Last week in Winnipeg, a heated confrontation between a Sears Clerk and an unruly customer took a turn for the worse when a racial comment was uttered by the clerk. It was in response to the clerk’s mental acuity being challenged but that didn’t matter. The customer asked the clerk what Domo, (gas station) he came from and the clerk unwittingly and in violation of all customer service rules, engaged the customer in an argument. “Let me guess, you came off the boat?” Was his response.
To be quite honest, and in my opinion, it was not a bad comeback for one-uppancy. It was
designed to hurt, belittle and embarrass the customer in front of the
shoppers and employees. Foolish?
Definitely. There’s no place for racist comments. I doubt that the
clerk himself was a racist. He reacted to the customer’s punch with a wicked
counterpunch. A punch that unfortunately was heard and felt around the
world because of its racial undertones.
In any argument, making racial comments and gay slurs are never taken
lightly. Given the history of hate crimes against these groups. Because of this, one must be sensitive and level-headed. Some of us have thinner skins than others. We bristle at the slightest negative comment directed against us. We also say the first thing that comes to us in trying to defend the verbal personal assault. Sometimes it is not from the heart but unfortunately, it falls in the category of the things we cannot take back. I have done it and I’m sure you have too. It really doesn’t mean we are bad people, homophobic or racist, just people who were pushed in a corner and reacted instinctively. Lashing out blindly, using whatever we could find.
The clerk was fired soon after. Do I think he should have been? I don’t. He should have been suspended. Cops get suspended for doing worse things. With pay to boot! The clerk should have been made to attend classes on how to deal with situations like these. Unfortunately, Sears employees are not provided training in customer service. Maybe spend a day volunteering in the soup kitchen would be helpful too. The customer is not a victim. His behavior doesn’t warrant him being treated like a hero. He was belligerent, forceful and rude. He was not a saint. He should have been escorted out before his behavior cost someone their job. The clerk is the victim. But the victim of his own doing.
Looking at the video, you can see other Sears employees standing close by without intervening. Why wasn’t security notified at the first sign of unacceptable behavior on the customer’s part? Why didn’t the employee back away from the situation, as per protocol, and alert his manager?
I once got a friend, who was white, so mad at me that she uttered the dreaded ‘N’ word in anger. It never crossed my mind that she was racist. I just thought that I must have really pissed her off. Did I just step off the boat? Was that your best shot? Well to be honest, I don’t like being on boats so I took the plane and I got off that plane 26 years ago.
Just my take.