Monday, December 28, 2009

International Incident

Yesterday, the Matron and Stryker went shopping.

Stop right there. This in and of itself would be a blog pot -- mom and teen son shopping for CLOTHING. Did you know it is entirely possible to walk through an entire department store and feel that nothing looks "quite right?"

But this post isn't about the mother-son dramas, but a drama of a different sort, an international incident that the busybody Matron felt compelled to get involved in. Yes, she stuck her pretty little nose into somebody else's business but she was more like U.N and UNICEF than anybody's militia.

You see, the Matron was watching her son carefully reject every single piece of clothing in Herberger's---this is his version of shopping-- when she heard a loud this:

"You call that ringing somebody up? I been coming here for years and I have NEVER seen anybody this slow. Why are you announcing each item's cost as you ring it up? Is this a new POLICY, that you have to announce the price? This is really the stupidest thing I have ever seen. Who taught you to do this?"

A very (very) large African-American woman was throwing her arms up in the air over the pace of a very thin nervous looking Indian (as in the country) teenager trying to ring up a mound of children's clothing.

Key item: Mound. There must've been 30 jumpers, pairs of socks, sweaters, booties and jackets.

Now, the Matron has no idea how long this woman had been waiting for the teen to finish his task. Perhaps she had indeed been standing at his side for several hours and had every reason to be righteous.

All the Matron saw was this woman systematically berate and humiliate this young man. He was an idiot, a dupe, too slow for sugar to boil, impossible, abusing Herberger's good name, rude, and costing her way too much time.

To which the young man was unflaggingly polite and apologetic. Turns out there were so many clothes that he was afraid of making a mistake and being extra careful. Systematic, as it were. Then, he felt like he wanted to go back through and double check. The poor kid looked like he wanted to die on the spot. Sweat thickened his upper lip and he was anxiously checking the receipt against the mound: "Please ma'am, I am just trying to be certain I do not overcharge you."

"DOUBLE CHECK? I want to see your manager!"

The manager was Hispanic. He simply cast his eyes to the floor while the woman ranted at him too and apologized, promising things would soon go much faster.

It did occur to the Matron that if the woman were to stop yelling at the men and left the teen to his task -- perhaps reading a magazine while she waited or chatted with the girlfriend at her side or otherwise succumbed to the reality of the situation (the kid was slow) -- perhaps then the pace might actually pick up? Because it is hard to be speedy while someone is saying: "Does your mother know you're an egghead?"

Stryker saw the Matron's keen interest in the situation.

Stryker: "Don't! She'll hurt you."

No worries there, sweetie. Your mama was appropriately frightened of the wrath headed in her direction. She's a weenie that way. Instead, she stayed back for the end run.

Once the clothing was all packaged up and the deal was sealed and the woman still fuming, she made her way to the other side of the floor and asked another worker to call the store manager, whom she needed to see immediately.

The store manager was Japanese.

The Matron will never say she is color, country or creed-blind. These things shape us, just like the ability to walk on two legs -- or not. The fact that all the major players were so -- different -- struck her as contributing to the comedic element of the situation (and also an example of what the future of Herbergers and the rest of the country will look like - not white).

Once in front of the store manager, the angry customer snapped into someone else! The abusive, elemental and outrageous woman was replaced by someone so rational, so calm, so utterly believable that the Matron nearly fell over from behind the potted plant that was hiding her.

Stryker: "Mom. Can we be done with this?"

The store manager's face furrowed into a bundle of worry as the hesitant, apologetic customer explained that normally, well, she wouldn't even say a thing, but:

"This man was exceedingly rude, as well as purposefully slow."

My, she would hate to see someone else treated as such. The store manager agreed! The two shook hands and the woman hoisted herself onto the escalator while the manager hustled over to where the clerk toiled.

The woman on the escalator had a very very pleased expression on her self-satisfied face. "That'll teach him," she said happily to her sidekick. "Hope he gets himself fired."

Bye-bye, thought the Matron, watching her back disappear down to the first floor and out of sight.

Where upon the Matron trucked on over to where the store manager was querying the other manager and the clerk and made her citizen's arrest! She outed the woman as a crazy, noted that the clerk had been unflaggingly polite despite being humiliated and abused, and observed that the only person out of line had been an unhappy customer.

Of course, the whole time she had Stryker on point by the escalator should Medusa return. The Matron wanted none of that. Coward!

And the teenage clerk stared at her, eyes bright with relief, gratitude and astonishment.

This little busybody? Felt good.


apathy lounge said...

Hooray for you! I listened to an elderly white man berate an African American gas station attendant because the pumps, being out of order so that payment had to be made inside, caused him to move his ass further than he desired. He called the poor woman stupid and an idiot. I turned to him and yelled (loudly) "That, sir, was completely uncalled for. You're the idiot."

Yes...I was rude, but he deserved it. And it felt good.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! Confronting the woman would have done no good--but standing up for the clerk to the manager did a lot of good.

Anonymous said...

I totally did not see that particular ending coming, but you have my undying respect and admiration. Cowardice and principles win the day!

smalltownmom said...

Good for you, Matron!

psychicgeek said...

Your energy went exactly where it was required.

SUEB0B said...

You did a good thing. Stuff like that is so horrible.

ccr in MA said...

Oh, well done! I can't believe the woman pulled that two-faced switch. People! You handled it beautifully.

Cha Cha said...

Yay! You were that poor boy's angel ... and this story is proof that in the end, good does triumph over evil. Huzzah!

Anonymous said...

As a long-ago cashier, thank you.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I knew you'd say something. I just knew it.
Retail workers have it hard enough with customers behaving like total louts to them. I am always super nice because I cannot imagine how they suffer.

ree said...

Yep. We need to get you to Washington, post haste!

Kelly said...

Retail workers, both past and present, rise in a standing ovation.

A customer at a bookstore once called me a zombie and my co-worker a hobo. We made ourselves new name tags.

laurie said...

Good for you.

Had I been that cashier? I would have very calmly canceled her order, handed her the merchandise, and asked her to please find a cashier more to her standard of efficiency.

Then I would have called the person she went to and told her to charge her twice for a few

Minnesota Matron said...

It also occurred to me later that I was sort of the imperialist as well, intervening!

Casey said...

Good job standing up for that poor cashier
One time while cashiering during chistmas at the mall of america a customer called and told my manager she was concerned I was going to stalk her. Thats right.
What really happened was she FLIPPED out when I told her we were out of the purse she wanted and proceeded to corner me and grab me by my arms and shake me. I told her to get out of my f....freakin store before I called the cops.

I got written up.

MJ said...

Hurrah for Matron! Unfortunately, being the defender that I am, I probably would have intervened earlier. I can't stand rude behaviour!

Daisy said...

Sometimes you have to stand up for the underdog. This time, it was several underdogs. If the woman doesn't come back to the store, they really haven't lost anything; she'll berate and attack someone else, and Herberger's will be much more calm.

Heather said...

Excellent! I'm glad you were there to stand up for the boy. There are sooooo many rude people out there.

Makes me shudder to remember my days in retail work.

Sue said...

YES!!! Good for you!!!

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

You are my hero.

jenn said...

Matron, you are my hero. I wish people would report the good (or in this case the unjust) just 10% as often as they feel compelled to complain. One of my life goals is to take the time to give praise where deserved.