"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Those of you who are friends of mine on Facebook already know of the upsetting experience I had this past week at a local art supply store.

I went to the shop to take advantage of a sale. At the checkout counter, the young man who'd been waiting on me rang up the sale and neglected to apply the 40% discount to which I was entitled. When I asked him about it, he seemed annoyed and told me I needed to buy a minimum of four items in order to get the sale price. I knew he was wrong, but let a co-worker who was standing nearby go ahead and correct him. The guy was embarrassed and complained that "no one ever tells me what's going on around here." He rung up my sale again. I looked at the total and asked him to recheck it, since it still seemed off to me. At that point, he was really annoyed and said:

"Look, lady, I'm not trying to JEW you or anything."

I kind of knew in my heart that he was heading in this direction as as soon as he opened his mouth. I figured he'd say "Gyp you." I was prepared to urge him to reconsider his choice of words, explaining that using the word "gyp" in this context is a derogatory term insinuating that Gypsies are swindlers.

But when he said "Jew you" I was flabbergasted. I actually couldn't say anything at first. He might as well have slapped me across the face.

The words really stung.

I did my best to gather myself, then informed the young man that what he just said to me was hurtful and totally out of line. He said he was sorry.

I was shaking when I got back to my car.

The responses I got on Facebook when I updated my status to reveal what had happened ranged from "the guy probably didn't know what he was saying" all the way up to "he should be fired." Several people simply said they were sorry it happened.

I'm sorry it happened, too. And I don't believe there are any excuses for it. It was slur tossed in my direction because the guy was annoyed, embarrassed and frustrated. By putting me down, he felt better about himself. Sadly, I've experienced enough antisemitism in my life to know what it looks and feels like.


Anonymous said...

Did you ever talk to the store owner, Gloria?

Gloria Baker Feinstein said...

I called the owner the next day. He listened patiently, then told me he was sorry and that he would speak to the guy.