There are few things in this world that anger me more than judgemental people who discriminate against those they perceive to be different or less worthy than themselves. I never truly understood how lucky I had been in my life until a rather nasty and petty experience while at university opened my eyes to some things that once seen you can’t ignore.
One of my friends was turning 21 and her family had hired out this wonderful French Restaurant at the Gold Coast to celebrate her birthday. It was to be a black tie affair as well as other activities that would span the week-end and although my wardrobe had sufficient evening gowns I decided that I would like something new as it was going to be a very special weekend and because I was a little spoilt and liked new clothes. [so sue me, I’m a girl] At this time my ex-husband to be and I were attending university and as a result my attire was a little more casual than the average socialite that patronised boutique clothing stores but nonetheless I dressed well and certainly didn’t appear to be a vagabond [as if that should matter anyway].
My ex was very good-looking and always particular about his clothes and appearance. In my opinion Matt fit the ‘tall dark and handsome’ mould quite well [ what – just because he is now my ex husband doesn’t change the fact that when I knew him he was more than a little good-looking] and one of the reasons for the tall and dark part was the fact the he was Maori [from New Zealand] on his father’s side and had the colouring and build to match.
At the time we were living in Ascot and not far from our apartment was Racecourse Road. Here you could find all manner of upscale boutiques and restaurants and as I had shopped at some of these places before it was there I went to look for the ‘perfect dress‘ for the party. So after finishing uni for the day we stopped on our way home at one of the boutiques that specialised in evening wear so that I could have a little prowl around the store.
We walked in together, I started browsing and as usual in a boutique the owner came over to ask me if there was anything she could do to help. Now I did notice right off the bat that she seemed a little short with me but it was late in the afternoon and I just figured she’d had a bad day. I explained that I was just trying to get a feel for what she had in stock before trying anything on and as I turned back to the rack I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that she had curled her lip and wrinkled her nose as if I had just pissed on the carpet or belched out some disgusting odour from my rear. This caught my attention pretty fast but still I didn’t really care as I had come across a couple of items that looked promising.
As I went to take one from the rack she practically pounced on me and held onto the gown, as if she expected me to make a run for it and asked me again did I want some assistance. I was beginning to get a little riled at this point because I have never had anything like that happen to me and didn’t understand what was going on. So I just removed another item when to my shock she moved in even closer and explained that she didn’t really like people touching the clothes as they were ‘very expensive‘ and probably not what I was after. It was then that I saw that look again, only this time I realised it wasn’t directed at me but at Matt, who she stared at as if she expected him to pull a knife or at least blow his nose on the clothing.
Well now all the pieces fell into place and it made a very nasty picture. Matt stood there with such a look of anger and bitter yet resigned amusement that it tripped a switch inside me. To this day I can’t recall ever feeling so utterly disgusted and furious so quickly and I decided that enough was enough, this bitch was going down. Drawing on all the years of drama, deportment and elocution I drily asked precisely what she considered to be ‘expensive’.
A little startled and then smug she explained that most of the dresses in the store started at around $800 and went up from there. With the coldest haughtiest, snobbiest private schooled voice I had I informed her that I had worn underwear more expensive than that and raking her from head to toe as if assessing her own attire I raised an eyebrow and said that after all I didn’t think that this was quite the sort of store that would cater to someone like myself and that perhaps I should look somewhere a little more sophisticated. Walking out like royalty [deportment has so many nifty uses] Matt and I exited the store with a final disdainful look at the merchandise.
However I did really feel that I had not fully expressed how utterly disgusted I was with her racist perceptions and over the top elitism. That was easily fixed with two phone calls, one to my mother and another to a close friend of hers. I explained exactly what had happened and suggested that perhaps this store and its owner were not suited to its current location and that it might be worth moving it on. So word was spread to every friend and acquaintance we knew [and we knew legions] who would normally patronise the place and socially blacklisted it. It’s funny but there have been times when I have felt trapped by the social expectations that went with my family but this time I was more than happy to act the spoilt upper class bitch. The boutique closed six months later and although I know that I should feel bad I really don’t.
I know that there is a price for everything in life and I may have to pay Karma wise but honestly it’s a price I’m happy to pay if it ever comes due. We’re taught to turn the other cheek at times like that but sadly I am not an evolved spirit. You hurt those I care for and the only reason I’ll turn the other cheek is to reach for a weapon. She shouldn’t have behaved like such a racist excuse for a human being, her own attitude was what destroyed her business I just made others aware of her behaviour.
Matt needless to say was more than happy to see this ignorant fool get her comeuppance. I on the other hand was really shockedas until then I had thought racism was mainly something that was in the past and that most people couldn’t possibly believe and behave in that manner. It was something I never forgot, that instinctive disdain for a person she’d never met or even spoken a single word to.