Teenager Discrimination

Not everyone believes that age discrimination is really a thing, at least not when applied to teenagers. I myself have practiced it when I worked retail. I might not have accused any young people of anything but I certainly kept an eye on any large group of them that came into my store and I’ve had to ask a few such groups to leave when they started damaging things. What I’m wondering today is, is that fair? Sure it’s fair to be thrown out of a store for behaving badly but what about the being prejudged part? No, probably not.

Today my fourteen year old daughter had a bad experience in a store at our local mall. It was a party supply store, yes a national chain. She went in with a large group of friends, that was the first check off the list against her. It was all girls, add another check. Ten teenage girls aren’t really capable of being quiet so I have no doubt they were being loud – check. In a group of people who large, the ones actually shopping are going to want different things but they wanted to stay together so they went down every aisle. It didn’t really take long for an employee to get so suspicious she had to say something.

Did she tell them they were being too loud or disruptive to other customers? Nope. The exact quote as repeated to me was:

“I hope you guys know this is not a playground, it’s a store and if you’re not going to buy anything we’re going to kick you out.”

A playground. Can you get any more insulting to a teenager? I think not. I know the employee had no way of knowing if these kids were paying customers or not, but isn’t that the point? As a matter of fact, five of them did make purchases, even after being humiliated.

Now as a parent of a well-behaved kid who has rarely done anything wrong in her life (she’s a people pleaser, poor thing), I’m furious with that lady. As a former retail employee I understand, to a point. I think she handled it badly and that perhaps she needs to not work weekends. I, for one, have never been into a party store on a weekend and Not seen teenagers in it.

My daughter also told me the store was actually FULL of teenagers, mostly in groups, so the party pooper in the party store probably has way less hair than she did this morning.

What would you have done in the employee’s place? For the parents out there, would you be angry?


Sidenote: I wrote for much longer than six minutes today and I’m very happy about it! What’s next for me? Why a story about a fictional grumpy, job hating, teenager loathing villain of course.

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8 comments

  1. Sadly this happens often. As a person of color I’m reminded of the days where we’d be in a group (5 or 6) and the police (depending on where we were) or mall security would happen to show up- even though nothing was wrong or going on. We’d be in groups in the summertime and most of us were related to each other and just happy to be hanging out. I learned long ago not to be angry but instead to waste their time if they were so inclined to follow us. Surely, other groups may have given them reason to be on their guard or show their authority. Our little side job was to prove them wrong. Not every group of teens means trouble- in fact, we made them want to see us due to the fact we didn’t mean trouble.
    I hope your teen understands that it’s not a judgment on them per say, just a judgment on the demographic. May she prove them wrong as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thankfully she didn’t take it personally, although she was a bit confused as to why they were singled out. Of course she thinks that lady is grumpy. We talked about it for a while and she says she understands that this is not the last time it will happen. I hope she handles it the way you did.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Groups of teenagers are understandably red flags, not because of their reputation but because psychologically they are adolescent at mind and heart and they feed off of one another’s wild energies. It’s what’s beautiful about the age, but it is also what is impossible to control. It’s not so much the thing they were doing ,but the potential of what they could do. On average a group of teenagers were more likely to steal, break product, cause discomfort to other shoppers, or murder my hermit crabs ripping them apart limb by limb or seeing how many they can stuff in a take out box. There is a point that the hormones in all of them meld into a typhoon of just crazy and idiotic…and deaf. I feel the associate could have been allot worse, and much uglier. She didn’t kick them out, but offered a reminder over their noise, and probably was frustrated for her surrounding customers.

    I myself having taught 14 year olds probably wouldn’t have thought twice about telling them they were treating my store like a playground, heck, I told my 20 year old employees the same thing. But I had an assistant once who was a real tyrant, she wouldn’t allow teenagers or children in the store in my absence, despite my expressed frustrations on the matter. Children are future customers. Not only that, I would rather unattended teens and children in my store where I can keep a watchful eye over them than someone else’s where anything could happen to them, or they could get into worse trouble.

    Just because you are a paying customer, doesn’t mean you are considerate one. 😉 As a mom though I understand your feeling of not my daughter, and perhaps they weren’t spraying the silly string, or pocketing the candy, but obviously her friends were being loud enough that the associate had to say something for the sake of her other customer’s sanity and comfort. So many fun products in a store like that to not stir up a little mischief, even for an adult. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve never had kids, so I cannot speak as a parent. The only time I’ve encountered something like this in a retail environment was as a convenience store clerk back in the late 80s. We had a posted policy of no more than two unattended school age kids in the store at a time. I was told this policy was because of past shoplifting incidents and one particular group of siblings. I never had to ask them to leave the store, though, because the policy was posted at the door.

    I never encountered it as a teenager, but I was never much of a mall mite. My approach to shopping has always been know what I want and where it is located, go in, get it, and get out… except in book stores.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I worked in retail for five years as a teenager/young adult. I was often discriminated against by older customers while at work. Surely, a 16 year-old didn’t know a thing. What made me laugh was when that customer would go to one of the other employees and they’d refer them back to me, saying, “Go ask Amy. She knows better than I do.” Ha!

    But now, as I approach 30, I definitely have thought things about teenagers in groups. In the same situation, I wouldn’t have said anything unless they damaged store property. Just because someone comes into a store doesn’t mean they’re required to purchase anything. I understand why people get frustrated with groups of loud, boisterous teenagers, but they have just as much right to be in that store as anyone else. I may have thought things to myself, but unless they did something to damage the store, I’d have kept those thoughts inside.

    Your poor daughter! I hope she’s sufficiently recovered.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That employee as a lot to learn about customer relations. A simple “Can I help you find something.” would have better served her purpose.

    On the flip side of things. I remember as a teen going into a local jewelry store. Didn’t matter how many holes were in my jeans. They always greeted me with a smile and asked if there was anything they could show me. I always recommended them to others, even years later.

    Liked by 1 person

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