Equal, But Not Really

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Whole Foods? I really do. It feels as though some kind of happy gas is being pumped through the ventilation system because you can’t help but to feel completely euphoric while walking up and down the aisles. Even when I only plan to run in for a bottle of water and a container of curry chicken salad, I still take the time to peruse other areas of the store. I feel like my eyes need to touch everything in there, or else I’m not getting the complete Whole Foods experience.

I stopped in over the weekend for water, chicken salad and some weird yogurt probiotic drink that my husband likes. Not a huge shopping list, but it did get me into the store, which was my ultimate goal. I carried my basket of things to the register and waited for Nate to finish up with the yoga-pants-clad woman in front of me to ring out my order. When I stepped up to the register, Nate didn’t acknowledge me at all. No hello, did you find everything you were looking for, nada. He had a slight scowl on his face as he scanned my items.

Now, everyone is entitled to a bad day. Heck, I have more bad days than I care to count. I would probably use growling as a primary means of communication if I didn’t think it would result in an invocation of the Baker Act. But I don’t think Nate was having a bad day. He was perfectly friendly to the yoga mom, and wished her a nice day as he handed her a receipt. But I didn’t get a hello. Not a have a nice day when he handed my change back to me. Not a single word. After having skipped happily up and down the aisles, this killed my chi like a scratched CD at a house party. I hung around the register for a second out of curiosity. I wanted to see if the woman behind me received the same treatment. Guess what? She was given the courtesy of a hello. So very frequently, I am astounded by employees who are friendly and helpful to other patrons, but disdain is reserved just for me. And I’m not going to pretend I don’t know why I can’t get the same treatment as others, despite the fact that I spend the same currency.

Some people might say that “pulling the hijab card” is the same as pulling the race card. And I really hate that phrase. “Pulling the race card” only falls from the lips of people who have never been on the receiving end of racism, or truly believe that it no longer exists. But that’s another blog post for another day. I would like to challenge my non-hijabi friends to wear a hijab in public for a day. Stop into your favorite coffee shops and grocery stores. You may receive the same treatment as everyone else. But you most likely will not. I am not going to claim that everyone hates me because I’m a hijabi. That would be erroneous. I have come across some really amazing employees in the places I frequent most often, and they are the reason those businesses will always get a piece of my paycheck. But I have also come across some folks who make me wish I had never bothered to patronize their establishments.

I don’t usually care what people think of me. If you choose to miss out on all my awesomeness by depriving yourself of a friendship with me, that’s your own loss. But I am really tired of tolerating substandard service because someone takes issue with the scarf on my head. It’s hurtful, and it’s wrong. If you believe it’s okay to treat someone maliciously because of something as ridiculous as a scrap of fabric, you deserve to be reprimanded. I’m done staying quiet on this issue. I’m finished spending my hard earned money in stores whose employees turn their noses up at my business.

In the next few days, Whole Foods will be receiving a strongly worded letter from me detailing Nates’s treatment. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve been treated this way by a cashier in that store. I used to scan the registers and try to avoid certain miserable employees, but I don’t see why I should have to do that in a store I’m spending money in. I’m not sure if my letter will get a response, but I’m really starting to look forward to the opening of Trader Joes down the street.

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