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Racist and I still Got the Sale

July 28, 2022

Then there was the time when a guy came into the store wanting rubber over-shoes.

You don’t seem to see these much anymore. They were a black rubber boot that fit over the shoe with a zipper up the center. Great for rain or snow.

I was 17 at the time and had been working in the shoe store part-time about a year.

It was late in the day and the smell of alcohol was more than this guy’s perfume. I’m guessing he was in his forties.

I got him his boots. He sat in a chair and I sat on one of those stools that had a place for him to put his foot so I could help him on with the boot.

Yep, good service in the day. By the way, I wore a shirt and tie and nice slacks. My shoes were always clean and polished.

He asked the price and I told him, “$32.00.”

This was the mid 70’s. $32.00 wasn’t chump change.

He freaked, looked at me, and exclaimed, “$32.00! Is there any Jew in you!”

Oh, he said it.

Truth is, the boots were expensive, but he asked for them and this was an upscale shoe store.

I could feel the eyes of my manager standing behind the cash counter, on my neck. What was I going to do with this drunk racist sitting on a chair in front of me, his foot in our expensive boot, me being Jewish.

I answered him directly, “Yep, 100% Jewish.”

I added, “But that’s not the problem here.”

He looked quizzical. It was my manager who looked concerned.

I finished, “The guy serving you is Jewish and the store owner is Scottish. You’ve got two strikes against you!”

I figured if he was going to be racist, let’s put it all out there. I did deliver the sentence with a touch of humor.

A moment’s silence.

The guy spoke breaking the quiet that hung in the air. “I’ll take ’em,” he said.

His demeanor had changed. He knew he was called out but needed to save face.

I never knew if he truly wanted those black rubber over-shoes but it was a sale that came about peacefully in the end.

It was the last sale of the day.

My manager knew how angry I was for this guy’s racist comment.

As we locked up, he put his hand on my shoulder before we left.

That was it.

It was enough of an acknowledgement.

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I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

One Comment
  1. Thank you for sharing these reflective stories from your past Gary. Hope you are doing well in these uncertain COVID times

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