We had a going away party for a colleague recently. It was a potluck, and, gourmet chef that I am, I volunteered to bring the drinks. And, astute planner that I am, I waited until the last minute to do so. So I moseyed on over to my local ____ Store, so I could get the proper items. And here is what happened to me:
(Note: The following interaction has been severely dramatized to reflect how I felt and names have been changed to reflect the innocent. You have been warned)
I fill my cart with some soda and fruit punch and go over to aisle #3, where a man in front of me has a cart filled with a big ole box of Draino. The man is white, the cashier is black.
Cashier: Why, Sir, what you got there?? Twelve bottles of Draino??
Him: Look Darky, I’m in a rush, so don’t give me no lip. Just ring up my stuff.
Cashier: I suuuuuuure will, Sir! Don’t you worry about a blessed thing. Let’s see, 12 bottles of Draino …
Him: Just ring it up! Can’t you see I got shit to tend to?
Cashier: Yes sir, I’m on it. Let’s see, one bottle of Draino * scan *, two bottles of Draino * scan * …
(She proceeds to ring each single bottle up, one at a time, as the man’s patience seems to dwindle, finally, she’s finished and he gives her the money)
Cashier: Thank you so much, Sir!!! You have a very pleasant day!! You have a very pleasant day! And after you have that pleasant day, I want you to go back and enjoy it extra hard for me, hear?
Him: Yeah yeah, they need to send all ya’ll back to Africa.
(He leaves. I put my items on the conveyer belt, expecting the same cheerful treatment. In case you haven’t noticed, I am black, and again, so is the Cashier)
Cashier: (rolling eyes) My register is closed.
Me: Really? Your light is on and I only have three things.
Cashier: Fine, whatever. I’ll ring you up. Is this all you have?
Me: Yep, that’s it. No Draino today!
(I laugh, she does not. She proceeds to avoid my eyes as she tosses all of my stuff in the bag and then she gives me my total)
Me: Thank you
Cashier: (she ignores me and goes on to the next customer, which is odd, since her register was supposedly closed just a minute ago)
Me: (louder this time) I said, ‘THANK YOU.’
Cashier: What, nigga?? You want a thank you? Fine, THANK YOU. DAMN!
I went back to work and told a couple of people about the incident. Several black people told me that they’ve been in similar situations, where a black worker goes out of their way for the white person and then treats the black person like dirt. Then someone else got me to thinking that maybe ole girl didn’t like my dreadlocks, and developed some bias against me based off of that.
Well, the more I thought about it, the more enraged I felt. So I whipped out my receipt, found out the cashier’s name was Kim (again, not her name), I accessed the ____ Store website and fired off a complaint. I told them what happened and summed it up like this:
This treatment was hurtful because I have no idea what made Kim treat me so poorly, especially since we are both African American women. I was on a break from work, so I was dressed professionally, and as I stated earlier, I was kind to her. I have shopped at this location several times in the past and I’ve never been disrespected before. This was a humiliating experience, especially considering the fact that Kim does not treat ALL customers this way, just the ones who look like her, or perhaps those in which she has developed preconceived notions.
The store sent me an apology today and told me that kind of behavior is not tolerated, and that a manager would take care of that matter. The whole thing still ticks me off, and makes me wonder how many Kims there are in this world.
(Photo from http://www.sonofthesouth.net/slavery/african-american-art/uncle-tom.jpg )
(*Reference to Arrested Development's 'Everyday People)