Category: Bigotry

This category is dedicated to the bottom rung of humanity at its worst — racists, homophobes, and other bigots — and, occasionally, employees at their finest.

Caught With Her Pants Down

| OR, USA | Bigotry, Crazy Requests, School

(I manage a set of female residence halls at a small, private university.)

Me: “Hello, Ms. Smith? This is the residential coordinator for your daughter’s hall. I’m calling on behalf of my student staffer to find out what’s going on that you’re concerned about.”

Mom: “What?! Why the h*** you callin’ me? That’s stupid!”

Me: “Well, you contacted my student staff saying that you needed to talk to them immediately about your daughter. I told them I would call you back because there are a lot of legal issues surrounding parent communication that they are not necessarily up to date on. So, what’s the problem?”

Mom: “I hate this university. That is so stupid. Well, anyway, some stupid [Asian slur] stole my daughter’s pants from the laundry!”

Me: “I’m sorry, what? Tell me exactly what you know.”

Mom: “Well, she went down to move her laundry into the dryer, and someone already had done it! She was only an hour late! And there was some [Asian slur] girl doing her own laundry! She told my daughter that she didn’t move the laundry, that it was already moved when she got there, but she could hardly speak English, so she’s lying.”

(Note: We have five washers for 200 girls. You have to be on top of your laundry or someone will move it so they can do their own. 10 minutes is the grace period we encourage people to give others.)

Me: “Okay, well, I will talk to your daughter and get some more information, including who the other student was.”

Mom: “It was a [Asian slur]! I’m so disgusted with this University. We pay so much for it and it’s terrible.”

Me: “I’m going to have to ask you to stop saying that word. We have several students of Asian descent who live in the building, and I honestly cannot imagine any of them stealing laundry. I will talk to your daughter to get more information and hopefully find the pants. I hope one student’s potential actions don’t cloud your judgment of the university as a whole.”

Mom: “Well, I am going to go say very bad things about this University to everyone I know! You all should teach students how to handle laundry and how to be nice people! It’s your job!”

Me: “I will be sending a reminder email about laundry etiquette to the building, but all I can do is encourage good behavior. We also will document the situation with the pants, and try to find out what happened. I hope we find them. Is that all I can help you with?”

Mom: “Well, I’m very angry, and it’s stupid that you called, and that d*** [Asian slur] needs to be sent back to her own country!”

Me: “I’m sorry you feel that way, ma’am. Goodbye.”

(Five minutes later, the resident found her pants, in her room, in her laundry basket. She hadn’t looked for them before talking to her mother. I hate my job.)

I Don’t Work Here Is Lost In Translation

| Midlands, England, UK | Bad Behavior, Bigotry

(I work in a department store, but am not employed by that company so I can’t handle their furniture or answer questions about it either. To help customers realise there is a difference, I tend to wear coloured clothes as the host store staff can only wear black. I’m currently cleaning a selection of finishes and the customer beckons me over.)

Customer: “Thank god we found someone. Now, we want something that is full wood. Nothing veneered and nothing of this chipboard rubbish. Do you have any?”

Me: “My company doesn’t do full wood pieces, only veneers. If you find any of the ladies or gents in black who are in charge of [Host Store]’s stock, they’ll be able to help you. I’m a rep from a different company so I don’t know their stock.”

Customer: “No.” *starts to slow her speech down* “Do you have any full wood pieces?”

Me: “Like I said, I don’t, but if you find one of the ladies or gents in black they may have some.”

Customer: *slowing down to the pace you’d use to teach babies new words now* “Dooo yoooou haaaave aaaanny fuuuuull woooooood piiiiieeeces?”

Me: “No. As I’ve said, my company doesn’t but [Host Store] may do.”

Customer: “You really don’t understand what I’m saying and you sound foreign!”

Me: “Eigentlich bin ich aus Deutschland, aber ich war in England angehoben. Ich versichere Ihnen, ich verstehe dich, aber ich kann nicht sagen, das Gefühl.” *Actually I am from Germany, but I was raised in England. I assure you I understand you, but I can’t say the feeling is mutual*

(With that the customer stormed off and I saw her repeating the whole thing again to one of the Host Store people.)

The Land Of The Free From Thought

| USA | Bigotry, Geography

(I am the manager at a discount department store, and one of our regular customers is a little bit flaky. She often talks to herself, repeating herself over and over.)

Customer: “Where are you from? What country do you come from?”

Me: “I was born in Colorado.”

Customer: “You need to go back to your country at once. America is for Americans.”

Me: “Colorado IS in America.

Customer: “You must go back! You must go back! You must go back!”

(She continues this ad nauseam until she finally leaves. A few weeks later she returns and purchases some items. Her total is $7.60 or so, and one of the coins she hands me is a Canadian quarter. I calmly inspect said quarter, and hand it back.)

Me: “I can’t accept this coin. Here in America, we only accept AMERICAN currency. If you want to spend the Canadian currency, perhaps you should, you know, go back to Canada to do so.”

(I haven’t had a problem with her since.)

Anti-Bigotry Bigotry

| Myrtle Beach, SC, USA | Bigotry, Family & Kids

(I am a male host at my father’s restaurant. My very flamboyant boyfriend has come to pick me up at the end of my shift.  I need to seat the customers first, so I asked him to step out of line.)

Customer: “How dare you!”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Customer: “That boy wants to eat in this restaurant, and you’re refusing him service because he’s gay?! Let me speak to your boss!”

(I go and fetch my dad, who’s having a hard time keeping the smile off his face.)

Dad: “What seems to be the problem?”

Customer: “That host is a homophobe! He asked that gay boy to move so he could seat the rest of us! I demand that you fire him!”

Dad: “First of all, that’s my son, and—”

Customer: “I guess you’re homophobic, too, then.  Huh? Did you teach him that homosexuality is wrong and disgusting?”

(She continues shouting abuse for a few minutes. My dad patiently waits until she was done talking.)

Dad: “Second of all, the gay boy he supposedly refused service to is his boyfriend, who is here to pick my son up for their date.”

Customer: “Oh, uh…”

(She politely apologized to all three of us, and told my boyfriend and me to have fun on our date. Moral of the story: Don’t assume that everything you see is a hate crime!)

Keeping Borders Secure And Identity Insecure

| CO, USA | At The Checkout, Bigotry, Extra Stupid, Top

(I am waiting in line, the next to be up, when I hear this a customer start shouting about how she refuses to show ‘some Mexican’ her ID in order to purchase something.)

Customer: “I don’t know where you get off asking to see MY ID! I don’t ask to see your green card!”

Employee: “Your credit card doesn’t have a signature on it, so I have to get an ID or I can’t let you use it.”

Customer: “This is so rude! I cannot believe you people are even allowed to ask for it, for ANY REASON!”

(Having had enough, and just wanting to buy my videogame, I start walking towards the customer.)

Me: “Ma’am, what’s the problem here?!”

Customer: “This illegal wants to see my ID!”

Me: “She’s obviously not illegal, but if you don’t want her to see your ID, then maybe you can just let me see both cards and I’ll verify it to her?”

Customer: “That’s fine. A nice American boy doing the right thing. Thank you.”

(The clerk hands me the credit card, and the woman hands me her ID. I look at them and nod to the clerk. I don’t hand the lady back her ID, though.)

Me: “So… your name’s [Name].”

Customer: “Yes, that’s right.”

Me: “You live at [Address]?”

Customer: “That’s what the ID says.”

Me: “Do you know my name?”

Customer: “Uh, huh? No, I don’t. Of course not. Don’t be silly. We just met.”

Me: “Do you know my address?”

Customer: “Well, obviously I wouldn’t. What’s your point?”

Me: “[Full Name] who lives at [Address], why would you give me your ID without knowing who I am, what I want, or what I would do with it? I know who you are and where you live now.”

(The customer just stares at me, speechless as I hand her back the card and the clerk gives her the items she came in to buy.)

Me: “Oh, and by the way – I’m Italian, so think about how badly you just screwed up as you walk back to your car. I’m not saying I would change my locks. I’m just saying I’d be smarter about things!”

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