A few weeks ago, true to San Francisco Queer form, I went to the closing night of The Lexington Club (#LexForever). The Lexington served as more than a bar, or a neighborhood bar, it was a sense of home for queer people and allies. While it was a sad occasion to have the only queer bar in San Francisco close, it was celebrated with a party that overflowed into the streets. 

After the sweating through the crowds, a few friends and I walked over to Dr. Teeth & Electric Mayhem. While my friends bought drinks and conversed, a man approached me and began small talk. It started with the typical lines, "Are you from here?" "Do you come here often?" "What is there to do in the Mission?" He was obviously not from San Francisco and his accent hinted that English was not his native language. He told me how he and his coworkers decided to go on an outing after work and settled on Dr. Teeth & Electric Mayhem. After a while, I realized I knew his company and he knew mine. He was an engineer and asked what I did for Twilio. 

"I'm an engineer" 

"Yeah, right. Are you like a recruiter or HR or something?"

Sadly, this isn't the first time this has happened. 

"No, I'm an engineer. I work on the Infrastructure and Systems team. Cloud Operations"

"You're fucking with me" 

At this point, I had pulled my friends over and had to ask them to join the conversation. Of my group of friends, three were female engineers, one founder and one VC. He didn't believe any of us. 

I left the bar to get some air and he followed me outside. He apologized for offending me and explained that where he was from, there were no women engineers. He then proceeded to ask me to prove my engineering skills by asking me programming questions. Outside a bar. At 1am. 

One of my friends asked him to leave but he persisted. At this point, I had a few options. 

1) Get angry 

2) Leave 

3) Educate him

I chose the third option. I told him that he can ask me as many questions as he wanted, but I had nothing to prove to him. If he had been American or American born, this conversation would have gone differently, but I understood that there could have been a cultural difference. I told him that by asking me these things, he was directly offending me and I didn't appreciate it. I also informed him that I work with his company's HR departments on Diversity & Inclusion and I know for a fact that the company he worked for has female engineers. He apologized again and then left.

A few minutes later he returned and said, "I'm sorry I offended you, please don't write anything bad about my company, we are about to go public." And then he asked for my number.*

I'm writing this because these types of stories need to be shared. This is not an isolated incident and this is not something that happens to just me. I chose to try to educate him rather than let my anger consume the conversation. As you can see, it doesn't always take. 

* Obviously he didn't get my number. I did speak with his HR team (without mentioning him by name or any clear identifiers). After a shock and embarrassment, I recommended a few sources for unconscious bias and male ally trainings.