Racism. Status: Still alive and kicking in the Midwest

7

I've worked at Borders for about a year and a half now, and before that I worked at Old Navy for two and a half years. In that time I've faced many, many bitchy customers. It's just something that comes with the territory of working in customer service. I typically just throw on my best "F*ck You!" smile, call up a manager, and go about my (un)happy way. My friends call me Teflon Master because they say nothing sticks to me but tonight something finally did and I'm not proud in saying it, but tonight I cried at work, for the first time at any job I've had. And not like pretty movie star tears, either as Meg Cabot would say. There was snot involved.

I've been scowled at, nose turned up to, outright ignored a few times but never has anyone called me the n-word. I grew up around people who just didn't do that, you know. So honestly, when I was having trouble locating a book (and a children's book at that! I really feel sorry for her kids...) for a customer today and heard her mumble it under her breath, I was stunned to the point of disbelief. I just stared at her as she stomped away claiming she would "find someone who could really help her."

I tried to shake it off, blame it on something, I hadn't cleaned out my ears today so maybe I hadn't heard her right or she was referring to the country in Africa that is sometimes mispronounced. I didn't WANT to believe that someone would seriously say that and I didn't want to seem like I was playing the race card.

She went up to the registers and continued to complain to the guy working the register. After she'd left (which thank sweet Jesus was shortly there after) I went up to talk and you know, complain about what a complete biatch she had been in normal "lets talk about our crazy customers behind their backs" fashion but the guy looked almost livid when he looked back at me. He said that she had been racial slurs and he had wanted to punch her in the face.

It wasn't until after we'd closed and I told my manager what had happened that the water works began. My manager was just as angry as I was and asked why I hadn't told her before and I said I hadn't wanted to make a scene. She and my store's GM said that if I ever saw her again to let them know and they would kindly escort her out and tell her to never darken our giant vestibule again but I couldn't help but wonder why I hadn't told them when it happened. Then I realized that I didn't want to offend her! Which had made the water works start again.

Luckily I have amazing managers at the store who were very kind and supportive and had ample tissues (Kleenex really are best!). I've heard that word hundreds of times, squirmed uncomfortably in class while we were reading Mark Twain, and seen hundreds of movies with the word being thrown around like confetti but I've never realized how truly hurtful one word can be. And not just to black people but all minorities, be that in race, age, sex, sexuality, or religion. That one word promotes hate and ignorance towards all people and it's just not right! And it's my right not to be called that! If I'm a sucky sales person, say I'm a sucky sales person.
Leave the racism out of it because my being white wouldn't have made the book magically appear!

Sadly I know that there are always going to be people out there like my crazy Bitch Lady customer. Barack Obama being elected prez didn't wave a magic racism flag over the country to make it all go away, if anything it just made those people in our country that much more aggressive but there are good people out there too and I'm going to pray for crazy Bitch Lady and focus on the positive people in my life. I've also decided that I'm going to get a back bone about these things (wonder if they have those at Wal-mart...) because by not standing up for my rights I was just proving that what she said was okay, and while I don't know what Bitch Lady had been through, I do know that what she said is absolutely anything but okay.

Casey

7 comments:

  1. That's crazy and seriously made me angry. Sad and shocked at the same time.
    I'm really sorry wish I was there to kick her out, on top of all things I hate , this wins.

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  2. Wow. That was an emotional read! It is really really sad that this kind of behaviour still exists anno 2009. However, just try to shake it off and move on, as you said you talked about it with your managers and everybody understands how upset you got. Just remember, don't let it take hold of you for too long, because most probably that ignorant bitch who said it already forgot what she said to whom.

    She doesn't deserve the pleasure of hurting you and therefore you need to shake it off and move on full with pride and next time she enters the shop, you know what to do..... let your colleagues escort her out of the shop.

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  3. Some people need to be kicked in the face. I'd be happy to do the kicking.

    I'm sorry that someone would say that to you.

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  4. hey kc, God bless you, you are one of the best people on this earth and I am proud to know you, (((hugs))) wish I had been there to witness a good christian in action, way to go, but, on the other hand, wish I had been there to let my Cherokee/Irish sides loose on that freak! Sneak up on her and get ALL up in her business! Your mother raised you well! Good job mom!

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  5. hey kc, that was jen's mom by the way...lol..anonymous not!

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  6. Oh wow.... I gasped out loud when I read that. I'm so sorry that happened to you! And also in your defense, you were probably stunned. I wouldn't know how to react right away to something like that either. Although if you're anything like me, you probably thought of a million and one things you could have told her after the fact.

    People like that are ignorant, judgmental, and not worth dwelling on. At the end of the day, they're stuck with a twisted view of humanity that keeps them from getting to know amazing people with different perspectives. It's her loss for sure.

    But no one should ever be spoken to like that, and my heart just breaks when I hear of it happening in our day and age.

    You never know though...one day she might randomly find your blog, not know it's you, and feel the sting of her own words read back to her on the screen. And if not, what goes around still comes around!

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  7. That's so depressing!

    Yes, I remember during election season when one of my friends (hardcore McCain supporter; we had some pretty...uh...interesting political fights at that time) told me racism didn't exist in the US any more. And I was just dumbstruck. I mean, I'm a minority, and I've experienced racial slurs, so for her to say that and actually believe it hurt a lot. It hurt even worse coming from a friend. She apologized, but still thought she was right.

    I don't know why people still feel the need to degrade others purely on the basis of race. It's sad, it's lame, it's infuriating, and I hope one day my kids don't have to deal with it.

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