"Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson"

So not funny. Nor original. Let me relay an experience from one of my classes this summer.

In my International Studies class we were required to do a 10-15 minute presentation on a current event of important international importance. I chose to do my presentation on the possible election of Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States.

After my presentation, one of my classmates asked how old she was. I responded that I wasn’t sure and thought mid to late 50s (she turned 60 in October). The classmate then asked me whether Clinton had gone through ‘the change.’ Seriously. I couldn’t make this up. I looked at him rather astonishedly, and said, “Excuse me?” He said, “You know, has she gone through menopause? Because when women go through menopause they can become irritable and have hot flashes and those kinds of things.” I stood there completely flabbergasted. I practically yelled at him, “Are you trying to tell me that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be President because she ‘might’ have a hot flash or become irritable and will push the red nuclear button out of bitchiness?” He kind of laughed. I was stunned. And then he continued! “And have you heard of the ‘baby blues’?” “You mean, post-partum depression?” I said, trying to keep my cool. “Well, you know, women get affected by those as well.” I countered, “Well, Chelsea Clinton is in her late 20s, so I think that won’t be a problem.” Luckily my professor jumped in at this point and put an end to the conversation, telling the classmate that his thinking is the type that feminists dispute. I think he should have told him to go back to the Dark Ages and stay there.

So I don’t think the above cartoon is funny. Plus, I think we should quit dichotomizing weakness and tears with strength and lack of emotion. Tears are not a sign of weakness. They are a normal emotional reaction. Enough said.

Speaking of stereotyping and such, here’s a fantastic story from work this weekend. It may even go down as legendary. It’s the story of the anti-Listerine clan. And yes – I wrote that correctly.
I was at the Courtesy Desk at about 12:30, covering the lunch break of a fellow associate. I wasn’t busy and was cleaning the countertop when a customer came up to me, seemingly in a huff. He said to me,
“You need to talk to that cashier at #5.” I thought, oh great, another customer complaint. I asked the customer what the problem was. He responded, and I quote,
“She needs to check her morals.” I was speechless for a moment. First of all, what an odd sentence; it almost makes no sense, until you think about it. In the seconds that followed, I tried to figure out what morally reprehensible sin the cashier at #5 could possibly be committing at 12:30 on a Saturday afternoon in the midst of a busy Walmart. I couldn’t think of anything. I asked the customer what exactly was occurring that was causing him so much concern.
“Well she’s selling the guy 20 bottles of Listerine!” My first reaction: I wanted to laugh. It’s Listerine! The customer obviously saw my lack of understanding – it was written all over my face. So he said to me, “You know what he’s gonna do, don’t you?” at which point it clicked. The customer figured the person buying the Listerine was going to go and drink it to get high. I really wanted to tell the customer I thought the man buying the Listerine was going to go and fight gingivitis, but I didn’t think it was a good idea. The customer was dead serious that I do something about the guy buying the 20-odd bottles of Listerine. Now, I never saw the customer, and didn’t get a description of him until later in the day. So I told the customer,
“I can’t do much about it. We don’t have a sign stating there’s a limit to how much Listerine a person can buy.”
“Well you know what he’s going to do with it, don’t you? It’s morally irresponsible to sell that much Listerine to him!”
“Well sir, I can’t refuse to sell a product to a customer based on your suspicions. Plus, I cannot tell him what is morally right.”
The man walks away, visibly pissed off. I go back to cleaning up. A few minutes later, as I’m just finishing with another customer, the man is back. And he’s ready for battle. He stares me down and says, “Well, aren’t you going to do something?”
“Sir, I can’t do anything. I’m not responsible for what people buy. He’s not doing anything illegal.”
“Yes you can! You have a responsibility! What if he goes out and drinks all of that Listerine, then drives, and kills your kid?” he asks. I just stare at him. Then he yells, “Next you’re going to have kids taking cold medicine and making crystal meth in your parking lot!” I tell him he’s jumping to conclusions, that we have vendors in here all of the time, buying large quantities of products for resale in their own stores. His suspicions are not sufficient for me to interject in a sale. But he’s not buying it.
So I very firmly state, “Sir, I CANNOT refuse a sale based on your moral reasons.” He then asked to speak to a manager, since I was useless. I called Chris, who, when I told him the customer was concerned about someone buying a rather large amount of Listerine, laughed and commented on how this usually happens at Confed, not here. Chris came up, and listened to the man and the now FOUR other people who had now joined his complaint. The discussion was rather intense for a few minutes, as the four people claimed that it’s the retailer’s responsibility to the community to stop suspicious sales. Chris states that, of course, it is not. In fact, if we refuse a sale to a customer, and then find out our suspicions were unfounded, it becomes a human rights issue. In other words, he repeated what I had said. Of course the man and his mob weren’t satisfied and wanted to talk to an even higher authority. Chris pointed to the number of Head Office and told them to take their complaining there (well, he said it more politely than that). So the customers took down the number and left, still miffed that we didn’t do anything about it. Chris looked at me and said, “That was fun.” And that was that.
There were so many things I wanted to say to these people, especially since I never saw the customer in question. I thought of some examples of other things we should ‘guard’ in the store. Should I stand by the condoms and refuse to sell them to teenagers under the age of 18 or to those who aren’t married? Should I refuse to sell clothing with suggestive slogans to young girls? Should Walmart refuse to sell knives to teenage boys because they might be involved in gang activity and could possibly stab someone? And what about alcohol? People drink and drive, needlessly killing innocent people. Should we not then, by this man’s logic, shut down liquor board stores and stop selling alcohol since it could harm someone.
  1. Joel said:

    Two things:1) I wish I could have been in your PSCI class to see that discourse. Most likely I would have made an audible “Uh Oh!”2) I’m completely speechless about the anti-Listerine brigade. I’m glad it wasn’t me, cuz I’m pretty sure I would have gone crazy with their density.

  2. Allie said:

    Amusingly, there is legislation in the UK so that knives cannot be sold to anyone under 18. They even have signs up that state this.

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