Friday, January 12, 2007

An Encounter With A Rude Customer

My friend Lisa works at Jewel Food Stores as a cashier. She was born profoundly deaf but was able to benefit from hearing aids while growing up. Two years ago, her ability to use her hearing aids suddenly stopped and she obtained a cochlear implant. She is slowly learning to use the phone again but the majority of her communication understanding comes via lipreading/speechreading.

She started at Jewel bagging groceries and within a short time, she was promoted to cashier. She wears a nameplate that lets customers know that they must face her when speaking.

One day, she had a tall customer with white hair who looked remarkably like Cruella, the mean lady from 101 Dalmations. The customer asked for cash back in the amount of just a dollar. "I thought that was odd," said Lisa. "Usually people ask for ten or twenty dollar amounts."

As she finished ringing up the sale, the customer looked at Lisa and demanded her book of stamps.

Lisa apologized for missing her request, explaining that she was deaf and didn't hear her.

"Then why are you working here?" the customer said loudly.

Lisa stared at her in shock, but quickly recovered.

"Excuse me, lady!" she shot back. "That's discrimination! I worked my way up and I deserve this job!"

After "Cruella" took off, the customer behind her remarked, "I can't believe there are still some people like that!"

Needless to say, "Cruella" no longer gets in Lisa's line when she does her weekly shopping.

16 comments:

Dawn Colclasure said...

I am shocked and saddened that there are such cold and insensitive people who would do something like that. Good for your friend for standing up for herself! I probably would've been too speechless and numb from such a verbal blow.

Dianrez said...

Dawn, there's more like that out there. When a friend bought a new Mazda and later drove it into his company parking lot, a coworker yelled at him, "where did you get that car?" "I bought it." "No, you didn't, you're not allowed to drive or buy cars, you're deaf-mute."
Honest. That goes along with other remarks people have made, such as this one to me: "I worry for you, you shouldn't be driving. How can you hear sirens?"
For such people education is impossible in just five minutes.
DPG

Anonymous said...

There will always be jerks around, but fortunately people are more accepting than before. Good for your friend's assertive remark!

mishkazena

Anonymous said...

The best alternative is to inform Lisa's manager about the customer's bad manner. Never knows if she will contact the Jewel Food Store Headquarter soon or later. The manager and supervisors always document in the company record daily.

No matter how any customer insults to any employee. It is better to inform the managers about any situation since any customer can easily sue any company. Additional, keep your chin high.

Mookie

groovyoldlady said...

Ya know...in all honesty, I remember thinking "What the heck is SHE doing working here?" when I encountered a blind girl working the register at a Goodwill store. Fortunately she couldn't hear my thoughts or see my dumbfounded face (I hope i wasn't outeardly rude like Cruella). Thanks for putting me in my place!

Hopefully my girlies will grow up without prejudice against folks who are different. (Groovy goes off and bangs her head against a wall.)

I'm so glad I'm getting to know you!

Karen said...

The best alternative is to inform Lisa's manager about the customer's bad manner. Never knows if she will contact the Jewel Food Store Headquarter soon or later. The manager and supervisors always document in the company record daily.

Mookie, Lisa informed her managers right away and they have backed her up.

IamMine said...

Yes, sadly that is not "uncommon" as we'd like to see.

Two weeks ago I really had an upsetting and totally unexpected incident at Kmart.

There was a long wait in the line for some reason and then it came to my turn.

Realizing the frustration and impatience of the people behind me, I decided not to ask for a paper and pen.

I figured it wouldn't be such a big problem if I pointed at two products, specifically at the price tags, using my "shark" voice:

"Are those two the same prices?" (There was a sale going on for those two similar products but in different numbers).

I always expected people to be a little thrown off when they hear my voice, and it usually does. But they generally try again by asking me to repeat or do I want a paper or pen?

Not this young man.

I was not prepared for this.

He blinked his eyes, starts chuckling, going “w-w-wh” *laughs* “what?” looking at the people in the back as if to look for an audience to laugh with him….then unable to control himself, burst out laughing.

Laughed HARD at my face. OMG.

My 11 years old daughter was there with me and she didn't understand what was going on - why was he laughing.

I.Could.Not.Believe.It.

Boiling inside, I blew up. I was told that I speak really clear when I'm PISSED OFF.

"WHAT'S SO FUNNY? I JUST ASKED IF THEY WERE THE SAME PRICES OR NOT?!"

He snapped out of it and he was the smallest insect in the building.

Everyone in the line was quiet.

I told him I was going to his manager and I did.

She profusely apologized and said that all of people, Don should have known better.

I can't believe I screamed at the top of my lungs and I am NOT that kind of person. I am a very tolerant person.

This was beyond the "normal" stupid hearies moments!!!

Karen said...

You're right, it is not uncommon. But to be laughed at? That's a truly rude thing to encounter. I'm sorry you went through that.

dianrez said...

"He blinked his eyes, starts chuckling, going “w-w-wh” *laughs* “what?” looking at the people in the back as if to look for an audience to laugh with him..."

Iammine, that was a bang-on accurate description of this kind of cretin. I immediately recognized him as he has popped up in every place and every blue moon. Perhaps he has clones in all places and they manage to find every deaf person there is.

I'm glad you blasted him. That one was for all of us!

Anonymous said...

I am deaf cashier at Safeway and I hardly can read the lips. I can relate that!

Renny Kassel
Fremont, California

Anonymous said...

There are rude customers, and then there are rude co-workers. At my current job thankfully all the customers have been great so far. But this one co-worker was driving me up the wall with his literal barking voice telling me where this and that item goes like every ten minutes in front of customers. I was feeling quite irritated and after he did that for the tenth time (I'm not kidding!) I went to the manager and reported it.
She explained he does the same thing to her, too and asked if I wanted her to speak to him. I decided to have a "chat" with him myself and try to resolve it first.
I had a private moment with this annoying co-worker and pointed out that he was a great worker and I am glad to know he is always there for me when I need help. Then I asked him point blank not to help me any more if I don't ask for it as it was overwhelming. He agreed to my request and ever since, it's been so peaceful between him and I. Sometimes it just helps to talk it out first nicely without blowing it all out of proportion.
But I agree, there are some people who CANNOT be educated in a time span of 5 minutes. Sigh.

Carrie Gellibrand

kkurt said...

I've had comments that deaf people shouldn't drive, shouldn't have children, etc. I've often shot back comments to those people that I didn't think they deserved to be parents and be alcholoics or herion users. I've told off people with several DUI records that THEY shouldn't drive. But you know what, the world still goes on and "those" people are still losers, idiots and self centered, it's their loss.

Daisy said...

I am hearing impaired and my son is blind. Both of us encounter bias frequently. I get more of it because I am an adult and a professional -- people think I'm incapable because I'm disabled. Surprise! I wear two hearing aids and I teach elementary school!

Kirk M said...

Been there...done that..encountered that...again and again and again...

(Heavy resigned sigh etc...)

Boy, it's nice to find a place where there's like minded people rather some organized type of forum. This is more like gathering in the kitchen for some morning coffee and scones (ok...blueberry muffins).

I wrote a recent post about being "mostly deaf" that was prompted by my latest experiences at work. It's not that my co-workers are being intentionaly rude, it's just that it's so ingrained in people's heads (in general that is) that everyone can hear as well as they can so it's doubly frustrating not to blow up at them just because they're acting normally. They do try though and it's obvious that they do which helps me keep my temper.

I can thank my time as a Cold War submariner for teaching me how to be very patient and tolerating when my natural inclination is to "set things straight(!) if you know what I mean.

Oh...and hello everyone. Nice to meet you.

Karen said...

Kirk wrote:

This is more like gathering in the kitchen for some morning coffee and scones (ok...blueberry muffins).

Hold the coffee and pass the muffins! :)

Skye said...

"Needless to say, "Cruella" no longer gets in Lisa's line when she does her weekly shopping."

If only all the hideously rude people in the world could self-segregate somewhere else...