How often do you see outright racism in your daily life? I’m assuming not very often, and most likely not out in crowded public places! Many people judge others by the clothes they wear, the things they buy, or even the way they might speak…but judging someone based on the color of their skin? That’s downright ridiculous, and the owners of this shop had no problem showing this woman just how wrong she was!
(I work the floor at an independently-owned menswear store. The owner, my boss, spends a lot of time at the shop, and tries to keep prices as low as possible to help our city’s large homeless population get good job interview clothes. A clearly homeless man is wandering around the store. The other patrons are giving him looks.)
Customer: “Excuse me, sir?”
Me: “Yes, ma’am?”
Customer: “I think you may want to call security. That… bum over there, he keeps feeling the suits and muttering to himself. I’m just sure he’s planning to steal one.”
Me: “Well, ma’am, I think that’s quite unlikely.”
Customer: “Oh, come on, you know how they are! I mean, I’d keep an eye on him – even if he wasn’t homeless!”
(The homeless man in question happens to be Hispanic.)
Me: “We don’t discriminate here, ma’am.”
Customer: “Well, I’m sure the owner would want to hear about this!”
(I give in and call him over. The customer explains her concerns. As a black man, my boss isn’t happy with her racism, but agrees to talk to the homeless man.)
Owner: “Excuse me, sir, are you finding what you need?”
Homeless Man: “Well, not really. I’m hoping for something versatile in a dark or navy wool, but most of the options in my size are cut American style instead of European, which fits me a little better. Not to mention they’re all pinstriped, which I really don’t have the build for, you know?”
Owner: “I… yes, I understand. I think we may have some options over here, if you’ll follow me. How did you know all that?”
Homeless Man: “Back before I lost my job, I used to be really into this stuff. I’m not looking for anything fancy, just something I can use to look good for a job interview later today.”
(My boss helps him find something he likes, and comes to the counter with him. The suit is priced at $87.)
Homeless Man: *digging in his pockets* “Hang on, I think I’ve got enough.”
Owner: “Here. The suit’s yours, on one condition. After your interview today, you come back and apply for a job here too. Got it?”
Homeless Man: “I… oh my God, thank you. Thank you so much.”
According to a few comments and other sources, the man ended up becoming very close with the owner and even married his daughter, moving on to manage the store himself. Who knows if that last part is true, but I think the store owner handled the entire situation very well!
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