Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Out of Love II: God Loves You

Back in January, I posted a blog entry titled "Out of Love," which detailed a customer at the bookstore where I work giving me a DVD featuring a Trans-reparative preacher.  Trans-reparative therapy has been proven not only to not work, but also to cause suicide in many cases.

I was upset, and informed the bookstore management about the incident.

That was two months ago.

Corporate got back to the store management with a plan: I was to have no discussions with this customer, and to avoid contact if possible.  Fair enough.  Even the District Manager, who has his office in our store, was involved.  As I said in the last piece on this topic, the Bookstore management has been extremely supportive of my transition.

And that was fine.

At work on a better day

Then a few weeks later, I was working the Customer Service desk, and this same customer, let's designate her by the initials "BT," asked me about a certain magazine, which I helped her find.  She asked about a second magazine, but we didn't have that.  She then brought up the DVD.  I told her I couldn't discuss that, and walked away.  I went directly to the break room, and informed the two managers who were on duty exactly what happened.

Now these two managers knew me back before transition- after all, I helped train them when they started as fellow drones before their promotions.  How did they react to these events?

Well, we went into the managers' office and closed the door.  I sat in a corner chair with them sitting at my 10 and 2 o'clocks.  And they started hammering me for even speaking to her.  One after the other, sometimes in stereo, about how I screwed up the plan; there's nothing they can do because I spoke to her; how it's all my fault.

They didn't exactly say that last bit- that's just how I felt.

And I told them so.

So, they asked me what I wanted done, given that I had screwed up the carefully laid plan sent down from on-high by, you know, doing my job.  At that point, I was so upset and frustrated that I was about to just hand them my nametag and walk out.  I felt like I was being victim-shamed.

So, the one manager went out to speak to BT, and tell her not to give the staff any gifts; that I was deeply insulted and hurt, etc.  At least that's what I'm told he said.  I stayed back in the break room.  Another incident report was filed.

And a day or so later, I sat down with the head manager to discuss the event.  I pointed out exactly how I felt about the events of that day.  But nothing concrete was hashed out.  I was told that if I saw her, I had permission to leave the floor immediately.  Abandon my post.

So.  Friday March 18, approximately 3:30 PM.  We were shorthanded due to two call outs.  I was alone at the registers, which is pretty common.  The register at which I was working has a big gift card display in front of it which creates a blind spot at my 1 o'clock, if you can grasp that.  I had a customer in front of me with three children all under five and all out of control.  I finished with them, and turned to call for the next customer (there was a line of four people that I could see) when BT stepped out of the blind spot.  I recognized her, and rung up her purchase silently.

She leaned in and said "You know I'm your friend right?  God Loves you.  God loves you."

I looked her in the eye, and said "I cannot discuss this," finished her transaction and signaled for the next customer.

As BT walked away she turned back to me and said "God loves you" again.

I took maybe five minutes or so to work through the line.  I then called the manager on duty.  This manager is an assistant store manager (ASM,) second in command of the store.  She's also been at our store for less than a week.  I don't know much about her, but she seems nice.  But the point is, she wasn't aware of the situation between BT and I.  I told her what happened.  And at that point, my relief showed up, and I went on break.  The manager asked to speak to me about the issue when my break was finished.  While I was on break, I texted the head manager about the incident.

Fifteen minutes later, I was back in the managers' office with the door closed.  The new ASM had reviewed the files on this person, and the two incident reports already filed.  I told her exactly what happened.  She re-iterated that I could leave my post when I saw BT.  I pointed out that 1) I was alone at register, with a line, and 2) abandoning my post isn't how I operate.  I am paid to do my job.

An incident report was filed- the third on this particular person.

After the store closed, I went back to the apartment and cried.

The next day, I spoke to the head manager in person.  I re-iterated what I told the ASM, and I told her that I felt like I was in a no-win situation.  Yesterday, she told me that the District Manager wanted to speak to me the next day.

That was today.

So when I was given time to do so, I knocked on the DM's door.  We spoke about what happened, and he told me that he was waiting for guidance from the Head office.  That maybe, just maybe, the Store manager will be allowed to contact BT and invite her in for coffee and to discuss not speaking to me again.

So, for now, nothing is happening.

I made it clear to the store manager and District manager that I will not abandon my post if I am alone.  That's not fair to the customers who come to our store to purchase books or whatever.

So, how do I feel?

Hung out to dry.

I feel vulnerable.  BT will not stop harassing me, nor do I believe she will listen to reason.  So maybe I should just shut up and Take it.  Stiff Upper Lip and all that.  "Man up."  I mean, after all, I screwed everything up, remember?  It's all my fault.

But I shouldn't have to.  What if she were harassing someone for being black?  Or gay?  Or Jewish?

See my point?

This situation is still developing.  Maybe it will turn out for the best.  I know my Store manager is in my corner.  I know she WANTS this resolved.  What do I want?  I want to not to have to deal with BT again in the store.  But that won't happen.  She's a paying, regular customer, and in the end, I'm just a replaceable cog in the machine.

So right now, I'm sitting at my keyboard, typing in what I wrote longhand.  It's 1:23 in the morning.  I've cried enough tears tonight.

Be well.


  1. Sophie -

    If I were there in person, I'd ask you some politically incorrect questions to make sure that your own mental state wasn't being affected by external influences. But after that, I'd say that you are doing the right thing - not abandoning your post while others are on line. This woman knows you won't abandon your post and is taking advantage of it. And your management is looking for ways that you can do your job, yet deal with this person themselves. Don't worry about being a cog in the wheel - they would have dismissed you already if they didn't want you..... Just find a way to get help - even if it means temporarily abandoning the post before she reaches you (but apologize to the next person on line).....


  2. You did the right thing. Your managers and hq approach to this is stupid. They should have commended you and actually tried to understand if there is a pattern when she shows up and make sure there is added staff. Shame on them

  3. I work for this company too. And management could ban her for harrassment. Our store trespasses people who shoplift, panhandle, and verbally harrass staff! It shouldn't be tolerated. I hope your managers grow a collective backbone soon.

    1. For the record, the Store management is on my side. They just want to make sure all I's are dotted and T's are crossed, as we are in a rich area, and rich folk are very litigious. They have plenty of backbone- that is not the issue here.

      It's a matter of waiting for orders. And biting my tongue.

    2. Also. in this age of bigotry being called "Religious freedom" by the right wing, I think they expect, as I do, a backlash from local churches.

  4. I ndon't see this as any different from the 'nom jojuringe' bunch running around local airports in saffron dress or robes, or the Jehovah's Witnesses passing out their pamphlets. What is the big deal?

    They are essentially a harmless PITA

    1. Would you feel the same if they were insulting a person's race? If they were harassing someone for their religion?

      THAT'S why it's a big deal.

  5. Sophie- I'm a manager at a certain bookstore chain. And the way those two managers treated you was flat out wrong. I've been following your blog posts about this, and believe me, I'd have a few words to say to Little Miss Jesus Loves You. Nobody -NOBODY- is allowed to treat my booksellers that way. I don't care if she's a regular or not- I've banned regulars before for harassing employees, and that's exactly what this is, harassment. You're not a cog, and you're certainly not replaceable- you're a member of our bookselling family, and I for one have got your back.