Shopping in White America: Luck of the Draw

“There’s a guy who goes to the park everyday, around 11 or so, sometimes 1 o clock,” Mom described to me. “He’s always scratching away at lotto tickets. Sometimes up to 30 minutes.”

“How weird!” I said. “He must be… an interesting character. I wonder what his story is?”

“He’s weird, that’s what he is,” she said.

She left to cut some pineapples.


Mom and I were in Aerie at West County Mall. The moment we walked in, the store greeter made eye contact and then quickly turned her back to us. Weird. But she was folding clothes at the same time, so I didn’t give it much thought.

I began to grow weary when she checked up on everyone in the store except us. Even the new customers coming in were being greeted and told about the current discounts and such. The subject of race immediately popped into my head. Give her the benefit of the doubt, Sherry. Maybe she was having a bad day or didn’t have good experience with tourists in the past. But what right does she have to judge a person so strictly based on their appearance? The brunette girl styled a greyish cloth vest, jean shorts and a killer fake tan.

About 15 minutes passed. We were lingering around the dressing rooms when one of the American Eagle employers walked in (the stores were connected) and chatted with the brunette. The AE employee proceeded to take over the cash register and was taking care of the only other customer in the store section. Contrary to what I expected, the brunette disappeared. I stood near the dressing room feeling a little idiotic. Maybe I was too used to always being checked up on?


More minutes went by. Finally I stopped a passing AE employee to get us a dressing room. She was fine, lively and vibrant, and offered friendly service. We didn’t see the brunette again until we got out of the dressing room, ready for check out.

The moment we made eye contact: “The register’s opened over there,” she pointed to the other side while folding a set of bras. I searched for a smidge of friendliness on her face and found myself too impatient and irritated.


“Did you find everything okay?”

The tall, blonde cashier we got clumsily put the bras and underwear together in a bag. He averted long eye contact. I wondered about the brunette. It was 8:47 pm and the mall closed at 9. Was the injustice I thought I faced all in my head?

I felt uneasy on the rest of the way home.


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