“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tales From Under A Middle-Aged Colored Woman

EyeglassesImage by subsetsum via Flickr
About a month ago I went to get new glasses at a very well known department store. I have had many positive experiences with this store and they had a sale on, and so I thought it was time for me to make a purchase. The sale was two for $199. I had to pay a higher price than most because I need bifocals now and of course I wanted the unlined.

I made my appointment with my _______ phone that does not work well when I am inside, so every time I spoke to the Optical Department my phone kept fading out. I could barely hear the woman who called to confirm my appointment.

When I arrived for my appointment the same woman took my information.  We picked out some frames and I told her I wanted the package that was on sale. She billed my credit card $60. for the eye exam.

She then told me that I did not need the package and recommended that I buy one pair of glasses with glare protection because the glasses I had on have it.  She added up the amount of the one pair of glasses and it was basically the same amount as the two for $199 without the glare protection.  She seemed surprised that I could do simple addition and subtraction or that I could think for myself.  The fact of the matter is that I can use the same glasses I have now for driving at night to protect my eyes from glare.  I repeated that I wanted to purchase what I had came to the store for. She told me twice, as if I were a child, that “we would discuss that later.”

There was a white man reading Harlen Coben who came in for the special too. I watched a co-worker give him exactly what he asked for. Nothing was said about glare resistant lenses or anything else.

Sitting there waiting to see the optometrist I felt confused and angry. What was going on?  Why was this woman behaving in such a disrespectful manner?

Suddenly, I remembered I did not need an eye exam for a prescription because my opthamologist had examined my eyes a few months earlier. I got up and told the woman I wanted to cancel my appointment. She acted as if it was weird, odd that I didn't remember about not needing an eye exam until at that moment.  Actually, if was her attitude that caused me to remember.  I told her I was sorry for the inconvenience I had caused and that I would need a receipt to show that my credit card had not been charged for the exam. She told me that she could not give me a receipt but assured me that my card had not been charged. Her co-worker gave me a look of disgust and resentment as she pushed a few buttons to take my credit card out of the bundle of numbers to be charged at the end of the day.

I walked away from the counter but then returned because I felt funny about not having a receipt. She told me the only thing she could give me was a copy of the charge back receipt.  I told her that would be adequate and she gave me the copy.  I apologized for causing inconvenience, then left.

After this experience, I would never go to this store’s Optical Department at that particular location again, but I am willing to try the same store to buy glasses because I know that most people who work there are respectful and courteous.  At the same time, this woman's arrogance has been a regular anomaly in my encounters with the public.  

It just irks me that I have to deal with people like this.  I think this woman thought because I am a fat, black, nappy-headed woman that she could act any way she wanted with me and I would accept it.  If I were someone else, she may have found another reason to be rude and out of line, or not.  It could be that she thought I was flaky because of my phone.  I am a little flaky these days, but usually very aware of what is happening around me.  Whatever it was she did not seem to see or hear me. 11-2-10
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