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Front Page » March 29, 2005 » Opinion » Discrimination hurts people, businesses and the whole cou...
Published 3,439 days ago

Discrimination hurts people, businesses and the whole country


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

Recently a friend of mine took her car to a quickie oil change place in Salt Lake to get the vehicle serviced. When she got her car in line the service manager told her that the waiting room was being remodeled, and that she could either go to a nearby restaurant and have something to eat while her car was being worked on or she could sit on one of a few chairs that were situated just outside the bay doors of the operation.

At present my friend is temporarily hobbled by some bad knees and she uses a cane. She opted to sit outside in the cold wind and just outside the touch of the rain that was coming down because she couldn't walk across the parking lot to the eating establishment the manager had suggested. She sat down for a few minutes and soon another car pulled up with what she described as a very cute and young girl in it. She too wanted to have the oil in her car changed. The manager also brought her out to the same spot where my middle aged friend was seated and the girl sat down. Then something strange happened.

Within five minutes one of the young men from the service bay came out and said to the girl that it "is too wet and cold out here so bring your chair in the bay and sit and watch us where you will be warm."

He made no such offer to my friend sitting next to the girl on another chair, who was just as cold and wet. My friend took it in stride and once the vehicle was finished she drove away.

I doubt she will ever do business there again.

Now if that had happened in Price somewhere, I'm sure in the next couple of days I would be getting a call from some establishment that was in the process of remodeling their waiting room, largely because everyone would know which business it was that had done this. They would be very worried about their business reputation. But in the world of the big Wasatch Front what I write has little effect.

But a call like that is when I would get really concerned.

No one wants bad publicity, but the real question here isn't about business, although treating customers bad or differently from each other is no way to run an establishment. The question is about ethics, not money.

Regardless of how good looking the young lady in the story was, I have to ask how an employee of a company could avoid making an offer of a seat inside to all those seated outside.

The young man involved obviously was raised with no manners. But that doesn't preclude the company involved from giving direction to employees about how they should treat people. Apparently the company has no manners either.

I told my friend that she should have talked to the manager or at least called back afterwards and told him about it. But she said she would do her telling with her pocketbook, by not spending money there anymore.

Actually as I talked I realized I was madder than she was about the situation. While she didn't voice it I got the impression that that kind of behavior is just what she has come to expect out of people who deal with her, particularly as she has gotten older and older.

The action of one employee, acting in his own interest instead of the companies, could ultimately cost this service center and others in the chain a lot of money.

I now know the name of the chain, and I know I will never go there, and neither probably will other people she tells.

Businesses do get a lot of irritating customers, who almost aren't worth dealing with considering what must be done to make them happy. But when businesses have employees that go out of their way to make a customer mad who is just minding her own business, it can be a death knell for that establishment.

It's a sad commentary on our supposedly enlightened times when people judge others primarily on their age, appearance and physical condition.

It's just plain wrong.


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March 29, 2005
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