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    Suited To The Role

    | San Francisco, CA, USA | Awesome Workers, Bigotry, Top

    (I work the floor at an independently-owned menswear store. The owner, my boss, spends a lot of time at the shop, and tries to keep prices as low as possible to help our city’s large homeless population get good job interview clothes. A clearly homeless man is wandering around the store. The other patrons are giving him looks.)

    Customer: “Excuse me, sir?”

    Me: “Yes, ma’am?”

    Customer: “I think you may want to call security. That… bum over there, he keeps feeling the suits and muttering to himself. I’m just sure he’s planning to steal one.”

    Me: “Well, ma’am, I think that’s quite unlikely.”

    Customer: “Oh, come on, you know how they are! I mean, I’d keep an eye on him even if he wasn’t homeless!”

    (The homeless man in question happens to be Hispanic.)

    Me: “We don’t discriminate here, ma’am.”

    Customer: “Well, I’m sure the owner would want to hear about this!”

    (I give in and call him over. The customer explains her concerns. As a black man, my boss isn’t happy with her racism, but agrees to talk to the homeless man.)

    Owner: “Excuse me, sir, are you finding what you need?”

    Homeless Man: “Well, not really. I’m hoping for something versatile in a dark or navy wool, but most of the options in my size are cut American style instead of European, which fits me a little better. Not to mention they’re all pinstriped, which I really don’t have the build for, you know?”

    Owner: “I… yes, I understand. I think we may have some options over here, if you’ll follow me. How did you know all that?”

    Homeless Man: “Back before I lost my job, I used to be really into this stuff. I’m not looking for anything fancy, just something I can use to look good for a job interview later today.”

    (My boss helps him find something he likes, and comes to the counter with him. The suit is priced at $87.)

    Homeless Man: *digging in his pockets* “Hang on, I think I’ve got enough.”

    Owner: *to me* “Take my card. I’m buying it for him.” *to the homeless man* “Here. The suit’s yours, on one condition. After your interview today, you come back and apply for a job here too. Got it?”

    Homeless Man: “I… oh my God, thank you. Thank you so much.”

    (Two years later, that formerly-homeless man is my manager, and has a little girl with his new wife—the owner’s sister.)