Double post today because missed yesterday… Also I need to rant. Long post.
A white couple accused me of not understanding English today at work. Me, studying political science and social justice, found it extremely hard to deal with it. I was dealing with another customer’s food, and they came by and told me to clean the conveyor belt. 1) I just cleaned it. 2) I cannot clean the conveyor belt if food or people are nearby. 3) I am actually not allowed to clean when there are people in line. 4) I wasn’t even servicing them?? 5) Even the customer I was currently servicing stared in shock at the rudeness of the couple and they said they didn’t care about the conveyor belt (because it is fucking clean, an OCD neat freak like myself really cares about cleaniness).
Anyways, I responded “yes I will clean it after this customer; I cannot clean when people or food are present, or if there are people in my line.” At which they said: “do you not understand me? Can you hear what I am talking about? The English? What is wrong with you? Can you UNDERSTAND me at all?” They repeated that several times, elongating the words. They further accused me of being unable to hear or understand, and that I am too stupid, being an immigrant and all that jazz (but I am born and raised in Canada). All this time, I was not even serving them!! They literally walked past my cash register on their way off somewhere… and they were checking out each of my cashier co-workers too!! They picked me and stood watching and saying my name over and over again, in addition to the verbal racial insults that I am too upset to repeat.
I chose to ignore their harassment after repeating “yes I will clean it after this customer; I cannot clean when people or food are present, or if there are people in my line.” I needed to help other customers whom actually respected me and I cannot take people swearing at me for no logical reason, telling me to get out of Canada. In return? They fucking reported me to the supervisor for being rude. The supervisor came by and at that point I was on the verge of a meltdown. I barely held back the tears (curses for being sensitive). The white couple, sastified by the appearance of the supervisor, left. The supervisor told me they wanted to file a complaint against the company due to me. Fortunately, the supervisor told the racists that she was too busy and apologized on my behalf. She was willing to hear my side of the story and told me to be careful next time, also that there are rude and racist customers all the time. She attempted to make me feel better.
I am thankful that the supervisor in charge today is one whom I’m friends with, and understands my personality. She told me not to worry, which wasn’t too comforting, given the fact that I was scared of being reported, on top with the shock of being harassed to the extent of holding back tears at work. I try really hard at work, I’ve even learned some Mandarin ( I speak Cantonese) to help Mandarin customers understand their shopping. I am never late, nor skip. I don’t ask for days off or to change shifts even when I am sick with a fever. Despite being a cashier, I take it seriously and I put effort into it. I am really upset because I don’t want my hard work to go to waste by two people whom enjoyed hurting me. My goal is to work there for one full year at least but I am at my edge. I’ve had customers throw shopping carts because their checkout items were too expensive, drunk customers fighting, items or bags thrown at me because customers hated the price/ didn’t want the item, verbal harassment … now add racial insults at which if I don’t respond to them, I get reported to the company.
I am extra scared and stressed because this is my first real job and I want to leave on a good note. I hope by tomorrow it will all be forgotten. I’ve held the tears back and cried back home. I need to remind myself not to care when people try to hurt me but I can’t help feeling like a terrible person. I keep thinking what I could have done better, but I don’t think there is a proper way to deal with racial insults and smile politely while on the job. Hang in there, Amanda, you can make the 1 year mark … 2 months to go!
(P.S.: Thank you M.C. for checking on me, I am grateful for your patience … and Happy Anniversary).