Call it ‘retail karma’ | Opinion | The Press and Standard

by | January 21, 2017 5:00 pm

Last Updated: January 18, 2017 at 11:12 am

How did I miss this?
On Nov. 23, a woman flipped out at a Michael’s craft store in Chicago. The footage went viral, with more than 4.6 YouTube views. (Yes, Virginia, we’re being filmed all the time, everywhere.)
Jennifer Boyle, 29, went off on a store manager — shouting and yelling — and told another customer filming her, “Go home to your husband who’s cheating on you.”
Boyle maintains that she was discriminated against — over a reusable bag that costs less than $2.
On Jan. 3, Boyle “broke her silence” with a local NBC affiliate interview. “This was about very poor customer service and being told to leave without warning,” she said. “Fight or flight kicked in and I … needed to defend myself.”
The footage shows an unhinged woman, throwing what can only be described as a standing tantrum. I expected her to face-plant on the floor at any moment.
Boyle later complained to Michael’s corporate office. I don’t know if she was looking for an apology or free framing or what, but she got zip. Good for them.
But wait — that’s not all! Several weeks prior, this flower of delicate womanhood threw a fit at a Peet’s Coffee, also in Chicago. (One wonders if similar hysterics have occurred at her dry cleaner’s and Trader Joe’s.)
“You’re a b—-!” she screams at the Peet’s floor manager, who happens to be male. Note: You’re nuts to scream at people who sell scalding hot coffee.
Folks, I have a rule: No snark for people who make a living on their feet. It’s a simple yardstick. But some people see a nametag and think the wearer doesn’t deserve respect. (Unless they’re being treated by a doctor wearing a nametag. People are always nice to doctors, probably because they don’t want to die.)
I’ve worn plenty of nametags. I was a server in a beachside restaurant from age 16 to 24. It was a fun, lucrative gig. Sometimes tables didn’t leave a tip, but the next table always made up for it. We called it “server karma.” As for actually getting attitude, I only remember three incidents, and those people came in mad to begin with.
In my post-server career, I’ve worked for a real estate firm, a law office, an import company, a magazine and numerous newspapers. In that time I’ve been sent dead flowers, spray-painted black (after a less than stellar review of a local production of “Steel Magnolias”); I’ve been screamed at, cursed, hung up on and threatened with a “**** cutting” (My response: “I don’t have enough **** to cut.”) People have ripped up newspapers, messages and contracts before my eyes.
Nasty behavior stopped bothering me after I learned three things: 1) In 40 years of working with the public, I can count the bad apples on two hands. That’s a pretty good ratio.  2) The vast majority of people are kind and patient. 3) Hurt people hurt people. That means people who go off on you walked in with issues. They have pain, and it’s not about you.
I hope Boyle — who refuses to apologize for her outbursts — discovers what’s really eating her, and deals with it. I really do.
On the bright side, someone started a GoFundMe page for the Michael’s manager who bore the screams and insults with calmness and professionalism. At last count, the tally was more than $32,000.
I think we can call that “retail karma.”

(Julie R. Smith, who gives an automatic pass to any woman with hot flashes, can be reached at

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