Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Help Me Howard: Called Her Names
She was shopping for new clothes until a store clerk said something that broke her heart. It was certainly rude, but is the insult a crime? It's why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- In the morning, Cat Armuelles could not have been happier.
Cat Armuelles: "I was really excited, because I just found out I got hired that day. I was really, really happy."
In the afternoon, she could not have been more upset.
Cat Armuelles: "And I started to cry as I told him the story."
After Cat found out she had been hired, she went shopping for new clothes. And after trying on outfits, she walked out of the dressing room to find the sales clerk looking at her selections.
Cat Armuelles: "And then she said, 'Gorda.'
Patrick Fraser: "Meaning?"
Cat Armuelles: "Meaning 'fatty.' She basically called me a fatty."
The clerk then turned around and saw Cat standing there.
Cat Armuelles: "And she looked shocked. And I said, 'Hello.' She didn't say anything. I was expecting her to say something like, 'Oops' or 'Sorry' or something."
The clerk was shocked. Cat was stunned.
Cat Armuelles: "I felt humiliated. I felt angry. Very hurt."
When the clerk walked away, Cat asked to speak to the store manager who also didn't seem too concerned.
Cat Armuelles: "I never heard, 'I am sorry' or 'Please wait. I am so sorry this happened to you' or 'Let me go get that employee.' I didn't hear any of that."
The cruelty hurts Cat, especially because of what caused her weight gain.
Cat Armuelles: "They don't know that I had a car accident a few years ago and since then, my physical deterioration has hindered me from being as athletic as I once was."
Parents always tell their children, how would you feel if someone said that to you? This clerk had never felt a fatty insult.
Cat Armuelles: "The girl who said it was very slender and had long, blonde hair. So it was just like, it felt like a stab."
And after insulting Cat and getting caught, Cat is convinced the clerk didn't really care.
Cat Armuelles: "I know that there is teasing in school when you are growing up, but you would hope that by adulthood, people could kind of get past that immaturity."
The cruelty is something Cat is not used to, and certainly doesn't think anyone should have to endure it from a sales clerk.
Cat Armuelles: "I think it's really ironic if someone were to yell 'Fa*#ot' or use the 'n' word, if they said that towards someone, it's considered part of a hate crime. But for someone to call someone else a 'fatty,' it's not considered some sort of degrading term."
Well Howard, to call someone 'gorda' or 'fatty' is cruel. But is it a crime?
Howard Finkelstein: "Someone's physical appearance, their weight, their height, their lack of beauty is not what the law calls a protected class, and therefore legally, it's not a crime or against the law. Insults are protected under free speech. However, it's uncivil, it's poor manners, and it's cruel."
When I called the store and asked to speak to the manager, a guy got on the phone and told me he had no idea what I was talking about, that he had never talked to Cat about an employee calling her 'fatty,' and to be blunt, he really didn't seem too concerned about it.
Howard Finkelstein: "A well-run business does not allow their employees to belittle their customers, because it's not just rude, it's bad for business, because if you insult a customer, odds are they will take their business elsewhere and tell all their friends to do the same."
Cat will take her business elsewhere and hopes even if the employees are going to be rude, at least learn from this.
Cat Armuelles: "You know, when you are in the service industry, you might make fun of someone, but at least have the decency to go in the back room where they can't hear you."
Patrick Fraser: "At least Cat can find something in this to laugh about. And people who love to make fun of other people are amazing. It must be nice to be perfect."
A cruel, cruel situation crushing you? Ready to remind them of the manners a 5-year-old knows? Try us on for size. We don't have many muscles in our bodies, but we will try to throw our weight around.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD: