In part 1 of ‘Is it a black thing?… Is it a woman thing? Or is it just me?‘ my girl Paula looked into an incident where she was ignored (at a professional event by a salesperson) which had her questioning if her race (black) and gender (woman) had an impact on the incident.
Unfortunately, I experienced a somewhat similar incident recently, which had me questioning what effect, if any, my identity as a black women had to play on the situation.
I’ll start from the beginning. My mum had sent me on a couple of errands for her upcoming trip to Nigeria….. (lucky me)! Anyway whilst getting the items for her never-ending shopping list, I decided to use the opportunity to get myself a couple of new blouses well in advance for my new job starting later in the month – I really felt so organised! But alas, my organisation didn’t quite go as smoothly as I’d hoped.
This particular store that I went into (I won’t be petty and name and shame) did not have changing rooms?! So I decided to buy the three blouses I had in mind, try them on in a different store which did provide changing rooms and if any didn’t look right I’d return them. Simple right? Well……
I walked into the next store and headed into the changing rooms. After trying on three of the blouses, I decided I wanted two out of the three as the third didn’t fit right. I confidently walked back into the original store with my receipt and explained that I’d like to return one of the blouses as it didn’t fit well.
The salesperson seemed ‘confused’ and asked me what I meant. I repeated slowly that I wanted to return one of the tops (thinking in my head how difficult can it be?) and emphasized that I had my receipt.
She then asked if I had the other blouses I’d bought on me. I wondered why she was asking this and needed to see the blouses, but complied. I opened my bag and showed her the other two blouses. At this point, I asked if there was a problem? To which she responded, that the blouse I was asking to return didn’t ‘match’ any of the three codes of the items on my receipt. I explained that couldn’t be possible, I’d bought the blouses in the store less than half an hour ago – the price of the blouse I was asking to return matched the price of one of the items on the receipt.
She claimed that she couldn’t verify that as the blouse didn’t have a price tag, I told her there were plenty of the exact same blouse on the shop floor which had a price tag on and would clearly prove the price matched. She asked if I would mind finding the blouse on the shop floor to prove this. I responded that I would mind actually, if she wanted to verify the price she could retrieve the blouse herself. Alternatively, I suggested she had a look at the store CCTCV which would show I’d bought the blouse just less than half an hour ago or ask to speak to her colleague who had literally just served me, less than half an hour ago.
She had no response to this and continued to gaze at the receipt in ‘confusion’ whilst explaining she couldn’t go through with my refund if the codes didn’t match. I was baffled, and wondered why she was so suspicious of me. Then it crept into my mind, am I not credible in her eyes because I’m a black woman? Am I suspicious to her because I’m a black woman?
Well there’s no way to prove if that’s the case or not, and I’m not one to blame everything on race – also I refuse to allow being a black woman to become a negative, because I personally love being a black woman.
My patience was really running thin and I had to get things summed up as she was wasting my time, I asked ‘can you please process this refund, I have a receipt and don’t understand what the issue is?’ Lo and behold, the refund was processed after the back and forth, she apologised for the ‘mix up’ and she giggled nervously that she’d found the matching code. Hmmmm, side eye, eye roll, sighhhhh.
Keep your head high and remember that whilst we can’t definitively prove a situation is impacted by our race and/or gender, your gut feeling is not something to ignore.
Is it a black thing? Is it a woman thing? These are questions without a certain answer, but what is certain is that it’s not a personal thing, so never take it to heart. Brush it off and use these unfortunate situations as drive to continue being the best you!