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I wish I was quicker with the clever reply

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authenticnow posted 9/25/2013 14:09 PM

***This is not meant to be a religious post***

Today at work I was having a friendly conversation with a customer that I talk to whenever she comes in. She's a woman in her 70s-ish, and she was with her daughter/ 40s-ish.

She mentions moving and I said 'Oh good, you sold your house! That seems like it took a long time!'

And the daughter says,'Yeah, they kept trying to Jew us down. You know how they are, they're all like that. This one has all her money stashed away in Jersey somewhere'.

It stopped me in my tracks. I got a sick feeling in my stomach and just got very sad. It actually ruined my day. I replied, 'Well, I'm glad you got your house sold' and then walked away.

When people say things like that, I freeze up. I am terrible on the spot. I was so angry, and so discouraged that there are people who talk and think this way.

I told LD what happened and how discouraged I was. I said, 'There is no diversity here. I don't want to live in a place where people think this way'. He said that there are ignorant people everywhere and that people are mostly good, and let's hope that this woman and her daughter are the exception not the norm. Unrealistic? I'm not sure. I hope not.

I'm just wondering what anyone would have said in response, instead of freezing up like I did. Not to mention I was at work and this was a customer.

On the bright side, I was helping another customer today and he said, 'You are always so helpful. You are the nicest person who works here'.

nowiknow23 posted 9/25/2013 14:16 PM

I don't know that there is a clever reply that would find its mark and leave an impact on a narrow mind. I think I would have reacted in the moment exactly as you did, an. And it would have left me feeling sick, too.

I'm so sorry you were on the receiving end of her ignorance.

aesir posted 9/25/2013 14:20 PM

I think the being at work part kinda carries an obligation to just deal with it. I can remember telling staff that the fastest way to get rid of an annoying customer was to sell them their shit so they could leave.

If it's any consolation on a personal level, I have found that many people who use such bigoted phrases casually do so without even thinking about the bigoted origin of the phrase, they have just been using it so long it never occurs to them to think.

LD is right about the ignorant people everywhere, and diversity is no cure for ignorance, you just get to experience all the particular flavors. In general, a lot of people suck, thankfully not you or the last customer you described.

Pentup posted 9/25/2013 14:27 PM

If it's any consolation on a personal level, I have found that many people who use such bigoted phrases casually do so without even thinking about the bigoted origin of the phrase, they have just been using it so long it never occurs to them to think.

I think this is true. I grew up with a lot of these. Honestly, did not know that they could be offensive. Ignorance is ignorance. Sometimes that can be addressed with a simple comment of, "that phrase is offensive to me."

Her additional comments makes me think this is not the case here.

I am sorry AN. I live in the south and hear Yankee comments all the time even by good friends. I have a few comments I have developed over time to deal depending on the situation. Including, "can't we all just get along?" Sometimes that makes people think about what they just said.
Sometimes it does not.

Deeply Scared posted 9/25/2013 14:27 PM


'You are always so helpful. You are the nicest person who works here'.

And I can back that up by saying you're one of the nicest people I've ever met

I'm sorry her comments hurt your feelings....those types of things are wrong on so many levels.

authenticnow posted 9/25/2013 14:41 PM

If it's any consolation on a personal level, I have found that many people who use such bigoted phrases casually do so without even thinking about the bigoted origin of the phrase, they have just been using it so long it never occurs to them to think.
To me this is the saddest and scariest part. That this kind of attitude is so normal, so acceptable, that it's not even considered offensive.

My life is full of ironies. One of them being is that my other job is for a non profit mental health agency and it is the most politically correct, culturally competent and aware agency I've ever seen. I just went to our annual cultural competency training and we learned all about this (as we do every year), and the speaker actually did part of his presentation on phrases that might be considered offensive. 'Jew down' wasn't on there, but it might as well have been.

So, I go from this wonderful agency where everyone is treated respectfully, to a job where people have this attitude. My old boss once said to one of the women who had just gotten a really short haircut-"I didn't know we had a dike working here." I couldn't believe it. I wish I had the nerve to report him.

So now I'm just venting and going off on a tangent.

I hope I can find it in myself next time someone says something like that to say, 'I find that comment offensive'. I have found my voice in so many ways...maybe one day I'll get all the way there .

jo2love posted 9/25/2013 16:33 PM


Having someone say that while you are at work puts you in a tough situation. If it was outside of work, you could have said how you felt.

I may have been tempted to say, "I'm not sure I understand what you mean" or change the subject slightly by saying "I can't believe it's almost October. I'm looking forward to celebrating Hanukkah."

I'm sorry you had to be near this oaf.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 4:33 PM, September 25th (Wednesday)]

jrc1963 posted 9/25/2013 16:56 PM


Even now, sitting here, I can't think of a good comment to come back at this bigot with.

My baser instinct is to punch her in the face... And since I can't be charged for battery by giving a cyber punch to an unknown bigot... That's just what I'm going to do.

*Pow* There ya go... I punched her for you.

I'm sorry you had to endure this... I'm glad you had a nice compliment today too.

LosferWords posted 9/25/2013 16:57 PM


No clever or witty reply here. That sucks that you had to hear that crap. Apparently this customer of yours has no qualms about openly displaying her ignorance. What a pitiful person.

Take comfort in the fact that you are a much more beautiful person than her, inside and out. Ask LD. I'm sure he'd agree with me.

Jpapageorge posted 9/25/2013 16:59 PM

Next time your new favorite customer comes in you might just smile and greet her with "As-salamu alaykum" and at the end of the transaction send her along with a cheery "shalom aleichem."
(Is it obvious that I am not suited for any customer service job? )

metamorphisis posted 9/25/2013 17:10 PM

Oh AN,
I hear you. I freeze when I hear stuff like that and afterwards I have so many better things I could have said than "uh..uh..uh.."
I don't think that way so it always shocks me that other people do. Like I forget it exists because it's so far from my reality.

authenticnow posted 9/25/2013 17:12 PM

You all made me smile. Thank you.

And being here makes me know for sure that there are much more nice people in the world than assholes.

Sad in AZ posted 9/25/2013 17:27 PM

I'm sorry, AN. Next time tell them your rabbi doesn't think that's very nice.

deeplysad posted 9/25/2013 18:44 PM

I would have said: "Shalom - have a good rest of your day".

I wear a Star of David that is hard to miss, and I've still had people use phrases like that around me...I just try to be sad for them and their ignorance.

yewtree posted 9/25/2013 18:52 PM

Go out and buy them a small housewarming gift for the first holiday season in their new home... A menorah for the window.

I work for a place that has alot of Native American programs, art work, etc. A staff member once commented on someone "going on the war path" about something.

I quietly corrected him and he first did Then he apologized profusely. Then we all had an interesting conversation about where those comments come from, and how we just don't think about it until we get called on it.

One can only hope she will be enlightened by someone who is sensitive to her "mistaken" bigotry, and that she chooses her words more carefully in the future.

I think that since you were at work you handled it just right.

lost_in_toronto posted 9/25/2013 19:50 PM

I might have asked her to clarify who 'they' were. Just to try to get her thinking, which probably wouldn't have worked.

It is hard to handle something like that in the workplace. Not at work, I would probably say something like, 'I'm sure you didn't mean that to sound racist, but it really did.' I really hate being made to feel complicit in that kind of hatred. I think people get away with it a lot because we are so uncomfortable and shocked when we hear it. But again, at work and in a customer service situation, your hands are kind of tied.

[This message edited by lost_in_toronto at 7:51 PM, September 25th (Wednesday)]

authenticnow posted 9/25/2013 19:52 PM

I don't think that way so it always shocks me that other people do. Like I forget it exists because it's so far from my reality.
That's exactly it.

I thought of a clever response while I was in the shower. I should have said, "I must have missed the memo that says the Jews have all the money. If I did, I wouldn't be working at this crappy minimum wage job dealing with ignorant people like you!"

metamorphisis posted 9/25/2013 20:00 PM

going on the war path

And there you go. I didn't ever give any thought to where that came from and I am sure I have used it. I just took it to mean I was out to start something and was angry. My mouth literally just hung open.. I had no idea.
But I'm glad I know now.

Lionne posted 9/25/2013 21:01 PM

It's funny, but I think I first heard this phrase from my father, a Jew. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized how offensive it is and for what reason. He certainly was proud of his heritage and didn't use it literally. But, then again, he used other, equally offensive terms, not realizing their origins or ugliness.
My dad was an immigrant who never completed grade school but managed to learn and change his habits and speech when he learned about offending phrases.
It's possible your customer really needs to be educated...

I'm editing this because I just reread your post...never mind, her comments weren't just those of a woman using a phrase ignorantly, they were those of an out and out BIGOT. Yeah, we are all hiding or money here in Joisey. Stupid idiot...Sorry you had to hear that, honey. I experienced my share of antisemitic actions. It hurts, but think how much worse it would be to have to LIVE IN their skin...

[This message edited by scaredyKat at 9:06 PM, September 25th (Wednesday)]

sad12008 posted 9/25/2013 21:42 PM

Just wanted to commiserate, an. It's especially difficult when it's someone you have otherwise friendly contact with (or in this case, the person's associate). Nails on a chalkboard upsetting.

I'm a fish out of water where we moved, same deal with the lack of diversity; I'm routinely appalled at some of the stuff I encounter. Feelin' your pain!

My mindset has become that I hope I may on occasion become the educable moment, the challenge to the bigoted, thoughtless "thinking". I won't be the person laughing along.

I think in the instance you described, you handled it as well as anyone could! The customer/workplace dynamic was a hobbler for sure. It's hard enough to navigate such situations when it's a purely social relationship.

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