Shopping >Smoke Ring
5 Years of Patronage. . . Still Disrespected!!!.
Okay, I'd been going to the Smoke Ring since Fall '07 at the suggestion of one of my frat brothers who lives in the neighborhood. Usually, I buy 2-3 flavored/scented cigars at a time from the owner Gerry, or whichever employee is handling the register. Recently, I walked in one Sat. (4/28/12), and proceeded to the humidor for my usual selection of cigars. Upon noticing a brand I hadn't tried, I began smelling a few of them (which are wrapped in CELLEOPHANE). After a few moments, Mary, the store associate, walked in, and suspiciously asked if I needed assistance. Initially unaware of her of intent, I politely informed her that I was just checking out a few flavored cigars. Apparently not convinced, she continued to "hawk" me for a few moments while I browsed through their selection. Though my "racial profiling" senses were beginning to flare up, I suppressed them under the naive guise of: I'VE BEEN COMING HERE FOR 5 YEARS; SURELY, SHE'S NOT SUSPICIOUS OF ME. Suddenly, she told me that it wasn't "proper etiquette" to smell the cigars. . . Seriously?!
For those who recall the scene in BOOMERANG where Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, and David Alan Grier were at the haberdashers trying on blazers before the white sales associate began harassing them, this was like cinematic déjà vu come to life.
At this point, the racial profiling was undeniable. I've seen countless WHITE customers do the very same thing; many times w/ cigars that weren't even wrapped. Never did I witness any redirection or officious consumer counsel. Since Gerry wasn't there, I simply walked out with the intent of returning later to discuss the incident. Upon entering the store today, both Gerry and Mary were there. Apparently she didn't remember me or the altercation. After making idle small-talk with Gerry for a few moments, I began asking about various flavored products. As Gerry and I entered the humidor, I asked hypothetically how one could best determine the scent/flavor of a cigar he/she is unfamiliar with to which he simply replied, "Smell it."
Okay. . . now that the "etiquette" issue had been clarified, I began to recount my experience regarding the aforementioned incident. Immediately, he started "backtracking" and covering for Mary by explaining how they have problems with customers removing cigars from the cellophane, not buying them, etc. However, not deterred by what was now beginning to sound like a bunch of bulls--t, I clarified that I had NOT removed any cigars from the wrappers. Furthermore, if I had removed a cigar from its wrapper then I could understand the intervention. But since that's clearly not what happened, why the sudden suspicion on Mary's part? Perhaps, any black patron that she just so happens not to recognize is the understood exception to the rule. Businesses such as this should not be allowed to flourish once their true sentiment has been revealed. . . GO SOME PLACE ELSE!!!
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