A customer bombarded a Home Depot employee — one who, as it happens, has been very helpful to my wife and I on numerous occasions — with racist insults:
Most anyone who has worked retail can tell one or two stories about obnoxious customers who believe that spending a few bucks means they’re free to degrade the person on the opposite side of the counter.
Few of those stories compare to the one Maurice Rucker told me the day he was fired from The Home Depot in Albany.
Rucker, 60, was working a booth in the store’s garden center. He was talking to a customer on the phone, he says, when a man with an unleashed dog pulled his cart to the opposite booth and loudly complained.
“He’s slow. He’s just slow,” the man repeatedly said of Rucker.
Initially confused, Rucker decided to tell the man that his dog should be leashed while in the store. And with that, the man lost his cool, letting loose with a string of epithets and telling Rucker, who is black, that his opinion did not count.
“You’re from the ghetto,” said the man, who was white. “What do you know?”
That wasn’t all. According to Rucker, the man told him he wouldn’t have a job if it were not for Donald Trump. He said Barack Obama is a Muslim who didn’t know what he was doing. All the while, he continued to hit Rucker with F-bombs and other incendiary language.
Rucker responded fairly mildly:
Rucker eventually concluded that enough was enough. He left his booth, walked up to the man, demanded he leave the store and added this: “You’re lucky I’m at work, because if I wasn’t you wouldn’t be talking to me like this.”
So Home Depot stood by their employee I’m su…
This happened Thursday afternoon. Rucker was fired five days later.
“We take any termination very seriously and we’re careful to ensure associates are treated fairly,” Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes said in a statement. “In this case, we’re appalled by the customer’s behavior and no one should have to endure verbal abuse, but we also must require associates to follow proper protocol to defuse a situation for the sake of their safety as well as the safety of other associates and customers.”
Just great. And also:
Rucker, who lives in a studio apartment in Albany’s South Mall Towers, had worked for 10 years at Home Depot. He started in a Boston-area store, then worked for the company in Vermont before transferring to its Central Avenue location seven years ago.
His hourly salary when he began with the big-box hardware chain: $12. His salary when fired: $12.78.
Well, that pretty much ties everything together.