I heard that quote today. I'm not sure what to make of it.

At any rate, here's the story:

I was shopping at a supermarket, a chain that I frequent, although not this particular location.

I found what I was looking for, and went to the checkout register. The cashier asked me if I had a rewards card.

I did, and gave it to her. At this particular chain, when the cashier scans the card, it shows your name to the cashier, so the cashier can thank you by name.

In any case, she looked at the name, and a couple of seconds later, completely out of the blue, asked me, "Are you mixed?"

It took me a while to process the fact that, Yes, Samer, a complete stranger just decided to ask you if you're the product of miscegenation. [To be fair, I don't know that that exact word popped into my head, but the associated idea certainly did.]

After the squiggle, I'll explain what I did.

I admit, I was taken aback. I've been asked that question before, but certainly never by a cashier. And certainly never like that.

And, to be honest, I don't think I would have had any sort of problem with that question if, say, I had met this woman and had a conversation with her, and it came up in context. I've certainly been willing to discuss it with people I know.

Heck, I'd have been a lot more comfortable with it if she said something like "Umm, this may be a sensitive question, but . . . ."

But to have someone just ask out of the blue? That I found offensive—in part because it wasn't really necessary to ask the question.

Nevertheless, I did, politely, and with the truth. My exact answer, to be honest, isn't particularly important. In retrospect, I realize that a polite, yet better, answer would have been "Do you really believe that's an appropriate question to ask a complete stranger?" I'm sure I could have come up with any number of impolite answers, but what's done is done.

I finished my transaction, still disgusted on the inside, but hiding it as best as I could, and then went straight to the customer service desk and asked to speak to the manager on duty. As it turns out, two managers showed up. I explained the situation, and they both agreed that it was inappropriate, and that they would "discuss" that with her. From the looks on their faces, I got the impression that this was not the first issue they've had with her.

I guess I have three questions: (1) Have you had similar experiences involving lack of tact? (2) What, if anything, would you have done differently? (3) Is there anything more I should do?


Was asking the question as the cashier did insensitive?

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