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    Picture Perfect Racism

    | Thunder Bay, ON, Canada | Bad Behavior, Bigotry

    (To generate more sales, we offer the customers a deal where, if they purchase $50 worth of extra sheets, they can purchase a full session CD for $89.99, which is regularly $250. The customer I am working with is First Nations, as I live in a community with a large Native population.)

    Me: “So with this coupon, if you spend over $50 in extra merchandise, you can upgrade your CD for $89.99 if you’d like!”

    Customer: “Not interested.”

    Me: “Okay, not a problem. We’ll continue looking through your photos.”

    (This goes on for some time while the customer’s two children, aged four and six, run around the studio lobby screaming and knocking things over. The customer finally puts the four-year-old girl in the uncomfortable looking mall stroller, where she promptly begins to scream in my ear. I continue with the sale.)

    Me: “In this shot I felt like the kids were very posed, it has nice smiles from both of them though.”

    Customer: “It’s ugh… Ugh! They’re all ugly! Why didn’t you take pictures of my kids like that! *gestures to stock photos on the wall of a little girl dancing around*

    Me: “Generally the sessions that these types of pictures come from are sessions that start in the morning and last all day with corporate level photographers.”

    Customer: “Whatever…”

    (The little girl next to me is still screaming as her brother is banging away on the other computer’s keyboard. I pause so that the mother could intervene with the noise and turn slightly towards the girl to indicate why I’ve stopped. As I turn I see that the girl has raised her skirt, showing clearly soiled underwear that are the cause of her distress.)

    Customer: “Hey! Don’t you f****** look at her! You f****** pervert!”

    Me: “Sorry. I thought you might want to calm her down.”

    Customer: “She’s my f****** daughter; I’ll do what I want! Don’t tell me how to raise my f****** kids, you white devil b****!”

    Me: “I wasn’t trying to say—”

    Customer: “I’M the customer. You pay attention to ME! GOT IT?!”

    (Gritting my teeth, I continue with the sale. When she starts to order sheets, I realize she’s going to be buying almost $50 worth.)

    Me: “If you buy one more sheet you’re over the $50 mark and you qualify for our CD deal! $89.99 for the full session, a savings of $170!”

    Customer: “I’m. Not. Interested.”

    Me: “Okay, I just wanted to make sure you didn’t want to take advantage of this awesome deal.”

    Customer: “Seriously! Give it up! You just want more of my f****** money! You think I’m stupid, b****? ‘Cause I’m not!” *mumbles under her breath* “Stupid f****** white girl.”

    (Finally the sale is coming to a close, and as I go to get up and go to the till, the customer stands up, and turns around.)

    Customer: “So, I get all those images on the CD for free, right? Because I bought more than $50 with that coupon?”

    Me: “No. I said you could get them for $89.99, which you refused three three times.”

    Customer: “LIAR! You f****** lying white racist b****! You just don’t want to give me the free stuff because I’m Native! RACIST! RACIST!” *pointing at me as she yells*

    (All the commotion has attracted the attention of the photographer in the back room, who comes out to see what the matter is.)

    Photographer: “What’s going—”

    Customer: “This f****** white girl is trying to rip me off because she’s racist!”

    Photographer: *looks at me and then back at the customer* “I somehow doubt that, but let me see if I can find you a better deal.” *gets out paper, pencil and a calculator*

    (After a few minutes the photographer concedes defeat.)

    Photographer: “The deal you’re being offered is the best deal we can offer you, so unless you want to take that deal, you won’t be getting the full CD.”

    Customer: “You’re a f****** racist, too! You’re all f****** RACISTS!”

    Photographer: “You do realize that by assuming she’s racist because she’s white, and calling her various names pertaining to the colour of her skin, YOU are in fact being the racist?”

    Customer: “Nice try! Only white people can be racist! Like the two of you!”

    Photographer: “… I’m just going to let you know that my father is African Canadian, so by all accounts, I’m not ‘white.’ That’s just the colour my skin leads more towards.”

    Customer: “Oh, um… I didn’t…”

    (Wordlessly I walk up to the till so that the customer can pay for her photos before she leaves.)

    Me: “Okay, have a nice day!”

    Customer: “F*** you, you racist s***! Just because she’s black doesn’t mean you can treat me like s***!”

    (The customer finally leaves. When she returned to pick up her photos she acted like nothing happened. Three years later, we still tell the story about her and her crazy attitude when we all need a laugh.)