If you’ve never set foot in the video game store GameStop, it’s kind of like the chain store equivalent of a dive bar in a bad part of town. The employees try their best to deal with customers who tend to occasionally blow disputes ridiculously out of hand. This leads to more vicious arguments per capita than any mall establishment (or for that matter, dive bar) that I can think of.
However, even with that low bar of experience, I was kind of stunned by a viral video of a GameStop confrontation that showed up on social media. It was first posted on Facebook by one Tom Smith. When I opened it, I figured it was just your usual video of someone trying to take back a game they’d already opened and getting inordinately huffy when they realized what the return policy was.
But then I realized this was 2018 and I was dealing with a video involving someone “misgendering” a customer. It was at that moment I understood the kind of insanity I was signing up for.
According to the Daily Wire, the incident happened in an Albuquerque, New Mexico store. It actually began as the kind of battle over a return I’ve witnessed dozens of times in GameStop. A man — or at least a biological man — wanted a refund and was instead offered store credit.
“I don’t want credit, you’re going to give me my f—ing money back,” the customer can be seen screaming at the GameStop employee.
“Excuse me, sir, there’s a young man in here,” a woman off camera says. “You need to watch your mouth.”
And that’s when things went downhill: “Excuse me! It is ma’am! It is ma’am!” the customer yelled.
The woman then made the very cisgendered mistake of not apologizing for the remark. Instead, she told the customer to settle down and said she would call the police if they didn’t calm down.
That didn’t mollify the trans customer. “You need to settle down! You need to settle down and mind your business!” he yells, directly pointing at the woman. Then he turns to the male GameStop clerk: “Ma’am! Once again, ma’am!”
“I said both of you –” the clerk responds.
“No, you said sir!” he says. The customer turns around, momentarily thinking the better of the rant. But of course that didn’t last long: “M———er! Take it outside! You wanna call me sir again? I will show you a f—ing sir!”
The clerk apologized, but that didn’t stop our friend from kicking over a display and then turns back to the clerk, demanding GameStop’s corporate number. “I need your corporate number now! Get it for me, now!”
When told to settle down, the customer responded, “I’m gonna ask you for the fifth time to stop calling me a man, because, quite clearly, I am not!”
So anyway, the clerk calls the customer ma’am, the customer claims they weren’t cussing, they talk about “disrespecting trans people” and planning “on telling the entire LGBTQ community,” he tells the employee.
“You’re going to lose money over this,” the customer threatens.
There are several problems with this. First, corporate usually isn’t interested in the complaints of irate individuals who kick over displays and go on expletive-filled rants inside stores where there are obviously going to be children. Second, let’s be fair here — I would not, on outward appearance, call this individual “ma’am.” I would probably settle on “sir.”
If I were the clerk and the customer corrected me, I certainly would have gone with “ma’am,” mind you — my job would be to sell games and be polite, after all, not make sociopolitical points — but I must also express extreme surprise that this individual looks in the mirror each morning and thinks to themselves, “If someone misgenders me today, I’m getting violently angry.” In other words, there’s enough ambiguity here that vitriol over “sir” vs. “ma’am” seems a bit, well, uncalled for.
There was no word as to whether the customer got their store credit. I’m going to doubt it, though.
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