Suited To The Role

| San Francisco, CA, USA | Awesome Workers, Bigotry, Top

(I work the floor at an independently-owned menswear store. The owner, my boss, spends a lot of time at the shop, and tries to keep prices as low as possible to help our city’s large homeless population get good job interview clothes. A clearly homeless man is wandering around the store. The other patrons are giving him looks.)

Customer: “Excuse me, sir?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am?”

Customer: “I think you may want to call security. That… bum over there, he keeps feeling the suits and muttering to himself. I’m just sure he’s planning to steal one.”

Me: “Well, ma’am, I think that’s quite unlikely.”

Customer: “Oh, come on, you know how they are! I mean, I’d keep an eye on him even if he wasn’t homeless!”

(The homeless man in question happens to be Hispanic.)

Me: “We don’t discriminate here, ma’am.”

Customer: “Well, I’m sure the owner would want to hear about this!”

(I give in and call him over. The customer explains her concerns. As a black man, my boss isn’t happy with her racism, but agrees to talk to the homeless man.)

Owner: “Excuse me, sir, are you finding what you need?”

Homeless Man: “Well, not really. I’m hoping for something versatile in a dark or navy wool, but most of the options in my size are cut American style instead of European, which fits me a little better. Not to mention they’re all pinstriped, which I really don’t have the build for, you know?”

Owner: “I… yes, I understand. I think we may have some options over here, if you’ll follow me. How did you know all that?”

Homeless Man: “Back before I lost my job, I used to be really into this stuff. I’m not looking for anything fancy, just something I can use to look good for a job interview later today.”

(My boss helps him find something he likes, and comes to the counter with him. The suit is priced at $87.)

Homeless Man: *digging in his pockets* “Hang on, I think I’ve got enough.”

Owner: *to me* “Take my card. I’m buying it for him.” *to the homeless man* “Here. The suit’s yours, on one condition. After your interview today, you come back and apply for a job here too. Got it?”

Homeless Man: “I… oh my God, thank you. Thank you so much.”

(Two years later, that formerly-homeless man is my manager, and has a little girl with his new wife—the owner’s sister.)

Why Working Retail Isn’t A-pee-ling

| California, USA | Family & Kids, Health & Body

(It’s the holiday time and our store is very busy. There must be 40 people in the store, plus their children. One of the seasonal help comes up to me looking afraid.)

Coworker: “So, um… there was this women, and she um, she took her son over to a corner and well… she um had him pee in a bottle.”

Me: “As long as he didn’t pee on the merchandise, then I don’t care.”

Coworker: “What should we do? I mean, who does that?”

Me: *shrugs* “I don’t know!”

(I investigate, and sure enough there is pee all over the floor. We clean it up best we can, but people roll their strollers and walk right through it. This is not the first time kids have peed in our store, but at least it wasn’t a full diaper left under a rounder!)

Cooking Up A Storm

| MD, USA | Family & Kids, Holidays

(A confused woman and her child, about nine years old, approaches the counter.)

Customer: “Whole lot of people here today, isn’t there? Never seen it so busy.”

Me: “We get quite a crowd for Black Friday sale, yeah.”

Customer: *confused* “Black Friday?”

Me: “Retail nickname for the day after Thanksgiving.”

Customer: “Oh, I know, but that’s today? Yesterday was Thanksgiving?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am.”

Customer: *looks down at her daughter* “Why didn’t you tell me it was Thanksgiving? Your grandmother is going to have my hide for missing dinner!”

(The sweet looking little kid looks back and smiles.)

Daughter: “Well, nana’s cooking sucks anyway.”