I couldn’t get past the reservation screen unless I entered my “title.” Not my professional title, but my status/gender title. I was booking a hotel room on-line and the page was insisting on knowing whether I preferred to be addressed as Ms., Mrs., or Mr. There wasn’t an option for “none of your business” and there was no way to get past the screen without choosing one.
I’d just filled out tons of personal information — my mailing address, my credit card number, my bed size preference (king, even if Jeff isn’t traveling with me — I need thrashing space). Was it because my name, Gwen, could be either male or female? Or do they also refuse passage to Elizabeth and John Paul?
I found it amusing. Will it help them when I arrive to check in? Surely they have more confidence in their front desk than that. Or maybe they don’t want their staff to make an on-the-spot decision about whether I am female or male. Remember Pat from Saturday Night Live? Did we ever discern if Pat was a guy or girl?
These days, we can’t assume jack (or is it jill?), especially when it comes to names — of people, of politics, of dishes — anything really. I just ran across a dish with a name that has nothing to do with the dish. And chefs, like celebrities, are taking liberties. Gwyneth named her daughter Apple. Chefs are calling things crudo (raw fish) that are not raw and/or not fish. Everything is fair game.
So really, it’s no wonder that this hotel needs to know my gender and my preferred salutation. They want to make sure they get it right.