Testimonial #2 CW: Violence, theft, police mentions
Updated: Sep 14
The following story comes to us from an anonymous worker.
I have worked at almost every store in the Bay Area except for Palo Alto. I wanted to write to you about an incident that happened on July 4th of last year. I was working in the Berkeley store when a homeless looking male presenting person walked in. He had a large duffel with him which he left at the door. I gave him customer service. I walked him around the store (mainly to keep an eye on him). He eventually wanted me to leave him alone for a bit. So, I walked away from him and went behind the cash register. I didn’t want him to feel like I felt suspicious of him (even though I was). I gave a look to my manager. A look which I thought said “Hey, watch this guy is a bit odd.” My manager stomped over to him and commanded him to leave the store. At that point, he hadn’t done anything to get kicked out of the store. He just looked homeless. The man asked why he was being kicked out, my manager said that she was ordering him out of the store and that if he did not leave she would call the police. Once again he asked why he was being asked to leave. My manager said that she was calling the police and proceeded to call the police while shouting at him to leave. The customer then became threatening he was shouting calling my manager a bitch and a cunt. Shouting that it was unfair for him to be asked to leave. Then he essentially said if you’re going to kick me out I’ll give you a reason to kick me out. He stole a large Le Wand and a Pleasureworks Mystique wand off of the front display table and then walked out. My manager then turned to me and started yelling “Go after him” over and over. I remained behind the counter.
When I was trained I was told to never chase after a thief. The way the man was yelling made me worry that if I went after him I would be putting my safety in danger. I didn’t chase after him. She kept screaming at me to “Go after him” while shouting to the police that someone had stolen from he store. He left with two products. The police were called, they came, my manager reported the theft. The story should have ended there. But it didn’t.
Once the police officer left my manager called me into her office and reprimanded me. I was supposed to go after the thief. To do what, she never said. But me not chasing after the thief made her feel like I had put her in danger. I was forced to sit there and then I was forced to apologize to her. Once I said sorry I was allowed to leave the office. She told me my inaction should not happen again.
After work I called my mother. I remember repeating to her over and over again that my life was worth more than two vibrators, my life was worth more than four hundred dollars of product. Shouldn’t that have been obvious? I didn’t know if the man had a weapon, I didn’t know if he would hit me or hurt me. My manager was the one who escalated the situation. I don’t think he would have stolen the toys if she hadn’t immediately escalated. But that didn’t matter. According to my manager, I was supposed to risk my life for two toys.
A few days after the incident my manager sent an email to the entire store telling them about what happened and letting them know that when someone stole from the store we were supposed to take action. Then about a week after that my manager pulled me to the side and let me know the manufacturer price of the items. It was less than a hundred dollars. I think she said the man got away with about eighty six dollars worth of merchandise. I laughed with her, after all, I didn’t want to be forced to give another apology to her. But I felt so upset, I had overestimated the value of my life to Good Vibrations. It wasn’t worth four hundred dollars, it wasn’t even worth one hundred.
I transferred to the San Francisco stores shortly after that. San Francisco has more thieves that are violent. SESAs have been hit and pushed, but I doubt anything will ever be done. I wish you all luck with your union efforts. I hope you succeed.