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Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Oprah Winfrey Incident

The amazing Ms "O"

So, the story goes that O was travelling in Europe and stopped in a boutigue shop selling handbags that  employed as a sales assistant, someone who, we hope, learned a valuable lesson.  O appeared to be just another American visitor with none of the trappings to make her stand out. She noticed one of the handbags was being displayed in a locked cabinet. It took her fancy, so she asked the sales lady to bring it forth for inspection. The bag cost $38,000. The lady decided that it was too exxpensive for any black person to afford so she would not even bother to go through the process of fetching it as requested.

O was bemused: She had been racially profiled; and secondly she had met someone on the planet who didn't recognize her. Even before she had left the city the whole world came to know about the incident, which had led to the store owner apologizing, the country's chief minister apologizing, and even O herself apologizing as it was not her intent to make such a big deal of it. She simply hoped that sales people everywhere would learn a lesson from the incident and to not make assumptions in the future.

O is entirely correct about that!

Many wealthy people live their wealth in every way, and when they are in your presence you know that here is a really rich person. Others, mainly old money, who have been through that phase and have learned that it can be both dangerous and a nuisance when people know what you have, changed their approach and are selective about living their riches. I came to know a billonaire over many years, and I got to know his habits. He generally dressed down when simply going out and about his daily routine, and even though we were living on a small island, the man in the street would just pass him by as though he were invisible.

He lost his wife due to illness, and that put him in an impossible position. He couldn't just hope to meet someone who might fall in love with him just based on his personality. Women all over the world were perfectly aware that he was lonely and that gave him nightmares.

Other rich people might walk into any store looking as though they could really use a good meal and a bath. This is a security measure that allows them to slip around under the radar without a contingent of bodyguards. The one thing they have in common are charge cards with  high limits. In the case of O, if she wished she could have bought about 75,000 of those bags at $38,000 each. In the event she didn't buy the bag, which is justifiable punishment for those involved.

So, the moral of the story is: sales assistants, all you need do is follow through on your customer's request. If you are asked to show a particular piece of merchandise, just do it! You may not have any idea  who you are dealing with.

Copyright (c) 2013   Eugene Carmichael