This Season Brings Out All The Schmucks

, , , , , | Right | December 26, 2017

(I’m working at a small public library around the holidays, and while shelving books one day, I notice a man, his wife, and their two small children enter the library. The dad and mom are both wearing shirts with Hebrew script on them, and as a Jewish person who also studied Hebrew in college, I am able to mentally translate the words on their shirts from Hebrew into English: “Daddy” and “Mommy,” respectively. As they near the shelf where I’m working, I smile at the father.)

Me: “Excuse me, sir. I like your shirt!”

Dad: “Oh! Thanks! It means ‘dad’ in Hebrew!”

Me: “I thought so. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone in the U.S. wearing clothing with Hebrew text on it before. That’s really cool.”

Dad: “I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who could READ Hebrew text before!”

(He smiles and returns to his family as I resume shelving books. A few minutes later, I see that the family is preparing to leave the library, and cheerfully wish them a happy Hanukkah as they pass. The parents abruptly stop and the father turns to look at me.)

Dad: “What did you say?”

Me: “Happy Hanukkah, sir.”

Dad: “Happy HANUKKAH?”

Me: *realizing that I’ve made an admittedly unfair assumption and that, based on his reaction, it was the wrong one to make* “Oh, I’m sorry. I just assumed-”

Dad: “What? You thought we were Jews or something?”

Me: “I thought, because of the Hebrew…”

Dad: *visibly irate* “Yeah, you thought I was a Jew. Do I LOOK like a Jew to you?”

Me: “Well, I—”

Dad: “We are a good CHRISTIAN family, thanks. We aren’t sinners. What, you think CHRISTIANS can’t speak Hebrew?”

Me: *with genuine remorse, kicking myself internally* “Of course, sir, I’m sorry. That was a dumb thing to assume. You’re right. Anybody can speak Hebrew.”

Dad: “You’re god-d*** right anybody can speak Hebrew, ESPECIALLY Christians! It was OUR language first!”

Me: “…”

Dad: “I think I’ll need to speak to your supervisor.”

(I go to fetch the branch manager, still kicking myself all the way.)

Manager: “Is there something I can help you with, sir?”

Dad: “Yes! This employee insinuated that I was a Jew!”

Manager: *taken aback* “She did what?”

Dad: “She called me a Jew!”

Me: *as my manager turns to question me* “I wished them Happy Hanukkah because I noticed the Hebrew lettering on their shirts. I apologized. It was a genuine mistake.”

Dad: “Oh, that’s not good enough! We’re GOOD CHRISTIANS. We don’t deserve to be treated like…”

Me: “…Jews?”

Dad: “Yes!” *to my manager* “What are you going to do about this?”

Manager: “Well, sir, I think—”

Dad: “Erase our library fines.”

Manager: “Excuse me?”

Dad: “Our library fines. Erase them. It’s the least you can do.”

Manager: “I can’t do that, sir. I’m sorry. My employee has apologized and I guarantee that she and I will have a conversation about this later. I’m deeply sorry that she offended you, but there’s nothing more I can do for you.”

(After some huffing and puffing, he goes back down about the fines, but lingers near the front doors for a while, finally turning to glare at me.)

Dad: “Well?”

Me: “I’m sorry…?”

Dad: “Aren’t you going to wish us a MERRY CHRISTMAS? That’s what the season is actually for, you know. It’s CHRIST-mas, none of this Hanukkah bull-s***, and not ‘Happy Holidays,’ either, but CHRIST-mas!”

Me: “…Merry Christmas, sir.”

(He grinned smugly and stormed out of the library with his family in tow.)

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