Monday, November 3, 2014

Injustice Witnessed

I am never sure exactly what to do when I witness injustice when in a store or somewhere in the public.  Usually I am silent and try to mind my own business.  I am still reflecting on the injustice I witnessed on Saturday at Samuel Wltns store with the Mart name at the end.  I will share it and if you would like to chime in and tell me what I should have done or should do next time, be my guest.

Ahead of me at the check-out counter there was a Latino couple with a baby in a stroller and a young boy about 2 or 3.  They didn't look very young like some couples I see.  They were in their twenties or maybe early 30s.  The woman was questioning the prices on the candy and only buying the stuff that was marked half price for the day after Halloween.  The last item on the conveyor belt was a twelve pack of beer.  The clerk asked for the woman's ID.  She didn't have it with her.  The husband said that he was paying and offered his ID.  That should have been the end of that.

Instead, the clerk insisted upon the woman's ID.  The man tried to argue that he was paying for it and it was his ID.  The clerk said, "I can't sell it to you, because she touched it.  That is company policy."  They were first going to buy the rest or suggested that they buy the rest and the man would buy the beer separately.  The clerk insisted that because the woman touched it, they couldn't sell them the beer.  The woman remembered that her ID was in the car, so the clerk made her go out and get that. 
The clerk checked me out while asking the man and children to step aside.

The woman arrived back at the counter as my purchase was finished.  I am not sure whether the clerk took care of them immediately or made them wait until after the next customer.  I would have waited to see, or even insisted we wait for the woman and questioned the "store policy" except that I needed to use the restroom and was afraid that any defense of the couple would have resulted in embarrassment for all (or at least me).

This is the thing that runs through my mind--if I had been shopping with my say fictional 17 year old daughter and she had lifted the beer (also fictional) onto the conveyor for me because I have a bad back would I not have been able to purchase the beer because she touched it?  If someone had a three year old in the cart with the beer and they sat on it while shopping would they not have been able to purchase it because the three year old touched it?  The answer to these is--of course not.

But, because this couple was Hispanic and maybe illegal aliens, maybe not, they accepted treatment by the clerk that was unfair and demeaning.  And let me mention that the clerk was African American and so was the other clerk who backed her up with the "store policy."

So, this is what I plan to do.  I intend to write a little letter to the WMart and tell them that they need to teach their clerks a store policy that treats all customers with respect.  I also think I will do a little personal boycott of this store until, let's say January.  There are plenty of other places around here to spend my money.  And if I had a wide audience and a social conscience I would call for a boycott of the W on Dec. 12, 2014 which is a Friday to protest the treatment of Hispanic customers by the clerks who used "store policy" to bully a very nice couple.


Julie Southern (Studio Sherwood) said...

I sometimes get all het up over a perceived injustice, too, which is totally out of my normal behavior pattern. Sometimes that leads to dramatic behavior which I later regret, LOL. As an outsider in this story, I'm a little concerned that the clerk might be the problem, and not the store. She might also have something going on in her life that made her very rule bound in this instance - an underaged relative who drinks, or someone she knows who got in trouble for selling liquor to someone under age. Or she could just be one of those rigid types who prefers the letter of the law over people. Anyway, just thoughts.

Mary said...

I agree that it was the clerk and not the store policy. I am just not sure how this can be addressed except at the corporate level. I have spoken to the store manager about another issue, and she was not very helpful or concerned.