What Would You Call It?

I walked into Subway. There was already one person in line ahead of me. The server said to him “What’ll you have?” He replied, “I’d like a salad.” So the server took out the salad bowl and then turned to me and asked, “Will you be having a sandwich?” I told him ‘yes’ and he proceeded to quickly ask me my bread/meat/cheese/toasted choices. As he turned to put my sandwich in the salamander, the person ahead of me in line walked out of the store. No words were exchanged but the server did call after him and he didn’t reply.

 

This is where the server and I were left. Did we just participate in a black man, feeling discriminated against, by a white server leave the store? Okay, maybe not because he was a black man but because he ordered a salad he was discriminated against. Did he not know that the salad station is further down the line and that the server was trying to be efficient. And, it’s more efficient to start my sandwich order and then go back to the salad order while mine is toasting. The server was just trying to handle two customers at once as best he could being alone in the store. Then again, the person leaving might have just changed his mind or decided to go to Panda Garden instead.

 

The server was certainly surprised when the customer-to-have-been walked out without a word. Then, too, the server hadn’t made any effort to communicate during the process what his intentions were. He had just turned to me and begun taking my order. The server and I talked for a minute about it. I asked him if he could see where the other person may have interpreted his actions as discrimination? Just throwing it out there kind of shocked the kid. I hope it was a learning moment for him.

 

If the shoe were on the other foot, would I have left? Would I have said something? What would I have felt?

 

What about you? Have you ever been a party to discrimination that really wasn’t?

 

1 Comment

  1. Wil C. Fry

    Interesting anecdote. I can’t put myself in a black man’s shoes, but just imagining that it was me who was in front of you, I probably would have been taken aback. Typically, you handle one customer at a time until they’re done, and don’t start helping the next person until the first one is finished. (I’m in Subway once a week or so; I’ve *never* had them leave someone in *front* of me waiting while they helped me.)

    So, yes, I think if I was part of a historically marginalized demographic, I might think it was discrimination, or at the very least poor customer service — based on what you said here.

    Reply

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