We set out on a journey yesterday to visit the Apple Store at the Plaza Galleria in St. Louis, Missouri. I needed a new iPhone and we decided that the best place to procure one was from the company that makes it. After a two hour plus car ride, we arrived. The first thing that we noticed was the long line of customers to check in with the friendly sales associates who were dutifully carrying iPads and logging in the customers in as to their place in the Que.
The store was packed! After a few minutes of browsing we found two vacant seats at a table that was surrounded by people doing Apple business. We had been told that our wait would be fifteen or twenty minutes and that is about how long that we waited.
Soon a young woman began searching through the crowd with a quizzical look on her face. I had speculated how the initial person that logged us in specified on his iPad what to look for when searching for Jay? Could it be that he noted a grey beard and a pot belly? Or would he note: a Tilley Hat and two gaudy rings? Or perhaps he would just place in the comments: OLD!
In any case finally our Apple expert made eye contact with me and I pointed to her and smiled and she responded, ‘Jay?’
We have shopped at Apple stores before and it has always been a pleasure! The staff is highly trained and energetic and customer friendly! Our helper not only helped me determine what iPhone that I wanted but also assisted me in transferring all of my applications and photos that were on my current iPhone to my new iPhone. Why, they even have a machine that expertly places a screen protector on your phone without error!
And so we sat down at the table that our personal shopper asked us to sit at. Among the people that were sitting there, before us, was an older man who asked if he could listen in to the instructions that we were being given as he had the same questions? We assured him that would be fine.
He remarked regarding our similarity in age and that we were just purchasing iPhones to stay in touch with our kids. He identified with and treated us in a friendly and familiar manner.
There was also an Asian man sitting next to me and speaking on his phone regarding the difficulty that he had encountered with an Apple product.
As we were being assisted I was interrupted by loud talking between the man that was listening to the explanation that we were receiving and the Asian man next to me.
The old caucasian man told the Asian man, ‘Could you be quite or go to another table to make your call…you are interrupting my hearing the comments of the Apple employee?’
The Asian man responded, ‘I do not care if you can not hear…I have as much right to be here as you do!’
After each party telling the other, on numerous occasions, that the other was, ‘very rude,’ the Asian gentleman moved to another table and the Caucasian man called out to him, ‘Go eat some fish heads!’
We were shocked as the racist comment that came from the Caucasian man and it was vitriolic! First, the young woman that was waiting on us was not waiting on the Caucasian man. Secondly the Asian man had as much right to be doing his Apple business in the Apple store as the Caucasian man did!
I have reflected much on what I witnessed. Bias and prejudice and racist comments are becoming more and more a part of the open and accepted conversation in the United States and it is a dark road that will lead to destruction and death!
The confusion and pain and hurt that was on the Asian man’s face was real and illustrative of the cruelty of bullying and racism!