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    R-Word Is R-Rated

    | Los Angeles, CA, USA | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior, Bigotry

    (My coworker also happens to be my very best friend. He is severely disfigured, but sweet and very talented at carving. However, because of his appearance, our manager keeps him working in the back room most of the time. One day our manager is out sick and has left me in charge. My best friend comes out of the back room to bring me some inventory. A customer sees him.)

    Customer: “Oh, dear!” *to me* “Bless you, dear.”

    Me: “Um, thank you?”

    Customer: “For hiring someone like that poor boy!”

    (She is speaking as though my friend isn’t standing right beside me. He looks hurt, and I try to hurry the customer along.)

    Me: “Is there anything else I can help you with, ma’am?”

    Customer: “People like you really are a blessing, dear. Even the retarded need jobs in this country. I would never employ one, but I certainly respect those who do.”

    Me: “Um, ma’am, could you please not say that word?”

    Customer: “What, retarded? But it’s what he is.”

    Me: “No, he isn’t. I’m going to have to ask you to leave, please.”

    Customer: “But look at him! He’s obviously retarded, dear. You don’t have to lie. He can’t understand you.”

    (At this point, I am very angry and my friend looks near tears.)

    Me: “Ma’am, he is not mentally impaired, and he understands every word that we’re exchanging. It’s not difficult to grasp that you’re an enormous bigot, either. Please leave the store.”

    (The customer starts to leave in a huff, but pauses to admire some hand-carved birds at the front of the store.)

    Me: “By the way, he made those.”

    (The customer glares at me and storms out.)