It’s A Big Country

, , , , , | Right | September 15, 2020

I work for a well-known dollar store. I am a cashier and can’t process returns without a manager’s help. I’m heavily into screamo, death metal, dubstep, and the like, but I look mousy and unassuming, with glasses and a bun. A black man, whom I have never seen before, comes in with a CD.

Customer: “I’d like to return this.”

He sets down an oldies country CD with Dwight Yoakam on it.

Customer: “I grabbed the wrong one.”

Knowing my manager is very busy, I decide to try to do an even exchange, since all of our CDs have the same barcode.

Me: “Well, sir, what CD did you mean to get?”

Customer: “This is your people’s music!”

Me: “Uh, what?”

Customer: “You know. White people. I’m black. I grabbed the wrong CD. It’s very misleading.”

I look at the cover.

Me: “Considering this has nothing but ‘my people’ on it, plus it says, ‘Country Music Legends,’ on it, and it is the only country music CD on the rack next to all of these African American artists, I find that hard to believe.”

Customer: “Just get your manager, girl!”

I shrug and go get her. She asks for a description of the customer, peeks over a shelf, and sighs.

Manager: “That man came in last night and bought that CD. I asked him three times if he really wanted that CD, and he told me to not be racist.”

Me: “He just told me that because I’m white, it’s my type of music.”

Manager: “He’s done this too many times. I think he’s burning the CDs and then returning them for the money.”

He eventually slipped up and admitted that’s exactly what he was doing. He was banned from the store.

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This Is As Awkward As Mayonnaise On White Bread

, , , , , | Working | September 15, 2020

In the mid-1990s, “diversity” became an important buzzword in our company. As used by human resources, it meant that having persons of varying backgrounds, genders, and ethnicities together lead to better solutions in groupthink situations. The team I supervised, however, almost never made group decisions. Instead, we all acted as individual contractors, working alone on technical problems for clients. Diversity to me meant hiring the person who had the best demonstrated technical abilities and being sensitive to cultural differences when interacting with them one on one. It did not mean going out of my way to ensure that we all looked different.

As a supervisor, I had to attend a Diversity class. The problem was that getting the instructors to define the word was like nailing jello to a wall; it kept changing all the time. After repeatedly telling us that Diversity was more than counting noses and that it was deeper than that, I gave them an example. In a previous job, I had been in a small group with two other workers. One of us was a Catholic from mid-America suburbia, one was a Jew from a large rust belt city, and one was a Protestant from a small town in rural New England. I called this group diverse by their definition, but suddenly, things changed and the fact of our all being white males trumped the rest.

The fun part came when we were asked to describe what made us diverse individually. We were in the central valley in California, so there were a lot of stories about Latino immigration, working on farms, and the like. Then, it was my turn.

I am a glow-in-the-dark straight white male WASP. My father’s family traces back to the Mayflower — at least nine lineal ancestors on the boat — and other migrations from England and Scotland in the 1600s and 1700s. I was raised in an upper-middle-class household and went to exclusive private schools for high school and college. I went over this in detail. 

Surprisingly, that wasn’t what they were looking for.

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Needs To Disable The Bigotry

, , , , , , | Working | September 11, 2020

I’m visiting a friend on campus, and we decide to go down to a cafeteria nearby for dinner. I expect to pay for myself, as I’m a visitor. I’m in a wheelchair, though I’m still very capable of taking care of myself. When we go through the entry line, instead of asking for payment, the cashier at the door just waves us in. My friend and I go in, giving each other confused looks.

Friend: “Huh. That’s a first.”

Me: “Maybe he thought I had a student ID out?”

Friend: “Maybe. Oh, well, free food!”

We get our food and start eating. My friend gets up to get more food, and the cashier comes over, apparently having swapped to the floor.

Cashier: “I can take your plate for you!”

He says this a little slowly, but I don’t think anything of it.

Me: “Oh, thank you!”

Cashier: “Where is your worker? She shouldn’t leave you alone here!”

Me: “My… worker?”

Cashier: “Yeah, your assistance worker!”

Me: “I don’t have one. That’s my friend.”

Cashier: “Okay, where did your friend go?”

He obviously exaggerates the word “friend,” as if mocking me.

Me: “She’s doing something somewhere else, as she’s allowed to do, as she is not in any way a caretaker for me or anybody else.”

My friend comes over and sets her plate down.

Friend: “Can I help you?”

Cashier: “Oh, good, you’re back. Your client is starting to get upset.”

Friend: *Pause* “She’s a friend. Who’s very capable of taking care of herself.”

Cashier: “They like to think that, huh?”

Friend: “I’d like to think you can grab your supervisor. Now.”

The cashier laughs and walks off. My friend then goes up to someone else wiping down a table, who does get a manager. The manager comes over.

Manager: “Can I help you?”

Me: “Yeah, one of your employees has been implying that because I’m disabled, I need a carer.”

Manager: “Well, I’m sure there’s an explanation—”

Me: “He refused to listen to me as a functional adult which, even if I did need a carer, is not appropriate. I do not need to be talked down to or told I can’t take care of myself.”

Manager: “I… I see. I’ll have a talk with him.”

I went back to visit my friend a couple of weeks later, and she had found out that the cashier had been fired. He apparently assumed that anyone with any visible disability needed or had a carer.

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It’s Best Not To Irritate The Demons

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 11, 2020

I’m a former professional costumer and I still love sewing and building props. My boyfriend and I met at a convention, and as you might imagine, we cosplay together at every opportunity. While I love making costumes, I don’t like wearing anything too complicated or heavy; I prefer lightweight and flattering. My boyfriend, on the other hand, loves elaborate costumes; the bigger and more impressive, the better. This suits us both beautifully; he buys the materials, I make both costumes, he’s my model, and I’m his handler since most of the masks tend to limit visibility.

At a recent convention, he is dressed as a many-eyed demon — a costume I am particularly proud of — and I am in a fairly simple kimono as a character from the same series. We’ve been getting compliments all day. Then, a guy stops us to get a better look.

Guy: “Dude, great costume!”

Boyfriend & Me: “Thanks!”

At this, the guy turns nasty and wheels around to glare at me.

Guy: “I wasn’t talking to you! What, did you thrift that outfit yourself?”

Boyfriend: “Dude… she’s the one who made this.”

Guy: “Big deal. You’re the one wearing it! Chicks are supposed to do s*** for their men, anyway.”

My boyfriend is a fairly big guy to begin with; with the costume’s mask and horns, he comes in at just about nine feet tall, and upon hearing this, he uses that to his advantage and LOOMS.

Boyfriend: “You need to leave, or I just might decide to harvest a few more human parts.”

The guy splutters and stomps off. A nearby demon slayer from a different series, who’s been watching the whole thing, grinned.

Slayer: “You both look great. Usually, I slay monsters, but in this case, I think the demon gets a pass. You want to hunt that guy, I won’t tell.”

Me: “Yep! He’s my favorite demon. He protects me from all the dangerous humans.”

Both of them had a good laugh at that, and when a few other people wandered over, the slayer wound up joining us in an ad hoc photoshoot.

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No Home For That Type Of Complaint

, , , , | Right | September 9, 2020

I work answering the phones for a commercial real estate company that leases and acts as managers for our buildings. One day, I get a call and the guy on the other end is nice enough. He introduces himself and starts talking about how he has a “problem” with his property and he hasn’t been able to get help with it. I ask him to describe the problem to me so I can get him in contact with the best person to fix it, and his honest-to-God answer is, “There are homeless people in front of my store.”

I sit there for a minute trying to think about what to say next. He correctly interprets my silence as judgement and confusion, so he gets aggressive and asks, “What is [Company] going to do about it?” I explain that there’s not really anything we can do about it, as they are allowed to be there as long as they aren’t doing anything illegal. He launches into a tirade about how his mother shops there and she has to walk by these people to get to his store, they’re driving his customers away, and he’s going to go out of business!

I explain to him that if he really is worried about his customers’ safety, he can always report them to the city or police and ask for their advice. Well, that is the wrong answer, and the true yelling begins, basically implying it’s our companies job to forcibly relocate these people. I ask him what he wants us to do about it and he stammers some non-answer like, “Something!” and goes back into ranting about how his business is going under and it’s all these homeless people’s fault.

The best part from this is his complaint that they will sometimes set up a blanket to sell things! In a shopping center! The nerve! I roll my eyes, tell him I will not be continuing the conversation, and wish him a good day.

He says, “Seriously? You’re not going to help me?!” and I say, “Yup, seriously,” followed by a satisfying click.

Felt like a queen.

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