Christmas had me at a loss this year. Money is tight and shopping is hard with a toddler in tow and there was so much going on in the last few months that gifting wasn’t so high on my list of priorities. But I did get a pretty sweet discount offer on my Target Cartwheel app! For a Fitbit! And that’s a gadget, right, so maybe my husband would be into it.
But knowing nothing about Fitbits, I thought I best check it out first. So one day, kidless, I spent some time in the electronics department reading all the Fitbit signage and trying to figure out if this whoosie was even worth my 40% discount. Turns out, no, no it was not. But that’s not the point of this story.
I asked the salesman if he could help me and pointed to the locked Fitbits over yonder. Dude was tall and skinny, probably in his early 20s and definitely thought of himself as smarter than your average bear. He says, “Let me guess, you want the pink one?”
I’m a small woman. I am often mistaken for being younger than I am. But I’m not seven, and I’m not wearing unicorn barrettes in my pigtails, so WHO do you think you’re talking to? I’m not usually one to engage with idiots, especially those who are strangers–I generally prefer to walk away and spend my energy more wisely–but it was so out of left field. Like, here’s an adult woman customer asking for assistance in electronics and the first thing out of your mouth is an antiquated assumption of preference based on color because women are incapable of judging products on any other factor? Or was it a sexist assertion of dominance over the little lady? Or was it a passive aggressive dig at a stupid customer because retail is just such very hard work?
Either way, no. No, I am not having that. No, that is not appropriate customer service. Just no, sir. No.
So I scrunched up my little eyebrows, cocked my head and said, “Why would you say that? Why would you assume I want pink?” and let him stumble over his tongue for a while trying to apologize or back-peddle or do whatever he needed to do to complete the sale.
After that, we actually had a very productive conversation, comparing models and features until I ultimately decided that my husband would probably prefer to decide on his own features (and that he’d want more than I could pay for). I thanked him for his time and his helpful advice and he actually looked me in the eye and apologized sincerely for the pink remark.
Maybe that dude was a jackass. Maybe he was having a bad day. But I was happy that I didn’t let it go. And I was happy that I didn’t lose my temper and badmouth him. Instead, I forced him to see me as a person and recognize his own mistake. I think it was an important lesson for both of us.
Challenging assumptions is one of those thingies on my list of “things to get better at.”