An Open Letter to the Renaissance Hotel Valet

This past weekend my wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary at the Renaissance hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. My wife, Samantha, was driving and as she was turning our vehicle over to the valet an exchange took place that I was not privy to and thus must unfortunately register my opinion here and after the fact.

As Samantha was gathering her things the valet commented on the shortness of her skirt and asked that she alert him as to when she was getting out so that he might turn his back and thus not risk any “exposure” on her part.

What follows is what I’d like to impart to this young man in terms of heartfelt wisdom born from many years of experience both in being a man and in dealing with women.

Dear Dumbass,

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here. I’m going to assume that your intentions were noble and that you thought you were doing the honorable thing by protecting both my wife’s honor and her dignity.

The alternative assumption is that you fully intended to be insulting and in that case I feel compelled to take a more aggressive stance. Trust me, it’s not something you’ll like as it involves violating certain ethical ideals I hold about larger, stronger entities exerting force on smaller, weaker entities. Since we’re talking about the woman I love you can see how easily I might lose sight of reasoned arguments in favor of ethical behavior and resort to more impassioned tactics that are much more direct in their expression.

Because, in fact, you did insult my wife.

As a valet and a service provider, who will frequently come in contact with many women of various hem lengths — hell, as a human being — you need to realize there are very few times in which it is appropriate for you to voice your comments on another’s dress or appearance. I’m not saying you can’t have an opinion, I’m just telling you to keep it to yourself.

My wife was well aware of the length of her skirt when she put it on. As such she’s more than aware of the potential for exposure and fully capable of taking precautions to make sure things like that don’t happen. Furthermore the focus of your gaze should be in making appropriate eye contact. Anything more than that and we’re back to impassioned reasoning.

See, I know you think you’re being helpful. But what your comment actually said was, “You shouldn’t be wearing that. And since you didn’t realize that I’m going to take steps for both of us to protect us from the consequences of your poor decision.” It’s not an uncommon form of arrogance expressed by boys and those men ill acquainted with women and if you don’t find a way to divest yourself of it will ensure you continue to remain so.

What you should have said was, “Welcome to Renaissance. May I help you?” You should have maintained friendly eye contact and stood ready to offer assistance if necessary. And if the gods of good fortune had seen fit to grace you with unintentional flash, take it like a man. Enjoy the view of chance, but in such a manner that no even knows you saw. It’s called discretion and it’s a sign of maturity.

Let’s hope you find it before another less even tempered woman or her husband comes your way again.

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