already got smaller CADE lily pipes on a nano tank, and I like not only the look, but also the whirlpool created by the outflow which removes surface scum, so was interested in getting some for my larger display tank.
So my mum and I enter the store and spend some time looking at the displays for a bit (they were beautiful), and I noted there were lily pipes with a ball style outflow on the tanks. I spent a little while talking to my mum and answering her questions about fish keeping. After some time my mother and I were approached by an older (mid 40s) gentleman who I believe was the store owner. He asked if I needed any help.
I asked if he had 17mm lily pipes in stock. He wasn't sure so he checked. They didn't have any. I said that was fine, and I'd check back in at a later stage.
He then commented he had some on a tank upstairs, and that if I was to buy any I would definitely want brand X because it was great (not a brand I recognised but it wasn't CADE). I responded that I had seen the pipes - and the ball shaped outflow was different to the ones I was familiar with. I then asked if the ball shaped outflow still created a whirlpool effect at the surface of the tank in the same way the bell shaped outflows do.
He put his head on one side and asked "What do you mean 'whirlpool?'".
I said, "You know, a whirlpool that agitates the water surface, sucking down the surface layer".
He stared at me, and says with a long pause and repeats in an amused and questioning tone with an eyebrow raised: "Whirlpool?"
I'm lost at this point.. I didn't think I'd need to explain "whirlpool" in detail (he spoke perfect English). In any case - I try again: "You know, a funnel of water that swirls around and sucks down the surface layer?"
He leans back and smirks at me. "Oh, I seeeee - you mean a VORTEX". He then looks at my mum standing next to me and says in a patronising tone with a little laugh "I think the INTERNET is at work here".
My mum was faintly taken aback, looked at me and didn't say anything.
At this point I decided against discussing the semantics of "vortex" vs "whirlpool" as a description, and choose to keep the attention on the topic. "What do you mean the internet is at play here? Does the ball shaped outflow not create a vortex?" (I've switched to "vortex", even though it's pretty clear he knew what "whirlpool" meant all along).
So this guy then turns back to me and proceeds to give a little speech about how lily pipes don't create a VORTEX, and it's a common misconception, and they won't help surface scum. He stands a little too close as he talks, (he is taller than me so is looking down) and speaks in the way adults sometimes speak to children if they aren't very bright.
At this point, I'm just confused. This guy is the store owner, and has nice display tanks with lily pipes, surely he has some idea of what he is talking about? Why is he being so obtuse and hostile? I manage to utter, "But.... I have lily pipes on another tank and they do".
He then completely goes back on everything he just lectured me on and says "Well, they can when the water is a certain level, but it's hard to achieve, and as soon as you get evaporation and the water level drops the vortex stops, so it doesn't work, you would have to adjust it every hour. If you want to remove the surface layer you need a skimmer"
Note: this wasn't a clever way of trying to then get me to buy a skimmer, because the conversation just sort of petered out after that. I ended with a "Okay, no worries, thanks for your help." He smirks and wanders off.
Annoyingly enough, he didn't answer my original question, he behaved like a condescending jackass, and I'll never shop in that store again. Note it was not a busy day - there was no other people in the store.
His information about water level being important for the creation of a whirlpool with a lily pipe is true, but it's not a giant hassle to achieve, and it's easy to top up a 2ft tank with a little water on a daily basis, the vortex lasts for more than an hour = in my tank its nearly 24 hours. I just can't work out what his problem was - why the hell didn't he just say that in the first place? Why the lie about 'vortex creation' not being true at all, and make a snide comment to my mother? Why try and make me seem like I was stupid?
I later related the story to my husband about this and he thinks the guy has an issue with women.
I'm used to going into Brisbane LFS with my husband and having the male staff ignore me and look at him, and ask what he is after. It's a common misconception, lots of guys keep fish (just not my husband) I'm never offended, and it is an easily corrected mistake and staff are always polite and helpful, and the places where I'm a frequent customer it's not an issue. Guess I'm shocked that this guy thought despite the difficult nature of owning a bricks and mortar store he could behave like a jerk.
I'd be interested to know if any of the males out there get this kind of reception in stores or have had similar issues? Or was I specifically targeted and treated like I was stupid because I am female? Do your wives/girlfriends deal with this stuff in the hobby? Or is it just a case of bad luck and this person being run-of-the-mill jerk?