Ageism or Just Plain Rude?

I just read something that really smoked my drawers. Here it is from


The shop is empty except for an OLDER WOMAN, the customer,  and TWO 20-SOMETHING MEN, the sales staff.

The woman is carefully examining the shoes on display. The young men are hanging out at the front of the store talking and rearranging shoes in the display window. They pay no attention to her and finally she holds up a shoe and interrupts:


“What material are these shoes made of?”


“Ummm. I don’t know.”


(unbelieving) “You don’t know?”


(Uncertain) “Um, no.”


“You work here and you don’t know what material the shoes are made of?”


“No, do you?”


“No. They’re shoes.”


“I know they’re shoes. But are they leather? Are fabric? Are they–”


“Yes, maybe, whatever.”


“I came in here specifically to buy a pair of Skechers, but you’ve just lost the sale.”


(a bit pathetically) “But why?”


“Why should I spend my money in a store that doesn’t even care enough to train its sales staff–”


(interrupting) “Yeah, well, whatever.” (waves arms motioning for the woman to leave)


( walking away) “Was this the millenial idea of retail service? Or was it ageism?”

And here are just some of the comments:

“If you were a hip shopper you would have googled your question.

But apparently, your age has kept you back. I’m surprised the salespeople didn’t throw the shoes at you. I would have. Their job is to ring you up baby, not answer your silly questions. That’s why the internet was invented. When I shop for shoes I take my iPhone with me to the store and google what I want to buy. I read the reviews and get the data MYSELF. Got it?

*WTF are you going to do when salespeople are replaced by robots and tablets, which is coming very soon. Go shoeless? Or naked? Or hungry from starvation because you aren’t educated enough in technology?

Ever ask a salesperson what kind of material is used to build a car? Bet most of them don’t know that either, honey.

Use the friggin’ internet and shut your pie hole.”

And this:

“Well, darling, at least they didn’t call you a hag!”

But then there were also these comments, which made me a little less angry:

“What kind of sales staff were they?? They don’t even know what kind of product they are selling.. This must be reported to their employer.. Tsk..”

“I think it’s a little of both – but you nailed it by blaming managers for not training staff (who they probably pay minimum wage) not only in courtesy and customer service, but also in product detail.”

“Certainly not ageism. If a salesman can’t respond to a simple question, he doesn’t deserve the sale or the job. Shows a lack of work ethic. I encountered a lot of these people who just wanted to collect a paycheck.”

Ok–I try to keep my posts positive or funny or thought-provoking. But this exchange makes me both mad and sad. Think about it: those of us who are 60+ grew up in a time where we actually spoke to people instead of texting them, and you knew everyone and they knew you. Just about everyone we knew was raised with pretty much the same set of values, i.e., respect for elders, basic manners, no swearing and no sarcasm, pledging allegiance to the American flag, morning prayers, and so on.

I’m not saying that everyone should grow up the way we did, but sheesh–there is a whole lot of gracelessness, meanness, rudeness, lack of courtesy, violence, ingratitude, and downright sh*tfullness out there (pardon my French). I think these attitudes hurt us in ways we can’t even imagine.

Sigh. This is why I turn more and more to positive web sites such as the Kindness Blog. When I start thinking that there is little good left in the world, I always find something that lights me up. This IS goodness and kindness and joy and love in the world. Sometimes it just takes a little effort to see it.

May your day be filled with more positives than negatives.
*For all of us walking antiques who do not text, “WTF” is short for “What the f**k?” Charming, no?



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