Dear blog readers: I want to know your opinion. I was in a conversation last night that by all means did not turn into an argument at all, but I noted that during our discussion my friend, who is really a very good friend, and has always been highly supportive, seemed to repeatedly defend the actions of another person in a situation where my friend was not present.
There was a third person present during this conversation that altered the dynamics as well.
The three of us were inside a vehicle. The third person was driving. As you know, I am clumsy inside cars and usually can’t buckle the seatbelt nor find it so easily. So I was bumbling around with the seatbelt, trying to figure all that out while we were conversing. My friend was in the front passenger seat. Somehow, the topic of a particular past event came up.
I stated that in the past, I had walked into a convenience store, asked if they took food stamps, then, I was shamed by the cashier. Then, I finally got up the guts to write to an official about the experience since I have seen that happen at cash registers before. Because of the particulars of the situation (which were too technical to re-state in the converstion, since neither of these friends really knew the technicalities of food stamps, ha ha) I wasn’t able to explain the whole deal about how a food stamps card works and why the cashier should not have done what she did. I was also unable to fully explain that five minutes or less of training would have prevented the whole thing.
When 7-Eleven made the decision to aceept food stamps, they needed to tell their employees to not shame those that use the food stamps card. Do not judge people, just let them use the card. However, that’s not what happened. I was shamed, treated abruptly, told my card “didn’t work,” told I was “out of funds,” which was not true, and other incredibly rude remarks. I was told my card would be “locked” and I needed to “call them” right away, and the two cashiers used belittling language toward me. At the time I was extremely hungry.
It’s really hard to explain just how hungry a person gets after surviving extreme starvation from an eating disorder. In my little conversation with my friends, I didn’t bring up the fact that not long ago, I nearly starved to death. The body remembers.
In my written complaint about customer profiling and shaming over using a food stamps card, I did not say I survived anorexia, but I did say I had a medical condition and was extremely hungry at the time. I did describe how after I left the store I stood on the street corner and devoured the banana I had purchased with my credit card after my food stamps card had been refused.
I don’t understand why my friend took the cashier’s side repeatedly. After I said, “power of the pen,” she still wasn’t supportive the way I would expect a friend to be. I don’t get why she excused the cashier’s behavior. Except one thing: I wonder if she felt uncomfortable with my overall tone. I wonder if she was “excusing” my activist tone in the presence of the third friend, as a way of toning down the conversation. I wonder if she wanted me to look softer, or not so uppity.
From the way the third friend was acting, she was fully supportive of my writing to the authorities about profiling anyway. She said something about “corporate welfare” and I suspect she didn’t mind my activism at all.
I didn’t want the cashier to lose her job. What I asked in my communication was that the management of venues that take food stamps should educate their employees to treat all customers in a nondiscriminatory way. This is the law, by the way, and to teach employees this takes about five minutes. This is a management issue, not one with that particular employee. And it happened quite a while back.