Dear PoP – Verbal Attack on Gay Couple at Safeway in SW

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

“Dear PoP,

I just moved from NW to SW and I’m loving the new Safeway by me, but I was really disappointed to read this in the Metro Weekly:

‘We put our groceries up on the conveyer belt, some frozen dinner and wine, and [the cashier] said, ‘Oh God, they’re faggots,”’ says Morgan. ”And then Brendan said, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t hear what you said.’ And she said ‘You guys are fucking faggots.”’

Had you heard about this? This poor couple is shopping at the 14th & P Whole Foods now just to avoid the humiliation of walking back into that Safeway.”

This is the first I’ve heard. I saw on twitter last night that MetroWeekly posted a video apology from the cashier.

This is a supremely sad situation. It is appalling, frustrating, and like I said, really really sad. It always amazes me when slurs like this are still used in 2011. There is still a lot of hate and ignorance in the world.

I really don’t mean to be insensitive but I wonder if Safeway and/or local groups/politicians (ANC, Civic groups, CM Tommy Wells) can take advantage of this situation and start an education campaign or simply a set of meetings where people meet each other in a casual setting. Maybe I’m being unrealistic. What the cashier said is beyond appalling but I wonder how much of it comes from hate or how much comes from ignorance? I’m disgusted by this whole episode and I hope nobody has to encounter such a painful experience again.

270 Comment

  • Uhhhh…. why hasn’t Safeway fired this shining pillar of society yet? Aka, ghetto trash?

  • Come on. We live in a town where the local NFL franchise is a slur. This region is lousy with discrimination on all fronts.

    • Redskins IS really pretty bad. Not until I moved here did I really think about how awful it is. The Chiefs and Indians as team names don’t seem as offensive to me (correct me if I’m wrong), though the Indians’ “mascot” is really one of the most offensive images I’ve ever seen, like a Native American Sambo. Why MLB hasn’t forced the Indians to dump that logo/mascot is beyond me.

      Anyway, I for one plan on boycotting Safeway. There are enough WF, Yes, and Giants in DC for me to subsist on without shopping at a store that supports homophobic (and likely racist) employees over customers.

      • Teeter. Go there. Their cashiers have always been nice.

        To be honest, this doesnt surprise me at all. The cashiers both at city vista and at SW Waterfront are among the most unfriendly and hostile people I’ve met working at a grocery store.

        I was looking for an excuse to really hate these stores, and I think Ive found it.

        • jim_ed

          The cashiers at the Potomac Ave Harris Teeter are always extremely friendly and personable. I don’t know if its good training or just good hiring, but it’s really refreshing as opposed to most retail employees.

          SW Safeway on the other hand, has incredibly rude employees. Outright hostile is how I’d sum up most of their attitudes. The contrast between the two stores couldn’t be bigger. Logically, we shop at the teet exclusively now.

          • my brother works for HT, but not in DC. One of the reasons I’d guess their staff is more pleasant has to do with the fact that the store isn’t unionized. He has definitely had coworkers who stole, were lazy on the job, continually showed up late, etc. Probably at least as many as Safeway does. The difference? HT fires those folks, quickly, and promotes the others.

          • I’ve shopped at the Third-World Safeway (Columbia Road) for the past five years, after not going there much in the first 15 years. One of the reasons is that I find the staff there to be extremely friendly and professional. However, they all seem to have been there awhile and take their jobs seriously. They are extremely polite and always ask if I need help carrying out my groceries.

            The CH Giant, on the other hand, though more convenient to me, seems like it uses the same employment agency as the SW Safeway. Can’t get any customer service. One time the cashier forgot to take my credit card slip because he was so busy texting. I pondered for a minute and then walked it back in and gave it to another cashier.

      • Have you seen the Indians mascot Chief Wahoo? None of the natives I know look like that stereotype.

        • Show me your twitter did state, “The Indians’ ‘mascot’ is really one of the most offensive images I’ve seen.”

          And I agree with him/her and you. I don’t find the team name all that offensive. (Though of course, I wouldn’t argue if someone did, I just personally don’t.) But that mascot is horrible. Why not just use the script I and Slider, the annoying bird, and call it a day?

        • Chief Wahoo is in the process of being phased out, if you haven’t noticed. They wear the red “C” caps with more regularity than the old, offensive ones.

    • Right, so because your offended by Redskins, a team name that no one uses to be discriminatory, this contributes to why ghetto cashiers use hate speech?


      • I think the commenter was expressing the act that even though “Redskins” is known to be offensive, nobody cares in DC. What if the local team were the Washington “Negroes”? Don’t you think it would have changed here? I mean, they changed the Bullets to the Wizards for sensitivity reasons, but not the Redskins?

        There a sense of ingrained entitlement among the black population here that they can do or way whatever they like. And, I kno this is going to get me flamed, but I think there is a lack of leadership from the likes of Gray, Brown, and Barry that allows incidents such as this to be seen as okay by locals.

        If this happened in New York or Philly, you know the mayor, or at least a council member would be down at the store, leading a protest for an apology or termination of the employee.

        • Whoa, now. I’ll fight for first place in line to criticize Gray et al for the their lack of leadership on any given issue. I also think the employee is due for termination AND some form of public shaming.

          But lining this incident up along racial lines is gas on a fire that’s burning well enough on its own right now. Please STFU with that noise rightnowpleasethankyou.

          I don’t even trust Gray to handle an issue like this anyway.

        • this has gone to supreme court and has gotten shot down. plenty of people are tremendously offended by the name “redskins” in this town. walk into the National Museum of the American Indian with a jersey on, I dare you. and if you’re going to bring barry, gray and brown into the debate of the washington football team, you can go ahead and add williams and fenty to that list too… don’t discriminate.

        • I think this was an unfortunate incident and warrants discipline from the store. But the Mayor leading a protest outside Safeway because ONE employee in ONE store made ONE offensive remark to ONE couple? Seriously? If you were talking about some pattern of bad behavior, that would be different. But it’s ridiculous to argue that this (as far as I know) isolated incident should be at the top of the Mayor’s agenda.

      • The team name is hate speech.

        Your comments show you’re lack of education and prove my point.

        How can we expect better behavior and a respect for all cultures and lifestyles when we’re totally accepting of hate speech in sports?

        • My education included the use of the word your.

        • While I’m all for sensitivity, I doubt that in this day and age people equate Native Americans, even the slurs, with the scalping, peace-pipe smoking stereotype that bred the terminology in the first place. It’s hardly as fresh as gay slurs. At some point you have to triage this stuff.

          Also, kudos for you for berating someone’s education AND using the incorrect “you’re.”

          • You obviously did not grow up in an area with a large Native American population. If you had, you would know how hurtful “Redskins” and Chief Wahoo are to many in the NA population.

          • Those who are defending the use of the name Redskins: I agree, no one uses it with the intention of it being offensive.

            However, that’s pretty much irrelevant. You don’t get to decide what does or should offend someone else.

            A fair number of people find the name offensive. You can’t say they are wrong for feeling that way, you can only say you don’t care about their feelings.

          • Was meant to be humorous. Irony…oh well.

        • Oh man. You called me uneducated. That really stings. Is everyone who disagrees with you uneducated? What if you disagree with me? Can I call you uneducated? The irony is thick, not just because you didnt use the correct form of you’re/your but you are railing against name calling and discrimination while at the same time implying that those with less educational attainment than yourself have opinions that worth less than your own.

          Im sorry you’re bent out of shape about an almost 100 year old sports team name.

          I’m also sorry that so many people are looking to trivialize anti-gay rhetoric by making false equivalencies.

          It shows your lack of understanding for you to think that using a word as part of a brand is equally hateful as an employee of a major store saying “oh no, here are some fucking faggots”.

          Let me ask, when was the last hate based crime perpetrated against native americans in DC? Because for gays, it was probably last weekend.

          So until you can come up with an equivalent threat of harm or discrimination, you’re just complaining about a word that has been there for decades.

          The Native American population in this country has some serious issues that they are facing, but the name of a football team is not among them. The biggest problem that the gay population of this country faces is the attitude displayed from this woman and everything that comes along with it.

          but, I’m just uneducated.

          • Why does it matter if the team is 100 years old? The Confederate flag is 100+ years old, but some people consider it a symbol of hatred.

            If the Redskins name were instead a derogatory name for blacks, it would have been changed. Just because “Redskins” does not offend you is inconsequential.

            Just like referring to gay men as “faggots” is a form of oppression by one person onto another, constantly being insulted by the name “Redskins” or watching the “Tomahawk Chop” is a form of mass oppression.

            The two events are different, but they are similar in that they a sign of the acceptable racism and bigotry that is endemic among the black population in DC.

          • me

            “Let me ask, when was the last hate based crime perpetrated against native americans in DC? Because for gays, it was probably FIVE MINUTES AGO.”

            Fixed that for you.

          • Like i said, draw as many false equivalencies between redskins and the n-word or f-word, all you want. But its not the same, it will never be the same, and anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty understands that.

            A lot of bad things have happened to native americans and a lot of bad things continue to happen – but if you think there is the type of institutionalized racism and hate toward them as there is towards blacks and gays, then you’re living in a dream world.

          • I guess I’m the only person on here who got the joke?

            JD used the wrong form of “your/you’re” in his education comment to tease the commenter above, because he/she made that mistake first. He was being ironical!

            Lighten up, Francis.

          • I think being shunted off to reservations where unemployment is much higher than the rest of society and adequate services are often nonexistent constitutes, at best, institutionalized poverty and neglect. Also, saying that “anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty understands” that all slurs are not equal is a weak attempt to frame your opinion as being correct and unassailable. It is neither. Slurs hurt the person being attacked and you don’t get to decide whether the person attacked has the right to feel aggrieved or not (or to what degree). Your contention that racism against blacks is “institutional” doesn’t make much sense based on the constitutional safeguards (such as the 13th and 14th Amendments) against such behavior. Does racism exist? Sure. But it exists despite laws, not because of them. You have a better argument for a form of institutional prejudice against gays, seeing as how right-wingers try to deny them Constitutional protections and basic civil rights at every turn. Instead of pushing this “I’m more downtrodden than you” attitude, why don’t we all agree that all bigotry is a problem that needs to be combatted?

          • This is really dumb to play who-is-the-bigger-victim

            FIve minutes ago, five hundred years ago. All the more reason. The time is due for understanding — looks like it’s only being delayed.

            The fact that Indians were wronged hundreds of years ago should only compel you to be MORE thoughtful today — my god how tolerant and kind they’ve been — they didn’t deserve the crap they were dealt — THEY NEVER DID AND THEY STILL DON’T!! (hope the caps made it clear)

            FWIW, honestly, I’ve AAAAAlllways thought the “Redskins” name really sounded ridiculously racist.

      • Has it occurred to anyone that the us of the term “ghetto” is as offensive as the use of the term “faggot”? What we’re really talking about here is ignorance, plain and simple. Let’s call it like it is.


      “A poll of American Indians found that an overwhelming majority of them are not bothered by the name of the Washington Redskins.”

      • Are you suggesting that if 90% of people are OK with something, then @#$% the other 10%?

        Or are you suggesting that you have to be a Native American to be offended by the idea of naming a sports team after an ethnicity, and referring to said ethnicity by a stereotypical physical characteristic?

        • FWIW stands for “for what it’s worth”, so take it for what you will, homey. I wasn’t suggesting anything. But since you’re asking, I’ll suggest this… white people are more offended by the term Redskins than Native Americans. White guilt can be a bitch, I guess.

        • Well, if only 10% of a group that are supposed to be outraged by something are actually outraged, then it’s not quite the problem “political activists” make it out to be.

          Why can the florida seminoles keep their mascot and Illinois and North Dakota can’t? They paid off the tribe.

          That’s not an ideological stand, that’s just blackmail.

          No one likes a blackmailer.

          • The state of ND said that the university could keep the name. Previously, the university was told that they could keep the name if the 2 sioux tribes approved. 1 tribe did, the other refused to vote on the subject.

  • Kudos to the guy who tracked her down and got the apology. That’s amazing.

    • em

      The apology didn’t appear to be very genuine. And now that she’s admitted on camera that she used the slur, she’s got no defense in subsequent firing actions. I hope that Safeway got rid of her first thing this morning.

  • Thanks for posting about this PoP. Just a terrible situation, and I really feel for this couple. I realize a lot of people may disagree with me, but I really find fault with the management of Safeway–while the employee’s behavior was completely unacceptable, it is even more unacceptable for a large store in a chain to be run by people who refuse to take this situation seriously. Are you kidding me? Management should have known better, even if the employee did not.

    I don’t necessarily want to see the employee be fired, but she definitely needs some discipline and to learn a lesson. I’m just more upset that this even had to make news before Safeway started to take responsibility for its employees.

    Boyfriend and I plan on not using this Safeway (we live in the hood) until the company gets its act together.

    • discipline = disciplinary action.

    • I want to see her fired. I’m sure she can quickly find another position at McDonald’s or as a local 7-11 “millabout”.

      If they do the right thing and can her, I wish Ms. Sh’Anequiaa D’Angela Jones good luck in her future endeavors.

    • i would like to see them fired.

      • The only reason I’m not suggesting she be fired is because I’ve interacted with this cashier, and I believe this is probably more ignorance than it is racism.

        But I still say, Safeway management should know better.

        • so a person shouldn’t be fired for ignorance that results in her calling customers fucking faggots? tha’ts crazy.

          stop being an apologist.

          • So what happens if you fire her? She has less opportunity to interact with us (the LGBT community) and learn from her experience. She will be unemployed. I think sensitivity training might be more useful

            I dunno, I’m more inclined to discipline the manager who did absolutely nothing and couldn’t even return phone calls. This woman is young and impressionable.

          • Safeway is not in the business of molding young minds. I think you’re thinking of DCPS or you know, parents.

            Respectfully, the idea of coddling the offending party is as offensive to me as her actions. If you don’t treat her like an adult — with the same expectations you put on yourself and others you view as your peers — you’re part of the problem.



        • so a person shouldn’t be fired for ignorance that results in her calling customers fucking faggots?

          customer service is important and if someone is that rude to a customer they should be canned. also, gay is a race, it’s not racism.

          stop being an apologist.

          • Also, you’re right, I should have used discriminatory.

            How does wanting the punishment to fit the act make me an apologist? I personally think firing this girl over an idiotic statement is overkill. That doesn’t equate to excusing her behavior.

            I’d be interested in what the offended couple in this situation would like to see happen.

          • Say your paid intern called a client at your business a “fucking faggot” twice. They’d be gone.

            You’re applying a different standard to grocery store employees. Social skills matter — esp if half your job is customer relations.

            The fact that she’s lost Safeway business by generating negative press tells you all you need to know about whether she should be fired. She’s a risk and liability for the company.

            Capcha: L5VE

          • kate,
            what if she called you a fucking cunt?
            how would you feel?

            at a 10% unemployment rate you do not get to insult paying customers and keep your job.

          • Kate – in the most inflammatory scenario: what if a white person called two black people “fucking n****s.” You still want sensitivity training?

        • I own a retail store… and if one my employees cursed at a customer they would be fired on the spot – ignorance/hate speech or not. period.

          • Are your employees represented by a union?

          • What 14th Street Heights said above is exactly what I think. Besides, if anything, firing her is the easy way out for Safeway–they’ll can her, and do nothing else, and what will have been accomplished here? She won’t become any less ignorant and Safeway won’t improve its practices towards customers–you’d be satisfied with that?

            Anonymous, you think I haven’t ever been called terrible things by complete strangers? Please, I ride Metro.

    • This isn’t safeway’s fault, this is the UCFW fault. I’m pretty sure safeway nationally or as a coproration, doesn’t have this problem.

      This is one corporation, “UCFW”, being a bad subcontractor to it’s hiring corporation “Safeway”.

      So, eff you UCFW. Clean your house.

      • I think you’re talking out of your ass.

        • Really.

          The Union’s motivations are about treating people, like employees with respect — and this is consistent with treating customers with respect — stop blaming the union. Unionization has nothing to do with this.

          The store has management, and the management needs to document this and fire the employee. Yes. Where is the boss?

  • Knowing how Safeway in the region is managed and having experienced various other levels of nastiness from their cashiers, yeah, you’re probably being a little unrealistic. They just don’t care.

  • I’m sort of new here but I guess I don’t understand what this blog is, and specifically what PoP thinks he is. Is he a journalist? Sure doesn’t seem that way. More like a casual observer. My sense is that a more journalistic blogger would have called Safeway for a comment before making this post. Maybe that’s not how things are done on this blog. Just wondering. Thank you.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      I consider myself a modern day Edward R. Murrow.

      • I’ve studied the career of Mr. Murrow, and you, sir, are no Edward R. Murrow.

        (Yeah, I know your comment was sarcastic, but I guess you proved the previous commenter’s point with your retort.)

        • I don’t think bloggers should be equated with journalists. They don’t serve the same function at all. In POP’s case, he facilitates discussions about things in our city. I don’t think he has an obligation to “get the other side.”

          • Some bloggers are journalists. Some bloggers develop well-thought out arguments and opinions. PoP is not one of these bloggers.

            PoP is, however, extremely prolific and promotes discussions on locations and issues that no one else does. That’s worth a lot to me.

      • Here’s a vid of the clerk apologizing.

      • You’re in luck, PoP, I am awarding you my Edward R. Murrow award for excellence in blogging.

        Sounds like Anonymous does PR for Safeway. Trying to discredit the source and say “oh but there’s always two sides of a story and PoP didnt do his duty to get the other side”.

        I dont think there’s another side to using hateful speech like this.

      • BRAVO

    • PoP isn’t writing an article about what happened. Metro Weekly did that. PoP is simply reposting it and adding his opinions about it, like all bloggers do.

      As for what this blog is, there’s a helpful “About” link at the top of the page that can assist you with that. 🙂

    • because it’s a blog. it’s not the huffington post.

  • This isn’t about the Redskins, this is about that poor couple that was disgraced. I am outraged. That shit is going to hit the fan. What can I do to help get that girl fired? I will NEVER shop at that safeway after reading this story unless they do something about it. I am PISSED right now.

  • I have to say, PoP, I’m not as optimistic as you. It’s hard to believe that anyone living in Washington hasn’t had at least a little contact with the LGBT community. If you live in Washington and you still feel at liberty to say things like that while you’re working, I think I would be inclined to call you a bigot, not a victim of poor cultural education.

    One of the great things about America is you can think anything you want in the privacy of your own mind, and even say unpopular things in your capacity as a private citizen. If you want to be a bigot, I may disagree with you, but I can’t deny that it’s your right. Once that filters over into your professional life, though, society has a right to demand answers. When a checker says this standing behind the register in a grocery store, she is speaking for her employer. If Safeway disagrees with her sentiments, they need to take action immediately. Anything less implies concurrence with her point of view.

    • Very well put (re. the distinction between what you can say in your capacity as a private citizen and what you can say in a professional context).

      Even if Safeway management privately thinks this isn’t a big deal, from a PR point of view they need to take some kind of disciplinary action against this cashier. And they need to train people at the Waterfront store to refer callers to their corporate PR, not to hang up on them.

  • Let’s pass a law to prevent this type of thing. That way, nobody’s feelings will be hurt. Ever.

    My captcha: HUMA. Poor girl….her husband is out of a job.

    • HUMA = Worst week EVER.

      Seriously, Weiner went from a relative “catch” to a zero in no time. I mean, that guy has NOTHING going for him now. No job, no advanced degrees to fall back on, no friends (Clintons and Schumer won’t even return his calls, and J. Stewart can’t avoid the jokes), and no real prospects. If it weren’t for the baby, I would expect her to be dumping him soon…. she still may.

      • Huma, at least, should have a comfortable career. Raising a baby alone won’t be easy, but she could definitely let Mr. Weiner loose and not have to worry about her own professional prospects. He needs her much more than she needs him.

      • Weiner will have a show on cable news in no time. Mark my words.

    • well, there is the DC Human Rights Act, and it includes sexual orientation as a protected class. That’s why the couple was able to make a complaint against Safeway.

      it’s about discrimination, not about “no one’s feelings getting hurt”

  • What happened here was not “beyond appalling.” It was an encounter with an ignorant person that should be confronted, and then you move on. You shouldn’t change your shopping habits because some dumbass called you a faggot. Tell her to fuck off and be on your way.

    The Khemer Rouge was beyond appalling. The Gulags were beyond appalling. The Holocaust was beyond appalling. Somehow I don’t think someone saying “faggot” rises to the same level.

    Jesus, grow some balls, people, and stop whining to PoP over every minor injustice in the world.

    • i take my business where it’s welcomed. i don’t go back to where i’ve been mistreated by employees.

      • I guess Safeway will go out of business now that “cathy” isn’t shopping there. You did it!

        • If enough people decide to shop elsewhere, this employee’s effect on the business will become negative pretty quickly. Say she makes $8/hour, or $100/day, $500/week. If 5-10 people stop shopping there every week, Safeway is already losing money to competitors because of this woman’s actions. Crank that number up to 50 people, and Safeway’s getting hit where it hurts.

          The fact that their PR team has done nothing already to attempt to ameliorate the situation is pretty striking.

        • silly stranger on the internet, don’t assume you understand where i’m coming from or what my intentions are. i made a simple statement, and that’s the extent of my assertion. i enjoy exercising my consumer choices, and i enjoy shopping for groceries without hearing hateful speech from the employees. not a crusader, just buying produce.

      • Having “thick skin” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stand up for yourself. To me, telling someone to “fuck off” and running away is a punk move. It shows you’re afraid or unable to confront people about something that bothers you in an *adult* way.

    • Safeway is worse than Hitler!!!

    • +100.

      also, of course it doesn’t feel good to be called names, but people need to toughen up and move on. it takes more time, emotion, and energy out of you to avoid shopping there and make a big story of it than it does to tell her to fuck off and be on your way.

      additionally, i can’t believe folks are genuinely surprised that stuff like this still happens. the world doesn’t change overnight.

      • You are absolutely wrong. This is an incident that nobody should have to encounter. Toughen up and tell her to fuck off…absolutely yet but Safeway needs to know that we will not accept behavior such as this from their employees and the only way to do this is to write, email, boycott, protest, etc. Racism and homophobia will never end with your guidance.

      • Somehow I don’t think it would be ok for white people to go back to calling black people racial epithets. Certainly, Jesse Jackson wouldn’t agree.

        I’m not sure why there needs to be a double standard for gays.

    • You shouldn’t change your shopping habits because some dumbass called you a faggot

      Seriously people! Grow up! What kind of thin-skinned fool would make a minor change to their shopping habits just because the management of a given store condones their employees treating their customers like shit!

      Get over it, shut up, and keep giving Safeway your money……

      • If you think schlepping up to Whole Foods in Logan to spend double the money on your groceries is a minor change, then you belong with the merry band of morons so prevalent in this town.

        I challenge you to a duel!

        • I right, I forgot they’re in the Great Southwestern Food Desert… Hey, wait a minute! Peapod!

  • i disagree with the author of the blog with the video appology.

    she may not have been crying but she was trying to be sincere about it. she certainly wasn’t laughing about it.

    There is an education gap on this in lower socioconomic brackets in America. so yes lower income blacks and whites say and act in this manner (to the posters calling her “ghetto trash”). Just b/c you know better doesn’t mean someone else knows as well. it doesn’t justify their behavior, but it is a lack of education.
    I mean i know people in their 60’s who still refer to Asians as Orientals. Are they racist?

    • Heh, Orientals. It’s funny how that works. 20 years from now, terms such as “gay” and “African-American” will be considered offensive.

    • Apples and oranges; Orientals is being misinformed. My pap calls blacks folks colored. Not racist one bit; that is how it was back in the day. If they people you know call Asians “gooks” or some other name and my Pap dropped the N Bomb then yes they would be racist.

      You don’t say what that chick said not knowing that is a slur.

    • I watched the video without sound (you’d be amazed how much more the body language comes through that way) and she seemed dismissive and defensive, NOT apologetic.

      I would like for the managers at Safeway to consider how they would react if a white employee called a customer a nigger. And then they should take the same action against the employee who called a customer a faggot.

    • There is a difference between using an outdated term as opposed to aggressively using a term in a way you know is offensive.

    • Not sincere at all.

  • Amazing how somebody who has probably been discriminated against for the color of their skin thinks that is OK to discriminate against somebody because of who they have sex with…

    • Discrimination has been going on since the dawn of humanity. What would be amazing is if no one discriminated against anyone.

    • Same occurs to me when I see black ministers and parishioners protest against gay marriage.

    • it’s not really that amazing, it depends on how you look at each issue. to insinuate that it’s hypocrisy doesn’t really solve anything. people still need to be convinced of things.

  • Just downright trashy & ignorant. The cashier embarrased herself. Safeway not only needs to take action against her, but also work very hard at making everyone feel welcome at their stores. Hope life’s ironic karma puts this cashier’s fate in the hands of homosexuals.

  • If someone breaks out “faggot” on me, then I feel I am completely allowed to break out whatever I choose on that person. I don’t go the expected route – age, race, etc., as that can turn what should be their shame into an equally valid complaint, but against me for meeting them on their level.

    It’s far more effective to make a pointed remark about something in their appearance about which they are likely sensitive (weight, nose, hair, ears, etc.). That’s the comment that will echo through their head for years and years to come at 3am when they are feeling down about themselves.

  • That was a completely insincere apology. Fire her and teach all her uneducated fellow employees a lesson in civility.

  • 1. I am shocked that this person still has their job, so much so that I doubt Safeway knew about this at all. I am assuming with the press its getting now, the person will be jobless forthwith.

    2. That Safeway is a shining example of what happens when you put nice things in the ghetto. That place is staffed with the laziest, unqualified and ghettofied individuals I have ever seen. Everyone, from the cleaning crew to the check out people.

    That place gets robbed blind. They made a huge mistake putting the preped food display right next to the door because groups of kids who are always hanging out outside, walk in, grab food and run out. Rinse and repeat a couple hours later. I’ve seen it happen more than a dozen times.

    The actual “customers” were robbing the place so badly they initiated a reciept check like Costco does (I can’t blame them) to stem the flow. Then the same ghetto mommas and baby-daddies get all upset because they are being treated like thieves.

    Never in my life have I seen a 400 lb black woman try to drive her electric chair/cart out the door with 4 stolen frozen chickens in the basket (she never even pretended to pay, she completely bypassed the checkout lines and tried driving right out the door, store manager was watching the entire time). Then have the woman berate the store manager, screaming at her and calling her a “kept n**ger” (manager was a younger black woman). She started screaming for her grandsons (who were waiting outside in a late model Buick, so I have a hard time believing money was a real issue) to come get the chickens and run.

    It was quite the scene. There happened to be a DC Cop parked outside who intervened. Store got its chickens back but the woman never stopped berating the store manager as a “traitor”.

    • me

      I would have paid to have been there to see that. That sounds absolutely hysterical. Sad, but hysterical.

    • +100

    • em

      It’s not exactly a receipt check – yes, they look at your receipt and make a checkmark, but they don’t compare it to what is actually in your bags. Someone could easily buy a few things so they have a receipt, then put additional unpaid-for items in the same bag, get the receipt check, and walk out.

    • Lemme guess… the thief was not arrested, just had her chickens confiscated and was shooed out the door.

  • I think Safeway has an opportunity to develop a training and awareness program for their employees on diversity and tolerance. They can’t expect to expand into DC neighborhoods and not have a large percentage of LGBT customers. Sending them a message of your intent to shop elsewhere is a good start at raising their awareness. Otherwise, I doubt they will even address it. I have to say that the service at their 5th and K location is not the greatest. This incident will definitely change my shopping choices.

    • Yeah, send them to the Death Camp of Tolerance! (and in case anyone seriously thinks I want people sent to death camps, it’s a South Park reference.)

    • expand into DC neighborhoods?? Safeway has been a DC staple for YEARS. they’re everywhere

  • Maybe everyone should go to the Safeway Facebook wall and post a comment? Maybe send a Tweet also…Safeway may not be managing its stores well but it certainly manages its social media presence!!/Safeway?sk=wall&filter=1

  • Wow, I am shocked that things like that still happen. It’s as if he had ever seen a same sex couple before.

    But I guess I shouldn’t be all that shocked, people in the city are still racist and I feel like we should have gotten over skin color a long time ago.

  • I equate it to the same as if a white cashier dropped the n-bomb in the same manner as some black customers come up to her lane–“oh great, a couple of n—“. The store should definitely take disciplinary action against an employee found to have done that. What that action should be is up to debate–losing one’s livelihood is pretty harsh, and maybe a dock in pay and requiring an apology to the offended party would be enough deterrent–but it’s no different than any other hateful racial slur.

  • pennyworth

    hey, a lot of people have, “traditional” views on sexuality. this situation isn’t terribly uncommon and shouldn’t come as a surprise.

    i don’t care how many transplants live here. dc metro is still the south, people are still bigots and homosexuality is still considered taboo

    just sue safeway and move it along

    btw, if some cashier in … let’s say fairfax dropped an N bomb on me in a checkout line, i’d go through the roof

  • I agree with others who believe Safeway management needs to be held accountable. There was a time when they had a lock on this and many other markets and they’re still running their stores as if people have no choice but to shop there. They have the lowest possible hiring standards, treat their employees like crap and care not one whit when the disrespect gets passed on to customers.

    It IS ridiculous for business owners not to realize this market has the second-largest LGBT population in the country. Maybe they need a boycott to get the message. I won’t be shopping there.

    • There was a time when they had a lock on this and many other markets and they’re still running their stores as if people have no choice but to shop there.

      True. I stopped shopping at Safeway when the HT opened in Hill East. The Safeway that had been there for years was basically a run-down shithole for decades. Rotten produce. Gray meat. Then, one day, we found out that a Harris Teeter was going to open up a few blocks away. Within a month, Safeway was furiously renovating their store.

      The corporate philosophy was to do as little as possible for their customers, using the branches where customers had little other option as a dumping-ground for shitty product. Fuck Safeway. The sooner they go out of business, the better city life will be.

      • saf

        Just like the Petworth Safeway.

      • Regardless of whether it looks nice or smells nice, you will still be buying meat laced with antibiotics and arsenic, and GMO in both the meat and produce there. I’m so glad to live only a couple of blocks from a Yes! Organic.

  • This is why people should learn how to use their cameraphone. If this had happened to me I would’ve whipped mine out and ask her to repeat what she said on camera. I wouldve also recorded the manager saying she couldn’t do anything about it.

  • similar situation at a Starbucks and interesting post you might want to share.

    We’ve gotten to the point that companies need to do some kind of training to avoid situations like this. Just how Starbucks or Safeway is required to have sexual harassment training they need to announce there’s zero tolerance on using the N or F word. It’s not rocket science.

  • the cashier should be fired. period. speech like that to customers is completely unacceptable and a video apology doesn’t fit the bill. i’ll be giving a call later to Safeway for sure

    • Veronika, I hope yesterday was your day off. If not, YOU should be fired for spending essentially the entire day commenting on this post (and, apparently, calling Safeway to complain, following minute-by-minute news updates, etc.)

    • “…Safeway employs and serves people from all backgrounds…”

      Cop out way of saying, “We hire unqualified trash because we only care about the bottom line.”

  • What surprises me more than the homophobic slur/attitude is that Safeway allows its employees to treat customers so rudely. Regardless of whether the cashier was mocking a customer for their sexual orientation, race, appearance, behavior, accent, dress, etc – since when does a company condone its employees being rude customers about anything??

    I’ve worked several minimum-wage customer service jobs, and I most definitely would have been fired instantly for being that impolite to a customer about ANYTHING, even if I hadn’t used an offensive term.

    I get that in real life people are ignorant and rude and sometimes one has to just develop a thicker skin, but I’m surprised that Safeway continues to employee people who represent the company so poorly. Just bad business sense.

    • Exactly what I was going to post, except you expressed it better than I would have. Maybe the homophobic nature of the insult confused the Safeway managers, making it into a “gay issue.” If the cashier had just said “you asshole” to a customer, then the correct management response — fire her — would have been more obvious.

      • Yeah, that’s exactly what I was getting at. To me it has nothing to do with whether or not the cashier is ignorant or uneducated re: homophobic behavior. You just can’t go around hurling ANY type of insults at customers.

    • Right on!

    • There you go. Administrator- please remove all the other comments and leave this one.

  • Appalling. This represents not only the bigotry that exists in this city but also the poor culture of customer service in our nation’s capitol. The curt and brusque demeanor of many folks in this city would give clerks in former Soviet Union a run for their money.

    I applaud the men for doing what they did. I may have been inclined to make a bigger scene by saying loudly to those around me “Did you just hear what she called us?” Shaming and a bit of drama may have resulted in a more prompt response.

  • I was sad when I read the story. After reading these comments I’m depressed.

  • Relatively speaking, gays have it pretty good in DC.

    Now, go to South Dakota, and gays and Native Americans have it pretty shit.

    The fact that we can have this debate in DC (and that Safeway will take it seriously EVENTUALLY) is a good sign. Not to diminish that what happened to these guys is indeed awful, but I am glad at least that I live somewhere where the attitudes of the general populace are moving in the right direction.

  • You don’t call people slurs. You definitely don’t call your customers slurs. This woman needs to go. End of story.

  • andy

    just get it on, like the Chevy Chase-Richard Prior thing.

    If the cashier insults you, ask how many kids he’s got, how many moms they have, how long he’s been off welfare, how long his mom’s been off welfare, what the produce code is for minimum wage, etc….”

  • What kind of retribution is there for anonymous people using “creatively” “veiled” racism on blogs?

    Back to the point. It is disarming to be called a slur. I vividly remember each of the 20 or so times it has happened to me. Especially when there is no other recourse than to “tattle” on the offender.

    I also remember the times that I’ve heard that people don’t like people of my skin color, although they smile in my face.

    Well, at least some people are scared enough of the consequences to NOT say it to my face. Which is worse?

    Anyway, make people fear the consequences of saying these things aloud. Maybe she didn’t know what she was doing, or maybe she did… fortunately/unfortunately she has to be made an example.

  • Filing the complaint with the DC office of Human Rights was exactly the right move on the victims’ part. Feel free to call the store or the company to pressure them to trainor discipline their employees if you want, but the acts of this ignorant employee constitute unlawful discrimination by the company and legal consequences must be pursued. An apology is not enough. We are lucky that we live in a jurisdiction where this is illegal. Given that, any action that suggests Safeway can escape responsibility for the illegal act it already committed by saying it’s sorry or promising to do better in the future is unacceptable. That’s like a victim of sexual assault not pursuing prosecution because the criminal promises to do better in the future, and then letting the criminal off scott freee to assault others. Concerned members of the public should contact the DC Office of Human Rights too.

    • andy

      ah, come on, that’s the real thing you’re supposed to do for a legitimate grievance. aren’t we allowed to fantasize about what we wish would could have done to deliver a comeuppance to somebody who’s unkind for no reason?

  • Come on DC gays? What happened to our sense of fabulousness? Everyone needs to get in their Pride gear, go to that Safeway and have a Pride Parade through D’Angela’s line!!!

  • Ok, so let me get this straight. Two grown men were so distraught over some girl’s words that they have changed their life? And what message does that send? “We’re so frightened by other people’s ignorant beliefs that we’ll run away from them.”

    Seriously, I am all for equality, and she should probably get fired, but we’ve all gotten called names. Grow up. Put down the pitchforks.

    • It’s extremely racist to assume that inner-city African-Americans are too stupid to know that the word faggot is a slur and to hold them to a lower standard than others.

      If you care, email the store ([email protected]), post a comment on its Facebook page, etc.

      • I’m not saying she didn’t know better. I said she was stupid / ignorant. Stupid people say that. She happens to be black. THAT’S racist, for assuming that’s what I meant.

      • Black people call each other n*gger all the time. Maybe they don’t know that’s offensive.

        • maybe you’re a jerk

        • @Anon, just curious, are you black? I’ve noticed, you have an other white posters already had a negative outlook on blacks in DC before this incident. I was sadden to read about this couple, but reading these comments, I became depressed.

    • They should join the Pink Pistols. But good luck with them getting guns in the district.

    • No shit Meg. We are grown up, we’ve been called fags our entire lives and it was never and will never be ok. No business deserves my money if their employees treat customers that way. I’d like to see you continue signing your payckeck over to Safeway if a cashier said you looked like a used whore.

      • And I’d probably point out that a cashier making minimum wage just said I looked like a used whore. Did we not learn from our mothers about Sticks and Stones, Rubber and Glue theories?

        No it’s not ok. But life sucks and people do too. Get over it. The only thing this is doing is pushing hatred underground. It’s not going to go away. No one would dare call a black person a n*gger anywhere for fear of public retaliation, but god knows they probably think it. Which is worse?

        • Fine, you may never teach that person to not hate gays. But at least by pushing hatred underground it’ll be less likely to get picked up by impressionable youth.

          • Yes! I just made a comment along those lines below.

          • You’re right. Because it will never be talked about in the home. It will never be said in hushed tones among friends. It’ll just completely disappear. Totally worked for the black community, right?

            Do not confuse polite with nonjudgemental.

    • Meg, your mature, reasonable view isn’t welcome here. Heck, I humourously pointed out that gays calling straights ‘breeder’ is also bigotry, and the comment got deleted. Not keeping with the narrative I suppose…

      • “Get over it” is mature and reasonable? Sounds childish and unreasonable to me.

        This is not a discussion of bigotry writ large. It’s of a company allowing an employee to insult its customers. I’m confident that the same people who think the cashier should lose her job would also support a gay cashier who called straight customers “F*ckin’ breeders” losing his job.

        • She should get fired. I never said otherwise.

          But we can’t go around crying because of every stupid person’s comments. At some point people need to buck up and retaliate. Not go running to the press about some mean words someone said.

          • Truh in what you say but it sounds as if these folks tried to address the issue with the store manager right after the incident happened but he was not around. The Asst. Manager could not or would not do anything. So these folks went “public” with their story. Sometimes that is the appropriate and best way to “retaliate.”

            I don’t think the cashier should be fired unless this is not an isolated incident for her. She should definitely be disciplined. And my view on this isn’t slur specific. If she had used a racial epithet, I would take the same position.

          • please explain “buck up and retaliate”. actually, i get teh buck up part, so please explain retaliate.


      • Nothing to do with all of this craziness but “Breeder” has to be the most toothless insult in the history of insults. Also a great opener for a your mama joke.

        • when i was in my 20’s i was pretty relieved to be called a breeder when i was out drinking in dance clubs.

          i was all that’s right boys, exit only. and who IS that sexy fag hag? lemme mack on her.

          gay boys usually have hot chick friends.

          breeder is so not an insult.

          • I am straight and willfully childless and call my parent friends breeders. I wouldn’t be offended if someone called me a breeder, but I’d correct them. You can call me many things, but breeder is not one of them.

        • Do they insult lesbians who get pregnant via sperm donation with “breeder” too?

  • Just tried to email the manager, Mike Bigelow. Not sure if this happened to anyone else, but it bounced back as “rejected by the recipient domain.” I checked for typos- but the email address was spelled right. Happen to anyone else?

  • My partner and I (lesbians) have shopped at this Safeway a handful of times. Fortunately, we have only had positive interactions with staff working the floor and the registers. We did have a crappy experience recently with another customer. A man approached us in line and asked my partner if he could cut in (he only had one item). She kindly told him that we were already being checked out so couldn’t let him in. He stood there, stared her up and down, then called her something along the lines of “fucking pussy.” He left the lane for the next one, my partner went after him verbally in a somewhat refrained manner, and after a few minutes he tried to stare me down. Just for the record, the ass was a white man in his late 20s or 30s. That evening, he was dressed like a preppy man from the early 1980s.

    • A DRB! they’re classic. they feed off of Bud Light kegs, wear braided belts, double polos with popped collars and deck shoes as dress shoes…. it’s a special DC breed.

  • Thank you all for posting the email addresses of those we can contact to express our outrage. I can’t believe they haven’t done more. Just FYI, my email to Craig Muckle didn’t bounce back.

  • “Safeway Management” won’t do anything because their employees are unionized. Ever notice an attitude difference between Harris Teeter/Whole Foods staff and Giant/Safeway staff? Guess what the difference is? The latter are unionized…


      please. talk about bs discrimination. hate on organized labor all you want, but you’d be a lot worse off without them.

    • It’s not the fact that they are unionized, it’s the fact that there is no accountability. If the union isn’t holding members accountable to discrimination laws (among other things), then it’s a failure of union leadership, not a failure of organized labor in general.

    • maybe i’d be worse off without organized labor, but the stark difference between giant/safeway and HT/Whole Foods is pretty remarkable. I have personal experience here, as I was a UFCW member when I worked at Giant as a teenager.

      • Personal experience doesn’t excuse your specious logic.

        • Maybe not, but it brings a whole lot more to the table than pure speculation and think tank reports.

        • what!? plenty of think tanks (read: conservative ones) have the same conclusions Eric has and with the same (lack of) real evidence backing them up. It may have been speculation on Anonymous’s part, but it’s “baby with the bath water” logic from Eric. And I think you could make a pretty good empirical case for organized labor playing a significant role in the creation of the American middle class last century.

          • So, when I knocked think tanks, your response was to knock think tanks? well, the conservative ones, anyway. I suppose you’ll tell me that the liberal ones are awesome and loaded with facts to back up their assertions.

            I don’t care either way, mind you, I just think your logic is specious.

          • I understood you knocked think tanks while praising Erics anecdotal “evidence”; however, you failed to understand that I was equating Eric’s arguments with those of think tanks. I could care less about the political bent of a given think tank, but with the anti-union angle, I went with conservative. I’m sure you could apply the liberal epithet in a reverse scenario for any other ideological platform.

        • it’s not specious logic to point out that safeway and giant management’s hands are tied in dealing with situations like this because they have the union to worry about. HT and WF can (and probably would) just fire this idiot.

          • recognize when you are arguing a wall.

          • Eric, i get that the management’s hands are tied due to unions, etc. and cannot take labor-related action like firing, suspending; my problem is that the staff attitudes re: discrimination aren’t the fault of unions *in general*. Two VERY different things there with respect to the nature of unions in our labor environment.

      • there are about a MILLION things different in how safeway and whole foods run their businesses so it’s ridiculous to assume that the difference here is unions.

        • He meant to type “onions”. Safeway has better onions.
          The ‘o’ and the ‘u’ are so close together on the keyboard…

          Anyway, unions are not the issue. It’s the produce.

        • how about safeway vs. harris teeter?

    • Actually, HT/Whole Foods staff also make a couple extra bucks an hour, so the argument could be made that employees differ qualitatively because of wage incentives.

      • Soooooo, the union isn’t doing so much for the Safeway employees, huh?

        Maybe we should stick to the old adage: you get what you pay for. Higher wage = higher quality employee.

  • I just contacted a friend of mine who works for NBC about this.

    They are working on a story for the News tonight.

  • a lot of you are angry people aren’t you?

    • well, yeah. A lot of us get called names pretty frequently because of who we fell in love with (or who people assume we’re dating based on our clothes or hair or how we talk or something). A lot of us have been threatened or beat up or know someone who has for the same reasons. So, a lot of us are fed up and angry.

  • I used to live in SW with my partner in 2008, and I believe we were specifically targeted because we were an interracial lesbian couple. We made every effort not to be “out” in the neighborhood, but they still figured us out. The area’s gotten better but I still don’t think it’s a friendly place for gays.

    • I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience. My experience (gay, but not interracial, lived in the neighborhood since 2009) has been positive or at worst neutral, with the exception of one guy driving through who yelled out his window to my partner and I “are you two lesbians?”

      I don’t actually know if he was from the neighborhood though. And I’ve certainly had similar experiences more frequently in other neighborhoods and cities. There appear to be a ton of GLBT folks in my building, and there are some in local organizations. It’s not Dupont, but I hope queer people won’t be scared away from SW by this!

      • Someone went to great lengths to break into our house and ransack the place, and there were always shady characters standing near our door and flashing their guns at us. We got the message and moved out a few months after we came; it was just too unnerving to live in such a hostile environment. Though from what I’ve heard it’s a block-by-block thing.

  • Terrible… if an employee feels it’s ok to use hate speech in a customer service setting, absolutely nothing would stop her from spreading the same nasty words among her friends and family. Her children will grow up to either be sudicial gays who are estranged from their parents, or another generation of homophobes who continue spreading the hate.

  • I doubt anyone’s still paying attn, but thought I’d bring this up. The Union (in this case UFCW Local 400) has zero choice about whether to represent this worker if Safeway decides to discipline/fire her. It’s a legal standard referred to as ‘duty of fair representation’ and it binds the union to represent all members equally. This happens regardless if they’re white, black, homophobic a$$holes like this cashier, or the WMATA worker who punched McGruff the Crime Dog. There’s no choice on the union’s part. In the end, the matter goes before a neutral arbiter selected by both the union and the company and they make the final decision.

    I’ve been a union member and have been working for unions for more than a decade (and no, not UFCW 400). I, and many staff I know, have rep’d people we wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire…much like this woman. But she still gets representation.

  • I have a friend who works for Paula Deen and she is going to talk about how she will never buy butter again from Safeway on her next show.


    Money talks so why spend our hard-earned money on businesses that tolerate this sort of bigotry and intolerance. Stop shopping at Safeway until they start to care about their customers. Why should we be subjected to subpar standards and unfair treatment by Safeway or anyone else?

    I hope the city council, local ANC and the neighborhood keep the pressure on Safeway to correct this terrible blow to the community.

    • saf

      And why haven’t you been boycotting them all along for the way they treat our city neighborhoods?

      • I’m still stunned at the number of folks who still shop at the SE Safeway in Hill East. I guess three or four decades of treating your customers like shit doesn’t have the same effect as it used to. In fact, it almost seems like the old-timers in the neighborhood choose Safeway over the Harris Teeter–Safeway’s woeful history notwithstanding.

        It’s like the retail equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome.

        “I’ve been buying my rotten meat at Safeway for years! These newcomers with their fancy non-rotten vegetables and love of clean floors! Not for me!”

  • do you all realize just how close this is to capitol hill? DO YOU?????

    • Ha, I do since I live in Capitol Hill and was just thinking I should check out the new Safeway. Maybe I’d better stick with HT.

  • Safeway posted an apology on their facebook page (at least, I’m assuming it has to do with this incident) and stated that the employee has been terminated:

  • the cashier was fired.

    • Why wasn’t management fired? if the manager on duty would have immediately apologized, said she was removing the cashier from the line to investigate and that the manager would also call them to apologize we wouldn’t be discussing this, right?

      I almost feel sorry for D’Angela.

      PS Social Media rocks!!!!

  • So is it alright now to ask just what kind of frozen dinners were they buying that “tipped” the cashier off?

  • @ 16 June 2011 11:54 AM | Anonymous

    I have a young friend who lives on a reservation in South Dakota who surely would disagree with you on that. It was bad in the beginning, and it’s still going on.

  • Didn’t Safeway get tax incentives to open in SW? How come the Mayor hasn’t weighed in on this?

    • Because the majority of the people who voted for the mayor probably share the same worldview as the cashier. He can’t go around upsetting the base, can he?

  • I could be mistaken, but I’ve never seen this many posts on PoP. Again, I could be wrong, as I am often. (often am?).

    • No. I agree with you.

      But, I think it’s because it hits many of the issues here:

      LGBT community, poor race relations, gentrification, bigotry, crappy grocery stores.

      Now, if we had thrown in bicycles somehow along with PG County and the fact that Vincent Gray is a crap mayor, we would have hit 500 comments easily.

      Given the fact that PoP probably also deleted about 100 racist or bigoted comments, it is easily the most popular story in a while.

  • So they fired the woman. I think all of you reactionary anti-union loudmouths owe an apology to organized labor. Also, while you’re at it, go ahead and thank them for the day off tomorrow.

  • What a great place we live in. Someone says something hateful and purely born of ignorance. And then people think the best solution is to “get them fired.”

    I guess expressing an opinion (even a hateful one) is worth them losing their income, yes? Some freedom of speech.

    I’m glad everyone thinks this is the best course of action to “teach them a lesson.” Or is it just another hateful act in a cycle? Attacking them because they’ve attacked you? That always works.

    • Freedom of speech does not mean you get to spew your opinions about whatever you want ON COMPANY TIME. Said company has the right to fire your ass if you are not representing them in the way they deem appropriate, or if you’re not doing your job. Nevermind how wrong she was, harassing customers in a customer service job would count as not doing your job.

    • When I worked in a grocery store I was specifically instructed not to talk to the customers about religion, politics, etc… basically anything besides the weather. A large part of a cashier’s job is to make the customer feel comfortable and welcome, and calling the customer hateful names is surely in direct violation of one of Safeway’s policies. Of course it was an appropriate response.

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