If you’ve ever worked in retail, then you know that it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world, next to prostitution.
I know this because I used to work in a grocery store in one of the worst neighborhoods in town. It was in that store where I stepped in human shit (twice).
Not only did I step in a grown person’s feces, but I also took a lot of verbal abuse from customers while I was stroking their egos. I even had several instances where I started out being verbally attacked, and then I ended up being the person’s therapist once they realized that being a good customer went hand-in-hand with good customer service.
Whatever the case, the bad customers didn’t usually come around until the holidays, when everyone’s blood pressure is high. That’s why I immediately recognized what was happening in a viral video of a Chicago-area woman who cursed out a Michael’s store employee over a reusable bag.
…[In] the 10-minute video uploaded to YouTube, the woman believed that a black employee had tried to “force” her to purchase a $1 reusable bag. Employees can be heard telling her that they offered her the bag because they were out of disposable ones that met the size of her larger items.
Jessie Grady, who filmed Wednesday evening’s profanity-laced tirade on her phone, told the Chicago Patch that she broke out her camera so that it wasn’t just the angry customer’s word against the employees’.
The shopper acted a plum fool on camera, and she was aware that she was being recorded. She yelled at Grady, “I was just discriminated against by two black women and you being a white woman and you literally thinking that’s OK…Why don’t you go home to your husband who’s cheating on you.”
She told an emergency dispatcher over the phone that she was facing discrimination because the store employees “refused to ring her up.” Presumably because she was white.
Then she told a store employee, who was black, “This woman came around and screamed at me from across the goddamn store like an animal! An animal! Animal…You screamed at me from across the store like you were in your own living room. You’re an animal.”
When another shopper brought politics into the conversation, she told them that they were “not going to tell me who I can vote for and who I can’t vote for.”
The video is thoroughly embarrassing, and there’s so much that the woman should be called out on, starting with her white privilege. In fact, you can call her the Princess of White Privilege.
I want you to understand that only a white woman could have gotten away with cursing out a person of color, throwing a temper tantrum in front of a cop, and then going home safe. Even a drunk and/or meth addicted white dude would have gotten physically handled by cops, had they acted like the woman in the video.
I also want you to understand that this is the time of year where police officers are constantly handling people with too much holly in their jollies, but somehow this white woman was able to narrowly escape getting snatched up, tossed in jail, and/or shot. That’s some bullshit.
Her pouting was problematic for both police officers who are trying to strengthen their communities, and for people of color who distrust law enforcement. Not only did she waste the cop’s time, but she also wasted the dispatcher’s time. Especially in a city with a huge metropolitan area that constantly requires their ER personnel to respond quickly to real emergencies.
People of color watching this video knew that this woman wasn’t going to be arrested. She’s a white woman, and she can get away with being messy on camera without the threat of arrest. She can also blame the holidays for her anxiety, and the world will virtually forget about her next week.
But people of color don’t have that luxury. Army Veteran Ernest Walker could’t even get a free meal at Chili’s for Veterans’s Day, even after he showed his veteran credentials. But did Walker throw a hissy fit in Chili’s? No. He went on his way politely. When his story went viral after he posted about his experience on social media, he had to move out of his home because because of death threats.
I guarantee you that the woman in the video won’t face death threats for acting a monkey in Michael’s. But thanks to white privilege, this is where we are.