Got angry. Wrote email.

25 Oct

Sometimes you get used to unpleasant things and sometimes you don’t.  For example, I am used to waiting 20 minutes for the R train during rush hour.  I am used to grey, and sometimes yellow, snow that persists weeks after a big snow storm.  I am used to being nearly blinded by over-sized umbrellas because New Yorkers, as a general rule, have no concept of umbrella courtesy.  I am not, however, used to being whistled at, honked at, stared at, god-blessed at and all the other degrading ways men decide to prove to women that they do have penises and that their penises would very much like to make your acquaintance.  That is why I have decided to, whenever possible, take the fight to the next level.  No longer will I yell back.  No longer will my middle finger shoot up before I give it official permission.  No longer will I (untruthfully) tell especially pesky construction workers that I am the owner of a pistol.  I am turning over a new leaf.  Now, I am going to use my years of education, and the anonymity provided by the interwebz, to take my annoyance to the top.  I am sending emails to the management!

I am a bartender amd just down the block from my bar a new PetSmart is opening.  En route to work a recent Saturday morning, I was passing by the PetSmart, coffee in hand (hadn’t even had a sip!) when I heard a sound, tap tap, tap tap.  I looked over to find 3 construction workers who were building out the store staring at me, while one of them was tap tapping on the window.  Having gotten my attention they let out an onslaught of classic street harassment.  Whistling, tapping, kiss-y face making.  Since I couldn’t throw my scalding hot coffee on them (stupid window!) I decided to do the next best thing:  I shook my head disapprovingly, raised my left eyebrow in classic Rebekah fashion, and started drafting an email in my head to PetSmart.  Then, I wrote it and this is what it said:

This message is in regards to the new store you are opening on _______.  As the owner of two kittens, I was looking forward to the opening of your new location just down the street from my job. However, on numerous occasions on my way to work on weekend mornings, I have been harassed by the men building out the interior of your store.  I find this to be both insulting and wildly inappropriate.  As a result, I will not be frequenting your store and will instead choose places where I am treated with respect. I wish you the best of luck and hope that in the future you express to the men you hire that, when working for PetSmart, they are representing your company and therefore while in your employment should treat women with the dignity we deserve.

I did not expect a response because, although I looked and looked, there was no email address listed for the corporate headquarters.  All I could find was a form where I wrote my name and then filed my complaint in a text box.  Seemed very impersonal.  Lo and behold 4 hours after my complaint I got a response from a lady named Kate!  She informed me that she had filled out a customer complaint on my behalf and submitted it to the “management team” and said “we appreciate the opportunity you have given us to set the matter right.”  Huzzah!  I thought that was the last I would hear from the company and you know what?  I was okay with that.  Again, I was wrong.  I received the following email from the manager of the location about which I made the complaint 5 days later.  The best part of it pasted below:

My name is _________, I am the Store Manager of the new PetSmart opening in your neighborhood. Please allow me to apologize on behalf of PetSmart, and our store, for the behavior of the construction workers that you encountered during your morning commute. Such behavior is not acceptable, from members of our store staff, nor from our vendor partners. I have reached out to the General Contractor involved in building our store, as well as our internal project managers to make them aware of this report, and the conduct of some the employees of our vendor partners. Based upon your report, and the times detailed within, our General Contractor is working to identify which vendors had employees in the building at those times so that he can most effectively address the conduct of their employees. PetSmart has a zero tolerance policy towards this type of behavior. Beyond company policy, I also have a personal zero tolerance policy towards this type of behavior – we insist that everyone, customers and staff, be treated with dignity and respect at all times. That said, as we move forward, in addition to whatever steps the General Contractor takes to address this behavior, I will also be addressing the remaining construction workers as to our expectations moving forward. As our store team is now moving in to the building, please be assured that our management team has been made aware of your experience, and we will each be closely supervising the behavior of the vendor partners working in our store as we move forward with merchandising, and with the training of our new store staff.

Huzzah again!  Said manager then offered me a tour of the store and said I am welcome to bring my “furry friend if it’s the kind that ventures out of the house.”  I will be taking him up on this tour and I will be bringing my friend Carrie along. Not only does she venture outside the house, but she has a very full head of hair.  Not quite what he had in mind, perhaps, but I think I can justify it.   So, sometimes it works!  Yay PetSmart!  Details of tour to follow.

5 Responses to “Got angry. Wrote email.”

  1. Aaron October 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    One of the small things that many people don’t realize is how a simple apology can go a long way. In demonstrating accountability, they turned you from someone who will never enter their store into a potentially loyal customer. Anyway, good use of the real hammer, “OK, I’ll just take this to your boss.”

  2. Marissa Anne Palmerton October 31, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Wow, it’s reassuring to know that we live in a place where a woman can file a complaint about harassment and it is being addressed on such a large scale. Say what you will about America, but PetSmart has upheld the belief that women in this country have rights and that we deserve to walk down the street without being heckled. Good on you for taking it to the top!


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