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I Grocery Shop in a Skirt

Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013

True Stories, Politics

So, I wear a skirt to the grocery store. In fact, these days, I pretty much wear a skirt when I'm not at work. Face it, they're comfortable, sexy, and cool. You guys that don't wear them, you're really missing out. In fact, tonight, I caught one attractive lady really checking me out. So if you want to be more attractive to women and get a leg up on the next guy, wear a skirt.

However, it's not all it's cracked up to be. Women may love it, but society hates a man in skirt. I had several incidents at the HEB where I shop. For those few readers who aren't in Texas, HEB is a grocery store (a "shop" for you UKers).

Two Trips

So, after being arrested when dressed partially, I found new courage to go out wearing whatever the hell I want. In fact, the day I got out of jail, we went to HEB where the only changes I made in my outfit was to remove the bra, change the top, and put underwear on. Then we went to get beer.

Later in the week, we went for a late night snack run where I wore one of my wife's V-neck tops that happens to match my purple tiered skirt. In fact, she decided she wasn't going to wear the top anymore and gave it to me. So I was wearing that outfit at the store. There was this guy who worked there but was off the clock who flipped when he saw me. He was all "Did you see THAT?!?!?" and various "it" comments. "I can't believe 'it' got by me!"

On a later trip, we found the staff generally frowning at me, ignoring me, and trying really hard not to talk to me or make eye contact.

So I sent an email through HEB's customer service website. I chose this result mostly because I wasn't really angry enough to say anything until I got home, and then I didn't want to go back to the store just to be a dick about it.

Apparently a sensitivity training session needs to be run again. I am a man who enjoys wearing skirts in these hot Texas summers, and it wasn't originally a problem at HEB. However, recently several visits have brought certain problems to mind.
First, about a week ago during a late night snack run, an off-duty employee made some very loud and rude comments calling everybody's attention to me. This is obviously unacceptable behavior.
Last night was different, As my wife put it: "didn't notice the crowd as much as the staff making glances and glares this time".
I have been shopping there for a year now and know much of the evening cashier staff by name.
I do not wear indecent skirts, yet your staff seems to have no trouble with the women who do. Why the difference? This is AUSTIN, the liberal Mecca of Texas, adopted home of Leslie Cochran.
HEB might dominate the area, but there are plenty of other grocery stores for me to shop at. Since the skirts I usually wear are men's wear in Asia (although I'm not Asian), I'll bet I would be well-received in an Asian market.

I got no answer. No email, no phone call, nothing.

I'm not a circus freak

Some staff started behaving differently, leading me to believe that maybe the matter had been handled internally. Then, last Friday, I was in the self-checkout line buying beer, which requires the cashier on duty for the self-checkout line to approve the purchase after verifying my age, which as you all know means she looked at me, saw an old fat guy wearing a skirt, and then burst out laughing and cracking jokes to her supervisor who was right there. After giving me the "are you old enough?" look, she was quite slow on approving the purchase because she was occupied with cracking jokes. Now, I wasn't close enough to hear her, but I think the situation definitely raises the question of what jokes she was making. As I was walking out, she was indicating me with her eyes to her supervisor.

This prompted me to send an angrier email. In fact, I was so angry when I passed her that I chose to go home and cool off, knowing I would say nothing coherent if I confronted her then and there.

So you ignored my last email on the subject. Why does HEB treat transgender customers so badly? Tonight I had the lady at the self-checkout pointing at me and laughing while her manager just looked on stoically. Why didn't he say anything?
This is really strange considering that in 2009, HEB scored a 75% for treating transgender employees (probably still worse than it treats cisgender employees).
So why is this acceptable policy? Obviously if it wasn't acceptable, I'd have gotten an answer to my first email. At least a phone message or an email. I got nothing.
What do you think the next step is?

Getting Angry Works?

This prompted a callback. Today.

I got a call from the front-end manager. He was very profuse in his apology. He specifically states several times that HEB recognizes everybody's right to be treated with respect and dignity. He even sounded a bit angry that his employees had failed.

He also explained that when I sent the first email, the manager who received it had trouble dialing my number (it's a Google Voice number, it does occasionally have issues when people try to call it). So when he received this email, he passed it to the front-end manager hoping he could reach me.

Well, he did. And he did exactly what he needed to do. He also asked if there was anything else he could do to make it right, which I think was my opportunity to ask for a bribe (gift card, whatever). As much as I could use the money, I offered instead that if they determine that any sort of sensitivity training is needed, I'd be willing to offer to help in any capacity I may.

He was appreciative.

It's nice when you find yourself in conflict and the person who calls you wants to resolve the conflict.

Treatment since then?

I have been treated well since then. It's still a little early to tell after talking to the front-end manager, but if he's worth his salt as a manager, this problem has gone away for good.

I'd like to call it a win, except that after talking to the manager it became quite clear it was never a fight.

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