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In which I am disappointed in my company

Had an incident a week ago where one of our regulars was listening in on a conversation I was having with a barista. Keep in mind, the customer has a tattoo of the Harry Potter scar on his forehead and has legally changed his name to a mixture of a several popular fictional characters' names. At any rate, I was telling my barista about a homeless guy who has come in several times, fallen asleep in the store, spent hours drinking through our condiment bar milks and adding all of the powders until we ran out.

The customer balked, and said that it was obvious that the man couldn't pay for the milk, and I explained that regardless, we are not a charity and the items on the condiment stand are for paying customers.

After some scoffing and making faces behind my back to my barista, he called me over by name, and asked "Are you Jewish?"

I was stunned. I asked why he would ask that, and he just smiled and replied that he was just wondering.

I thought about whether I should say anything for a long time in the back room, then went over and had a conversation with him, in which he told me that "Jews had a hierarchy, and well, since I was a manager at this company, he had just thought..." then later, he said, "I was thinking about what you said, and well, it was just a really Jew thing to say."

Then it was my turn. I explained that we were private property, and not "in public" as he claimed, and that as such, the things ON OUR PROPERTY were not free. If someone comes in and steals a sandwich, which just happen to be sitting in the case, it doesn't mean that it isn't stealing. He actually conceded me that point, thankfully. However, I had to tell him also that while he was free to think whatever he wanted to, what he was implying about Jewish people was based on stereotypes and clearly racist. He laughed and said that he was just asking me a question, and thought I was shaking with anger at this point, I told him that he had implied it in a disrespectful, insulting way and that kind of talk was not welcome in my store.

"So you don't want me to ask you any more questions?"

"If that's what that means to you, then yes."

He even gave me the obligatory "Well, I have a bunch of Jewish friends and they ARE cheap," which is just the equivalent of prefacing your racist statement with "I'm not a racist or anything, but..."

At any rate, after my incident, several of my baristas came and told me that the customer in question had said plenty of anti-semitic things in the past (including once when we had a Jewish youth group in the store), as well as disparaging things about other races. He'd even asked the barista who was working with me that evening which race she hated the most, adding "It's white people, isn't it? You hate white people."

I also learned that he'd bragged about his exchange with me over Twitter to one of my baristas, gloating about the fact that he had been racist.

The thing is, no one thought to document anything until I did. So we have just the one incident on record. But to top if all off, my company offered no help at all. Instead of advice on how to deal with a situation like this in the future, or what steps we could take to banning this jerk from the store, I was offered a little story.

A customer at another store with some mental problems had been skipped over in the line because it wasn't clear if she was lining up or even preparing to order. She approached the manager, who was a 'visible minority', and yelled "First you mess everything up in your own country, and now you're trying to screw everything up in MY country? I don't think so!"

He took this in stride, apologized for the mistake and then offered her a coffee on the house.

WTF? So because I'm a manager, I get to be every racist jackass' punching bag? AND I HAVE TO SMILE WHILE I TAKE IT?

The answer is, apparently. My DM very quietly suggested that because I was under so much stress with my father dying and all, I might have overreacted just a tiny bit. Right. So by telling the guy to keep his racist remarks to himself, I may have done something wrong. Except he was back in the store the very next day with his MOTHER, and we continued to chat about the kinds of charitable things that Starbucks does and how we can't help everyone. We didn't lose the customer, and not one of the customers who heard me talk to him that day complained that I was rude or too harsh.

So yeah, I'm feeling kind of on edge NOW, thanks to this additional bit of bullshit. I just don't know. I've been saying this out loud for weeks now, and I am slowly starting to figure out why.

Oh right, and don't even get me started on how my parents became Baptists on Saturday!



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 11th, 2011 02:03 am (UTC)
Ack, OMG, that is just so much bullshit I don't even know where to begin except maybe with WE NEED TO HANG OUT AND CHAT AND SHIT. I'm back from the States on Sunday around noon. Just let me know when, man.
Jun. 11th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
He has a Harry Potter TATTOO on his FOREHEAD? FOR REALS? You should have just been like "Are you a wizard?? I've heard wizards are racist!"

But seriously, what a crap situation!! I don't think you overreacted, by your retelling of it anyway. Maybe Starbucks needs to get a policy about that...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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