Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dealing With Parent Discrimination

I've mentioned this before, but I'm a fairly laid back guy.  I don't get my feathers ruffled very often, and on those rare occasion I do,  give me 10 minutes and I have forgotten about what ever it was.  I'm sure that over time this has served me fairly well, especially in the blood pressure department.

But something happened today that really irked me.  And the more I thought about it the more bothered by it I became.  Mrs. LIAYF had a weekend work project to finish, so I took Lukas out for some father/son bonding time.  We decided to go for a bike ride up and down a boardwalk near home.  It was a great morning with lots of sunshine and spectacular views. Then when we were finished, we stopped off to lunch at our favorite fast food coffee Shop 

Now, I've posted before about our affinity for this particular coffee chain, but It was at this location where the events that bothered me transpired.  The line there wasn't too long, but Lukas and I waited our turn patiently.   Then it was our turn to order, we made our selections.  Since we were having a full lunch we had to make more of a selection than just drinks.  I grabbed a fruit cup, a sandwich, a granola bar, a couple of treats, an Odwalla juice and a coffee.  I think I asked Lukas once if he would rather have a cocoa than the juice.  He declined.  We also took a brief moment to choose a the sandwich. 

All the while the cashier, a youngish guy avoided eye contact, gritted his teeth, and spoke in very short tones to me.  It became more pronounced when I asked him to put money on my card, then pay for it with the newly loaded card.  It was pretty obvious he was doing all he could to keep himself bottled up.  But, this whole transaction didn't take more than 2 minutes, tops.   Probably less.  Someone in the line ahead of us had also taken a bit of time placing their order as well.  I didn't care.

Oddly enough, for the first time since becoming a parent, I had the distinct feeling that I was the recipient of this guys ire because I had my kid with me.  It wasn't a good feeling.  Then, to top it all off, once I was done the cashier slid the next guy in line his drip coffee and loudly proclaimed "This one's on me!  I insist.  Thank you for your patience!"

Then I felt insulted.  It would have been different if I had actually taken an extraordinary amount of time, but like I mentioned this wasn't a long transaction.  Plus I had just bought $25 worth of their food.   But, I decided to try to forget about it and enjoy the lunch.  And Lukas and I did just that, having nice chat about our day and our bike ride.

But, as we were finishing up I noticed that that same cashier was having a problem.  Apparently he had entered something incorrectly while taking an order and he couldn't get it figured out.  He proceeded to call every other cashier over, including the manager while the line was held up and growing longer.  A couple of minutes later (literally), it was to the door, no one was being served, and the cashier was smiling widely as he tried to assure the customers in line that they would be served soon.

Finally, they resolved the issue and began serving the other customers.  That incident took at least 5 times as long as my transaction, probably more.  But I didn't see any free drinks being handed out.  This bothered me all over again.  Thankfully, I recognized the manager.  He had been transferred there from the coffee house near my work, where I was a long time customer.  As we were leaving, he saw me, smiled, and asked how I was doing.

"Not bad." I replied, taking a breath "But I want to tell you about the experience I just had...."

Tell me parents.  How often does this type of parent discrimination happen to you, and do you let it bother you?

Would you have said something to the manager?


Alaska DAD said...

Kids with me or not I HATE bad customer service. Now that I have kids I REALLY HATE customer service! What I would have done is asked to see the manager right after the customer behind you got a free coffee. Why is the cashier in such a rush? Really. He is going to make the same money regardless of how long transactions take. I had a similar situation at REI and did not call the cashier on it at in the moment. I wrote a letter to corporate and waited about 3 weeks. Then I emailed the same letter and in about 3 days I got some lame-ass response from the store manager. I think my recourse would have been much better in the moment. Discriminating against families sucks and I DO NOT stand for it when it happens to me. I hope you were honest with that manager and he was responsive.

James (SeattleDad) said...

@AlaskaDad - Yes, I quietly told him what had happened and that it was pretty insulting, while Lukas was throwing away the garbage a few feet away. I left it at that. Didn't ask for any retribution. Really, I didn't care about that, I just wanted someone to explain to that guy that that is not an acceptable way to treat customers. It was obvious that the time we took was exaggerated in his mind because of something. The only thing being that it could have been was I had my 4yo with me.

J-Tony said...

LIAYF- We a form of this often being a family of 5. Hostess's always want to just "add" a chair to a table of 4 for us, and make is seem like they can't believe we would actually have 3 kids? How dare us? 5 people sitting at a table for 4 is not enjoyable. We've only actully done it a few times. Now as the kids get older, when they go to seat us, they MUST pull a table over that will fit us all, or we'll wait.

Hey Monkey Butt said...

Good for you! I'd like to say I'd want to say something, because I would want to. i'm a total weiny though, I would just brush it off. Like everything else. Story of my life! :)

Diplo_Daddy said...

I think you handled the situation well. Maybe the guy was having a bad day, who knows. But he shouldn't take it out on you...Joe the customer. I agree, you should have been treated with more respect.

I trust the store manager had a polite but firm discussion with his employee. But hey, at least the food was good!

Lady Mama said...

That is not cool. I think you were pretty calm - I probably would have asked the young guy if there was a problem (but then my tendency to react is not always a good thing). Good for you for saying something to the manager. I'm sure he doesn't want to lose customers over some attitude-y cashier.

James (SeattleDad) said...

@j-tony - Because, of course, kids don't count for anything right? That's pretty frustrating. Good for you for waiting them out now.

@Monkey - That would be my normal MO, but I was a bit irked about this one so didn't want to let it slide this time.

@Diplo_daddy - Yeah, he was probably having a bad day, but he was only taking it out on us. We were definitely getting the brunt of his bad mood because he couldn't relate to the fact that I had a boy with me.

@Lady Mama - Yeah, I seem to be reaching point where I am more likely to call people on that kind of stuff. Maybe because I am a father now.

John said...

If I knew the Manager?


SMHDVM said...

I would have said something to the clerk. Something that would be polite but be aimed at making him feel shamed. Because I am not above that. My daughter was around 7 months old and she was crying in a with plastic table covers where the average meal costs $ mos def not upscale. This was a neighborhood place and they had seen my husband and I on our first date, through our newly wed time, all the way through my pregnancy and had seen my daughter from the first times we could take her out to dinner.
This particular time, she was crying, which was unusual for her. A man and woman, who had come in after us (and had not yet ordered) got up and stormed out. On the way out the door, the man leans over and says, "Thank you for a miserable dinner."

My inappropriate response? "Yeah, well, my dad died today and we are just trying to grab a quick dinner before having to plan his funeral. I hope your night is better than ours."

Was it true? Nope. But it easily could have been for someone. And I think that mere anger would have made him feel justified. As it stood, he looked shaken...and I was glad. It is nice to stuff a rag in the mouth of a vocal asshole every now and then.