Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why Did This Black Cashier "Hate Me As A Black Man So Much"?

This is a reenactment of a set of observations that I made while going into a retail shopping strip yesterday in Clayton County Georgia.

When I "criticize" the behavior of Black people some people seeking to PROTECT THIS TYPE OF BEHAVIOR say that I "hate Black people" because I vocalize my frustrations. Their knee jerk response is to find "offending Whites" who have done the same thing. Thus their goal is not CORRECTION but NEUTRALIZATION of my words.

Instead I think a stronger case can be made that I simply have a HIGHER SET OF STANDARDS FOR BEHAVIOR than the "room temperature" rate that others have. When I notate someone who operates far below this I have the choice to remain silent and degrade my standards to match theirs or I can speak out and communicate my concerns. Keep in mind that some people don't speak out. They simply vow to "NOT COME BACK TO THE STORE".

This time I plan to turn things around and ask the critics WHY do they empower the Black people they tend to defend to continue to operate below any standard reference for behavior - particularly in the public space.

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Yesterday I was in need of some electronics accessories for my car. I could have easily driven to the local "Best Buy" and gotten everything under one roof. Instead I decided to drive up the road into Clayton County and make a round trip of my shopping list.

As I went toward the Radio Shack I noticed a "shapely" woman walking into the store while on her cellphone. (Hey - I'm a man). As I looked around I could not find what I was looking for. As I went to the store from front to back to front again I noticed that the woman on the phone was an employee of the store. As she walked into the back office and then to the register - she remained on the phone. She talked about some date she had the other day and even used some profanity in the conversation. As far as I am concerned - when she walked behind the register - SHE WAS ON THE CLOCK and off of her break.

As I was looking around in the back of the store she did not once offer to assist me. She was too involved with her own conversation.

I then walked to the front of the store and asked the other sales associate for help. She too couldn't find what I was looking for. She then called out to the other woman who was talking on the phone. She told her where to look but they were out of stock. As I cashed out with some of the other trinkets that I had purchased the other girl was still talking on the phone. She made some comments to her girlfriend that caused her coworker to smirk. Both she and I knew that she was getting a bit too personal with her conversation. SHE did not ask her co-worker to get off of the phone. This action and the music that was playing in the store showed me that my point of reference regarding what is appropriate for a retail establishment is much different than what they were operating upon.

I have a habit of stating my displeasure about customer service where people can "take it or leave it". In this case - based on the tone of the woman's conversation I would not dare seek to correct her in this manner. I assure you that I would have been told what I could do with my advice.

This Radio Shack location is likely hanging on by a thread. In addition to the compromised state of the entire Radio Shack chain because of the competition from big box electronic stores and Wal-Mart this location is contained within a shopping center that is facing a changing economic demographic. This particular shopping center has been around for the 20 years that I have been in the area. One look at the present line up of the stores shows the details of how the top line retailers have moved out - sans Radio Shack - and now discount stores and independents have taken their place.

Is it too much for me to expect that all sales associates operate with regard to ONE COMMON SET OF STANDARDS? "The customer comes first!!".

Thus I must get the jump on the attacks upon ME for daring to comment on the situation and ask my question: "What was within this sales associate's line of thinking that made her believe that her GIRLFRIEND on the phone was more important than helping me - a Black man and a CUSTOMER who ultimately insured that she had a job?"


Too often when we hear about "flight" from an area the argument is made in terms of the bigotry of those who have departed from the space. Rarely do certain people talk about the attributes of those who are 'left behind' that some people choose not to deal with. At the end of the day - there must be a common set of decency that is expected and enforced within the public space.

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