About eleven years ago, I had a rather unpleasant encounter in The Disney Store that still leaves my mind wandering and wondering – why did it happen? What could I have done differently to get a better reaction? Let me set up the stage for you:
I was working at the Disney Store at the time. Just to make it clear, our wages were based solely on how long we had been there and had nothing to do with our sales records. In other words, we were not driven by the promise of a commission.
Whenever I would walk around the store and talk to people about the products in the store it was because I was genuinely interested in the product and loved to meet other people with a similar passion, or to inspire it in others.
A woman who could not have been over thirty was walking around the store in a curious sort of manner. She seemed like she wasn’t sure what she was trying to find, so I naturally approached her and in my most ordinary voice (extremely friendly, that is) I asked her if there was something I could help her find.
Her response could not have been more terse or hostile. “No!” she snapped. She then added, as if for good measure, “If I wanted help, I certainly wouldn’t be getting it from A MAN!”
I could not fathom what use it was to tell me she would have possibly accepted help from a non-man. There were many people who worked in the store who earned the same salary as me and who would have been equally happy to help her and have their time preoccupied by her. She left soon after making this hostile statement and left no opportunity for a woman to offer her any assistance, or a person that otherwise was not a man.
In retrospect, I wish that I had said something along those lines — “I’ll see if I can find a person who isn’t a man to help you, then!” but my mind was too shocked by her seemingly unreasonable statement to go there.
What might you have said in those circumstances? Might it have been all about the commission?