Picture Perfect Racism

| Right | July 8, 2014

(To generate more sales, we offer the customers a deal where, if they purchase $50 worth of extra sheets, they can purchase a full session CD for $89.99, which is regularly $250. The customer I am working with is First Nations, as I live in a community with a large Native population.)

Me: “So with this coupon, if you spend over $50 in extra merchandise, you can upgrade your CD for $89.99 if you’d like!”

Customer: “Not interested.”

Me: “Okay, not a problem. We’ll continue looking through your photos.”

(This goes on for some time while the customer’s two children, aged four and six, run around the studio lobby screaming and knocking things over. The customer finally puts the four-year-old girl in the uncomfortable looking mall stroller, where she promptly begins to scream in my ear. I continue with the sale.)

Me: “In this shot I felt like the kids were very posed, it has nice smiles from both of them though.”

Customer: “It’s ugh… Ugh! They’re all ugly! Why didn’t you take pictures of my kids like that! *gestures to stock photos on the wall of a little girl dancing around*

Me: “Generally the sessions that these types of pictures come from are sessions that start in the morning and last all day with corporate level photographers.”

Customer: “Whatever…”

(The little girl next to me is still screaming as her brother is banging away on the other computer’s keyboard. I pause so that the mother could intervene with the noise and turn slightly towards the girl to indicate why I’ve stopped. As I turn I see that the girl has raised her skirt, showing clearly soiled underwear that are the cause of her distress.)

Customer: “Hey! Don’t you f****** look at her! You f****** pervert!”

Me: “Sorry. I thought you might want to calm her down.”

Customer: “She’s my f****** daughter; I’ll do what I want! Don’t tell me how to raise my f****** kids, you white devil b****!”

Me: “I wasn’t trying to say—”

Customer: “I’M the customer. You pay attention to ME! GOT IT?!”

(Gritting my teeth, I continue with the sale. When she starts to order sheets, I realize she’s going to be buying almost $50 worth.)

Me: “If you buy one more sheet you’re over the $50 mark and you qualify for our CD deal! $89.99 for the full session, a savings of $170!”

Customer: “I’m. Not. Interested.”

Me: “Okay, I just wanted to make sure you didn’t want to take advantage of this awesome deal.”

Customer: “Seriously! Give it up! You just want more of my f****** money! You think I’m stupid, b****? ‘Cause I’m not!” *mumbles under her breath* “Stupid f****** white girl.”

(Finally the sale is coming to a close, and as I go to get up and go to the till, the customer stands up, and turns around.)

Customer: “So, I get all those images on the CD for free, right? Because I bought more than $50 with that coupon?”

Me: “No. I said you could get them for $89.99, which you refused three three times.”

Customer: “LIAR! You f****** lying white racist b****! You just don’t want to give me the free stuff because I’m Native! RACIST! RACIST!” *pointing at me as she yells*

(All the commotion has attracted the attention of the photographer in the back room, who comes out to see what the matter is.)

Photographer: “What’s going—”

Customer: “This f****** white girl is trying to rip me off because she’s racist!”

Photographer: *looks at me and then back at the customer* “I somehow doubt that, but let me see if I can find you a better deal.” *gets out paper, pencil and a calculator*

(After a few minutes the photographer concedes defeat.)

Photographer: “The deal you’re being offered is the best deal we can offer you, so unless you want to take that deal, you won’t be getting the full CD.”

Customer: “You’re a f****** racist, too! You’re all f****** RACISTS!”

Photographer: “You do realize that by assuming she’s racist because she’s white, and calling her various names pertaining to the colour of her skin, YOU are in fact being the racist?”

Customer: “Nice try! Only white people can be racist! Like the two of you!”

Photographer: “… I’m just going to let you know that my father is African Canadian, so by all accounts, I’m not ‘white.’ That’s just the colour my skin leads more towards.”

Customer: “Oh, um… I didn’t…”

(Wordlessly I walk up to the till so that the customer can pay for her photos before she leaves.)

Me: “Okay, have a nice day!”

Customer: “F*** you, you racist s***! Just because she’s black doesn’t mean you can treat me like s***!”

(The customer finally leaves. When she returned to pick up her photos she acted like nothing happened. Three years later, we still tell the story about her and her crazy attitude when we all need a laugh.)

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Appointment Disappointment

, | Right | June 12, 2014

(I work in a retail portrait studio that gets very busy during the holiday season. It is a busy Saturday, and we are completely booked. A woman walks in with her family dressed to the nines and says she’s checking in for her appointment, but I don’t see it.)

Me: “Ma’am, I don’t see you in the system. What time was your appointment for?”

Customer: “10:40 am. Are you almost ready for me? My daughter won’t cooperate for long.”

(The current time is 3:30 pm.)

Me: “Oh, well, since your appointment was for this morning I won’t be able to get you in now because we are fully booked—”

Customer: “What do you mean? I made an appointment and I expect to be seen!”

Me: “Yes, but you are five hours late for your appointment. As I was saying, we are booked today but I do have time tomorrow if you like.”

Customer: “This is outrageous! I can’t believe you don’t honor appointments!”

Me: “We do, but you are five hours late.”

Customer: “But you should be ahead of schedule!”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Customer: “I didn’t show up for my appointment earlier so you should be ahead of schedule now since you had one less appointment to do!”

Me: “Ma’am, unfortunately, all of the other guests we’ve had today didn’t magically know to show up earlier for their appointment because you wanted to come in later.”

(She continued to rant about how we should be ahead of schedule for her until we finally asked her to calm down or leave. The other guests in our very crowded studio started clapping when she left.)

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Not Quite The Picture Perfect Finish

| Right | February 19, 2014

(Our studio is in a mall. I’m the photographer in a sitting with a young child. The child is throwing a tantrum, crying and screaming, while the mother stands next to me doing nothing.)

Me: “Sometimes when kids won’t cooperate, we suggest taking a break. There’s a candy store right next to us or the toy store is right across the hall.”

Mother: “I don’t want to wait any longer to get these photos done. Just take the photo.”

Me: “We could get you right in when you come back. You wouldn’t have to wait again. Sometimes kids just need a quick distraction to calm down.”

(The kid is currently in full meltdown mode.)

Mother: “Just take the photo so I can purchase a package and go home.”

(Without even looking at the child, I snap a photo. The image comes up on the screen: the child is mid-tantrum, red-faced and screaming. I turn to the mother, deadpan.)

Me: “How’s that?”

Mother: “… The candy store is right next to you?”

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Looking For A Stuffed Cash Cow

| Right | May 22, 2013

(In order to drive business to our photography studio, we leave out stuffed animals for customers to ‘find’ and return in exchange for a free session and picture. The animals come with a silly poem with directions on where to go to collect their prize. A customer comes in, and places one of our toys on the counter.)

Customer: “I found your toy.”

Me: “Great! You’ve won a prize! You’ve won a free picture plus sitting!”

Customer: “What? You mean there’s no cash?”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “I found your toy. I was under the impression there would be a reward.”

Me: “Erm… yes. The sitting and picture is the reward.”

Customer: “Well, I want CASH!”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am; we’re not allowed to offer cash prizes.”

Customer: “Well, I don’t have to take this! I brought your toy back, and you won’t pay me for it! You do it every other time! I can’t believe you won’t do it now! I’m calling your manager to complain!”

Me: “I am the manager, ma’am. I’m quite certain I’ve never handed out a cash prize for this game.”

(The customer is now red faced and even angrier.)

Customer: “How rude of you! I’m calling your company to complain and get my cash!”

(The customer then shoved the toy across the counter, paused to take the number for customer services, and stormed out.)

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Retouched By An Angel

| Working | May 21, 2013

(My family and I did pictures at a [superstore] about two months ago. For a month and a half, my mother had been trying to get them, only to find out the photo studio went out of business, taking all the money and delivering none of the remaining pictures. After getting the runaround for weeks, my mother gets a phone call.)

Picture Lady: “Hi, is this Erika Christensen?”

Mom: “Yes, who is this?”

Picture Lady: “This is… did you take pictures in the Conway [superstore] a while back?”

Mom: “Yes. I have been trying to get them for months.”

Picture Lady: “I have your photos; if you have not received a refund, I can bring them to you.”

Mom: “Really! Where?”

Picture Lady: “Meet me over at Starbucks.”

(They meet.)

Mom: “I am so glad that you have these.”

Picture Lady: “Yeah, I am just glad that I got ahold of you. When they closed up shop they never bothered to tell us, and ever since I have been trying to track all of you down to get your pictures to you. After all, these are peoples’ families we are talking about here.”

Mom: “You have no idea how much this means to us. Thank you!”

(If you are reading this, Picture Lady: I just wanted to let you know how much this really does mean to us. My grandmother in the picture just got a pace maker put in and we do not know how much time we have left with her. My sister is a Marine and could be deployed soon. My daughter has never had a professional photo before, so this is a big first for our family. Being able to take those pictures with them meant the world to us and now to have them back means even more. Thank you!)

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