It was a Wednesday, midweek upon me, and for the most part the morning started out well. I had little time to get to the store to find one item in particular in preparation for our upcoming Women’s Prayer Breakfast scheduled that following Saturday morning.
I needed to find a dress. Not that I didn’t have any but wanted one in particular that was pastel in color. I woke that morning with joy in my heart, feeling I could conquer the world in spite of not getting sleep the night before or struggling with pain when I woke. I talked with my Mom earlier who after a long conversation thanked me for encouraging her that day. And in some way I felt I had encouraged myself too and decided nothing would take away my joy that day.
I had a few places in mind but decided on one well-known department store (that I will not mention to keep their reputation in tact) that I normally do not shop at but because it was on my way to my sister’s I would stop there first and then make my way to her house. When I arrived at the store I was a bit tired after being in the sun longer than expected but still pressed towards my goal. I found a dress that was simple, yet I felt was elegant enough to suit the cause. Not to mention I fell in love with it! It was a dress made of thin crochet and you can clearly see everything through it because there was no slip inside (that should have been attached) to hide my bodily imperfections. 🙂 Even though I love my body, I knew I needed to have the slip and said I would look for one in the store later. I went to try it on.
I notified the sales lady at the fitting room of the issue and she said she would let the manager know before I check out. She complimented me on the dress and said how she thought it was beautiful. After trying it on, I stopped first at their lingerie section to look for a slip I thought may go with the dress but didn’t find one. I went back to the rack hoping to find the same dress with a slip to see what type I needed and to my surprise I found the same item with a slip inside. Yay! I was excited. My initial thought, “Try on the slip with the dress before making my final decision to purchase it.” The problem; it was a size 4 and I needed a size 8 (well…I can fit into a size 6 at times lol). But I didn’t let that stop me. Although I did have a slip at home, it was not the same color as this one but because the slip seemed large enough to fit, all I needed to do first was see how it may look under the dress. I proceeded to do just that.
At the dressing room was another sales lady along with the one I encountered the first time and she explained the situation to her. I told her I found the same dress with a slip but it did not have the designer name on the label and upon inspection we agreed it was not the same size. The other sales lady who I will call “Miss I Need To Do Things My Way” interjected with her opinion regarding the store policy on items received and made it clear the dress I had could not be paired with the slip because it did not go with that item nor would they allow me to purchase it that way. “You cannot take an item and put it with another item to purchase.” Me:”Ma’am I know that” (by that time I was irritated). She further proceeded to explain that sometimes items come in to the store missing other items but they sell the item as is. Me: “Ok” ,“Mindless chatter.”
I go into the dressing room, try on the dress with the slip and loved it! I come out and notice now there are three sales ladies, not realizing until later that the third one was an area supervisor who I will call Ms. Very Nice Area Supervisor. I didn’t think anything of it because like I said, I had one goal in mind; joy in my heart to get what I came for and not let anything or anyone ruin my day. I needed a dress and that was my only goal. The third lady looked at the dress and expressed how beautiful and unique it was. She could see my enthusiasm as I expressed the same thing and told her I would be purchasing the dress and will place the slip back with the original dress, and deal with having to find a slip at a different store. I said, “Thank you” and left.
I returned to the rack and placed the item back. Went to look at the racks once more to see if maybe another dress was there and I may have missed it and I look up and notice the Loss Prevention security guy who I’ll call “Mr. I Want To Be An Accomplice” to “Miss I Need To Do Things My Way” slowly walking opposite of me on another aisle watching me on the aisle. Mind you I was the only one there and the only one of my kind in the store. I thought, “Is he following me?” So I went to another aisle, and lo and behold, there he was again. But I didn’t make the connection and shook it off … until I decided to go to check out.
And who do I find at the register that I suspected was not supposed to be there because there were only two people in line and I did not hear over the intercom that they needed another cashier to assist; Miss I Need To Do Things My Way. I was like, “Wow… is it that serious?” I noticed her talking with Mr. I Want To Be An Accomplice and they both were looking over at me while they were conversing as I was standing in line so I could only assume the conversation was about me. I was like, “Okay, something’s up. Be on my best behavior but approach with caution.”
There was another person in front of me who Miss I Need To Do Things My Way easily could have waited on but this is what I observed. She began to fumble around the register, went back and forth, waiting for the cashier across from her to finish with her customer in order to make sure she herself waits specifically on me. The other cashier finishes and signals the customer in front of me to the register. Miss I Need To Do Things My Way then said to me, “I can help you over here.” Me: “That’s okay. I will wait for the other cashier.”
But then something happened that made me furious. She yells across the room to the other cashier while the other customer is standing there, “Make sure the slip is not in her dress” pointing at me. Whoa…. Did you really have to do that? Did you really have to put me on blast, embarrass me in front of the customers and the whole store, letting everyone think I’m trying to steal something out of your store, and make your point known?”
By that time I was livid, got out of the line, and went to try and explain my dissatisfaction to Mr. I Want To Be An Accomplice who looked at me like I was crazy after taking sides with Miss I Need To Do Things My Way. After losing my breath and my composure (a little), he decided to ask if I needed to talk with a supervisor. Me: “Yes” with my head minimally tilted to the side.
Ms. Nice Area Supervisor comes up, I remember her now, talk with her and explain my issue and dissatisfaction with the fact that I felt I had been picked out to be picked on and racially profiling me was wrong! She apologized, agreed, and noted the issue should not have been taken that far because it was settled at the dressing room where she witnessed it and where I made my intentions clear. She also apologized for my having to experience being discriminated against, made a disclaimer, and wanted me to know the store does not make this a common practice towards their customers. I thanked her for her compassion and honesty as tears welled up in my eyes not because I was angry but because I was hurt and truly embarrassed especially having customers look at me is if I did something wrong.
I gave the items I desired to purchase to Ms. Nice Area Supervisor and asked that she hold them until I come in another day because I really wanted them but I was too upset and just wanted to leave the store. And I did. She took the items and said she would hold them for as long as I needed, gave me the name of the store manager, took my information, and promised she would have her call me.
Three days later I spoke with who I will call “Ms. I’m Not So Sure About This Store Manager” who managed to giggle through most of my explanation of the incident and made excuses for Miss I Need To Do Things My Way and Mr. I Want To Be An Accomplice saying he was relatively new, her too (2 weeks at that store) and he was not up to date on store policy but will be talked to.
I acknowledged her statements but when I advised her so that she is aware that I will be making a formal complaint to their corporate office, she quietly listened. I also told her I’ve had this issue happen before years ago with another huge, well-known retail store and took it to the NAACP and it was resolved amicably, gift card included, but I didn’t feel this needed to go that far. However after transferring detailed thoughts of the incident from my head to here, I’m considering it.
She apologized for the entire incident and the actions of her store personnel, made a disclaimer about the store’s policy regarding customers, and promised she would reprimand both Miss I Need To Do Things My Way and Mr. I Want To Be An Accomplice. I advised her I will follow up with her next week regarding the items.
In my opinion, this did not have to happen because Miss I Need To Do Things My Way needed to make assumptions about me based on the color of my skin instead of looking beyond her personal prejudices to avoid stereotyping and falsely accusing. And to make matters worse, she blatantly let me know of her intentions when she singled me out and her assumptions of who I was when making the decision to unfairly stigmatize by racially profiling when she purposely involved Mr. I Want To Be An Accomplice.
I know I’ve been picked out to be picked on but racial profiling is wrong! I had to address this matter and wanted to speak out about it today because no one should have to experience what I did, based on the color of their skin. We are all equal and should be treated that way no matter where we are or what people may assume about us on any given day. Stop racial profiling. Racial profiling is wrong. Can’t we all just get along? Please be careful who you pick on.
Thank you for listening! –JD