Customer profile: the card player


Here’s a recent interaction I had with a customer who brought a hot dog up to the counter:

“Excuse me, how much are you going to charge me for this hot dog? It’s been out there at least an hour and a half. I was in here earlier and saw it.”

“I have to charge full price.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, the hold time on those is four hours. I can’t give you a discount for it being an hour and a half old.” (It was actually two hours old, I didn’t add. Nor did I explain to him that the next step after “full price” for prepared food here is “expired and unsalable.”)

“OK, I’ll just put it back on the roller, then.”

“No, I can’t let you do that. Let me have it, and I’ll throw it out.”

“Why? I’ll just put it back.”

“No, I have to assume that you touched it, which means it can’t go back on the roller grill.” (I also couldn’t see whether or not he’d put condiments under it, I didn’t add.)

“What do you mean I touched it? I used tongs.”

“I can’t assume that.” (And he didn’t use tongs to carry it up to the counter, I didn’t add.)

“OK, racist.”

“…What?”

“OK, then I guess I’ll just get –”

“You called me a racist for that?”

“Are you still bent out of shape about that?”

He went on to buy a bag of chips or something, and after the transaction was over I pointed him toward the sign with the corporate customer-service hotline, “just in case you want to report me for my racism.”

“No, I won’t be doing that. I’m not a complainer like you.”

 

I don’t normally push back against the customers like I did with this fool, because the minimal chance of it backfiring on me is still more than the chance of it doing any good for anyone, but goddamn does misuse of the word “racist” irritate me.

I’m white, so I haven’t personally suffered from racism, but I’m white enough (and generally non-confrontational enough) that a few racists have felt safe confiding in me.

I’ve had a landlord explain to me his double standards on prospective tenants and how he could avoid renting to anyone he chose and maintain plausible deniability. Racism wasn’t the only prejudice he acted on, but it was probably his second biggest, behind sexism.

I’ve had a coworker earnestly explain to me that he’d heard from his mother, a hospital worker, how a black baby’s placenta smells different than a white baby’s placenta.

I’ve been describing a problem customer to another coworker and had them ask “was he black,” as if that explained everything.

Racism exists.

And accusations of racism are serious fucking insults that should be reserved for actual racists, not random white people who mildly disappoint you by not letting you haggle down the price of a fucking hot dog.

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