I needed some supplies to install grape trellises. After my day job, I drove to town and walked into one of the local builder supply places in Andalusia, Alabama. In particular, I was looking for a “wire bite” that I had seen demonstrated on a YouTube video about trellis installation. I doubted they would have this rather specific item, and if they did have wire bites, I had no idea where to look. A tall black employee walked over and asked if I needed assistance.
I explained what I was looking for, and he suggested we look in a nearby aisle. As we started to lead the way, another employee, a rather fat -white girl, pushed a cart into the black employee. He turned to her and said “Don’t push that cart into me.” She replied “You are black. You can just claim racism.” He stated as a matter of fact, “You are a racist.” Then he turned and led me towards the merchandise.
I was embarrassed. I hate confrontation. I reflexively let moments like this slide when they happen. And as time passes, the rage builds. And when I next see the antagonist, I generally explode.
There was no doubt that she pushed the cart into him on purpose. She was frustrated because Obama won the election, and she couldn’t take it out on Obama.
There was no doubt that the black employee was correct in his estimation of his coworker. And he took it in stride, because that’s just the way it is.
I didn’t say anything today. But I’ll speak to the store manager tomorrow.
I’m sorry I didn’t speak out then and there.
Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 5:09 PM PT: I talked to the manager of the store this afternoon – one day after the incident. I explained: what I saw, how it played out, and how terrible I felt about the situation.
The manager immediately knew who the black employee was. He said Otis is very easy-going, and probably would not have responded to the provocation. When I described the white girl to him, he also knew who she was. The manager said “She is my newest hire.” I suspect her employment is going to be very short term.
The manager said he would talk to Otis first and get his side of the story. He apologized for the incident and told me he would deal with it. He appeared sincere. We shook hands and I left, not feeling quite as bad as when I walked in.
I don’t want the white girl fired. I want her to recognize how terrible her behavior was, change her attitude, and make up for her past indiscretions by championing civil rights henceforth. Is it not nice to dream?
Barring my wished for miracle, the manager should fire her sorry ass.