I was in line in the fitting room of a department store, behind someone who realized they were accidentally in the ladies’ queue. The store clerk looked surprised and said, “Do you want to use the men’s locker room?!” The person said yes and headed over there. Then the employee said, a little to no one, but I was there to witness it: “But you are a woman!” I was quite horrified on behalf of this other client and stunned speechless. I wanted to say something to this clueless employee, but I froze! What would you do in this scenario?
Shocked buyer (female, 34)
Dear Shocked Customer,
I hope I would at least give the seller my sharpest daggers, but I would be more concerned about the other customer. If I could tell they were upset about the encounter, I would try to casually offer some support. I guess I would say something like, “That person was a real jerk. Don’t let them get you down.” But it is impossible to be sure without being in the moment.
Since you feel strong enough to ask me about this, I think you should call the store and speak to the manager. If it’s a big chain, you can also send an email or letter to the head office. Be sure to note the date and time of the incident and give a description of the seller. It couldn’t hurt to suggest that they do some awareness training with their employees.
In a perfect world, we’d still be ready to stand up to any evil “ism” that raised its head, but nothing about this place is perfect. Unfortunately, this probably won’t be the last time you encounter such behavior. Spend some time imagining how you might react in similar situations and you’ll be better prepared to talk about it.
Good luck and God bless you,