“I’ve been really careful going to the grocery store – mask, gloves, full-length clothing, the works. Back in April-May, our local QFC used to have workers spray and wipe down carts, but after a few months, they stopped. Now, there are self-serve wipes available for all customers to disinfect their cart if they want. Well, apparently some people didn’t get the memo.
Multiple times now, someone has mistaken me for an employee while I’m wiping my cart.
‘Can you do this one next?’ or ‘Are these clean?’ someone will say.
Then, the person will look closer at me and apologize. Usually, I brush it off with a laugh (living in a predominantly white neighborhood as a PoC gives you thick skin). Until today.
First, while I’m wiping down, there’s a sudden yank on the cart and it hits my arm. I look up to see a middle-aged lady trying to pull away with my cart. The mask was below her chin. Out of instinct, I grab the other side and pull back. This surprises her and she looks up… but doesn’t let go.
Me: ‘Excuse me, what are you doing?’
Karen: (no response. Yanks again.)
Me: ‘Let go please’
Karen: (no more yanking but doesn’t let go either)
After a 10-second staring contest, Karen finally says something to me.
Karen (whiny high-pitched): ‘I need a clean cart’
Me: ‘Then get one yourself!’
Karen: ‘I’m in a hurry.’
Me: ‘There are wipes right behind you.’
Karen:’Well can’t you clean another one?’
Me: ‘I don’t work here!’
K: ‘I need this one NOW!’
At this point, the cart is no longer clean, I don’t care. At this point, it’s the principle of the thing. Years of ‘letting it go’ were bubbling to the top now as I stared into the face of this entitled woman who has likely gotten her way all her life. Not this time.
Me: ‘Get bent lady. Step away from my cart and go get your own. And put that mask back on!’
She finally lets go by pushing the cart back towards me. She grabs another one and loudly complains all the way into the store. Later, I see her getting stopped by the manager and arguing about keeping her mask on.
As a conflict-averse person, I felt really proud of standing my ground.”