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Nothing Subtle About This One

, , , , | Working | December 2, 2021

This story takes place during the end of my tenure with a game store chain, after I’ve settled into a familiar groove of thirteen- to fifteen-hour shifts, six days a week — also known as “absentee coworker syndrome”. I’ve also gotten a chance to get to know all the regular customers.

One of my regulars is in the store checking on the stock of our Nintendo Wii units, wanting to know when we’ll get more, etc. The guy easily drops $300 a week in my store and has two adorable, well-behaved kids, so we’re on fantastic terms.

Unfortunately, our district manager is visiting our store and brought her friend [District Manager #2] with her for advice on how to run our store.

It’s worth noting one more fact. I am the sole white employee at this store. The neighborhood in question is predominantly filled with those of darker complexion than myself (African, Latino, etc). Both of the district managers in my store are, you guessed it, whiter than new-fallen snow.

I’m chatting up my regular when I get pulled over by the district managers to a corner out of earshot, where the following exchange takes place.

District Manager #1: “What the h*** do you think you’re doing?!”

Me: “Um, my job? What do you mean? Did I do something wrong? He already has the Premium Membership card…”

District Manager #2: “Not that. Why’d you tell him when you’re getting more Wii consoles?”

Me: “Because he asked? I don’t get it.”

District Manager #1: “We don’t give that information out to people like that!”

District Manager #2: “Exactly. When you give them that kind of information, you either get robbed or you get more of them. That’s not the image we’re trying to cultivate here.”

District Manager #1: “Yeah, we’re trying to bring in more… profitable clientele.”

Me: “I don’t… I don’t understand. What do you mean, ‘them’?”

District Manager #1 & #2: *In unison* “Blacks.”

District Manager #2: “We want bleach-white soccer moms, not a bunch of sooty street rats.”

My eyes must’ve popped out of their sockets in horror at what they just said, because my district manager immediately begins trying to backpedal.

District Manager #1: “What he means is that middle-class people tend to spend more money.”

The incredibly racist conversation continued for a few minutes before I promptly excused myself back to my store and helped my customers. Still, that little bit pretty much eroded any respect I had for Senior Management. 

Luckily, the parent company — which controlled two video chains and my game chain — went belly-up a month later, and both district managers lost their jobs overnight.

Me? I went on to a data center internship that paid more and was a ton of fun.

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