I Don’t Work Here, Does Not Work Here, Part 22

, | Right | October 4, 2016

(When I was twelve years old, I was about 5’2” or 5’3” – about 155 or 160 cm for you non-Americans. Not the tallest girl in my class, but taller than average for my age. One day, my mother takes me and my younger sister shopping. While she is in the fitting room with my sister, she tells me to wait just outside the door. Bored, and seeing that a display table of shirts is a stirred up mess, I start folding shirts.)

Customer: “Hey! I’m talking to you!”

(I realize a woman I’d heard and tuned out is looking at me.)

Me: “Me?”

Customer: “Yes, you! Where are your capris?”

Me: “Uh, I… I don’t…”

Customer: “Don’t give me that. I know you sell them! They’re in your flyer.”

Me: “I don’t know.”

(The woman steps into my personal space and raises her voice, berating me about a sale being advertised. I am frozen, wide-eyed, and speechless. A sales associate on the other side of the store starts toward us, but my mom comes out of the fitting room first.)

Mom: “You don’t talk to her like that!”

Customer: “She was being rude to me!”

Mom: “I don’t care! You don’t talk to her like that; you don’t need to talk to her at all!”

Employee: *finally arriving* “Ladies, how can I help you?”

Customer: “Are you the manager? This girl ignored me and then refused to help me!”

(I am wearing a girly-girl sundress, while the store uniform is a polo shirt and khaki pants.)

Employee: “She doesn’t work here, but I can help you.”

Customer: “But she WAS working!”

Mom: *catching on* “She’s twelve!

Customer: “Then WHY was she FOLDING SHIRTS?!”

Employee: “Just to be nice. Ma’am, what do you need? How can I help you?”

(The employee guided her away from us, while the customer threw a parting shot over her shoulder that I shouldn’t fold shirts if I didn’t work there.)

Mom: *loud enough for her to hear, and earning a dirty look* “Next time a strange adult yells at you, you run away from them and you find me.”

(Later, the employee came back and made a point of thanking me for being helpful – even though I later saw her refolding the shirts more neatly. And for a few years it was a running joke in my family to ask me WHY I was FOLDING the laundry.)

 

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