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Can You Be Bigoted Against Grammar?

, , , , , | Right | March 26, 2019

(I am a cashier at a large grocery store and I have been working there for more than a year. A customer walks up to my till and ignores my normal greetings of, “Hello! How are you? Did you find everything okay?” all done with the utmost cheer and smiles. He starts rattling off the phone number attached to his rewards card so I can look it up in the system. Being used to this kind of disregard by many customers, I enter the phone number. The last name of the cardholder pops up automatically on my display. It is policy to read the name back to the customer so we can ensure we heard the number correctly and that the discounts will be attributed to the proper account. So, I read back to the customer the name, “Steele.”)

Customer: “What?”

Me: “Steele? Are you Steele?”

Customer: “I didn’t steal anything! What do you mean? Are you calling me a thief?!”

Me: “No, sir! Of course not! I…”

Customer: “Check my pockets! I didn’t do anything!”

(This exchange is getting louder and more frenzied as the customer talks and I try to get a word in to assure him I did not think he stole anything.)

Me: “No, no! Your name is just a homophone…”


Me: *very taken aback and frightened as to his apparent misunderstanding and reaction* “Nothing!”

(I finished scanning his groceries in silence and gave him his receipt. I was called into the manager’s office later while a customer service manager watched — for “our mutual benefit” — as I was instructed on not saying anything the customer might deem as offensive, even if it’s a joke. Similar situations occurred multiple other times in the years following that I have continued to work there throughout college. I have met with the managers several other times regarding customers claiming I told them their house stunk after buying a literal cart load of broccoli — in all likelihood, it did after all that — intentionally not giving customers sale prices, and not counting $0.03 cents of change back to a customer.)

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