Stereotyping. What’s wrong with it?

Another Wally-World incident. I spend a lot of my time working at Wal-Mart. It’s a great place to visit and it’s almost always good for a laugh. If it’s not the employees then you can usually count on the patrons to provide the humor. The other day I was leaving a store down south and I walked right into a pretty stupid situation. I literally walked out of the front entrance and directly between two people in a stupid situation. Well, in fairness, only one person involved was STUPID.

As I was walking out there was a younger customer yelling at an older (at least 60 years old) Wal-Mart employee. As soon as I was aware of what was going on I stopped and asked the elderly lady if everything was ok. The employee said that it was alright but she didn’t understand why the other, younger, woman was mad at her. So, I looked over at the younger woman, about 25ft away and she was yelling “why can’t I have free groceries?” and “when can I get mine?”, meaning free food.

The obvious question is, what is the young woman talking about? Well, to make a long story short some young guy filled a cart with food and then pushed it out to a waiting car and basically stole about $200-$300 worth of groceries. This happened in front of the younger woman and the older employee. As soon as the employee told me this I couldn’t help but laugh. Did this younger woman expect an old lady to tackle some young guy to prevent him from stealing? Not only would that be against Wal-Mart policy, but the old lady would have gotten seriously hurt.

Now, before anyone starts thinking that this woman was joking and that I misread the situation let me say that this woman was irate and completely serious about getting free food. She was seriously upset that someone got away with something for free and she missed out. This brings up the whole entitlement/younger generation thing but that’s not my point here. This woman was upset and she wanted to know why she couldn’t have free food.

She met a stereotype (in more ways than one) and due to that it was blindingly obvious to me that this woman would not respond to reason. This is where stereotyping saved me time and aggravation. Under other circumstances I might have tried to reason with this woman or explain what was happening in an effort to save the elderly lady some grief. However, the employee said she was fine and I could tell that this younger woman was just plain stupid so I left.

I laughed in part due to the absurdity of the situation but more so due to the younger woman. She was a perfect stereotype of a particular group of people. That’s the best and vaguest way a can put it without possibly offending a reader. And, I badly wanted to ask the younger woman if she realized how perfectly she fit this particular stereotype in look, speech/cadence, attitude, etc. She couldn’t have been a better representation if she were an actress cast for a part. But, she wouldn’t have cared. And, that’s where my interest and involvement stopped.

This woman represents a segment of society and I’m glad they’re pretty easy to spot. These are people that should be avoided. They can’t function in a civilized society and should be quarantined. I know that sounds harsh and maybe I sound a little elitist but this woman was a perfect example of what is wrong with our society. That we, as a society, tolerate this form of ignorance is ridiculous. Oh, and when I say “younger”, this woman was probably in her early to mid 40’s. She was younger in comparison to the elderly employee.

Stereotyping is good. Is it fair? Maybe not always. Stereotyping, profiling, whatever you want to call it, when a person makes a judgement about another person based on appearance or some incomplete knowledge from limited interaction, it can be a good thing.

I know there are always exceptions and someone may point out that con men will exploit certain stereotypes to take advantage of people but those exceptions prove the rule. When a serial killer starts targeting a certain area the cops or FBI will bring in a profiler. It must work.?

My only point is that I believe everyone profiles or stereotypes to one degree or another. Good, bad or indifferent, everyone does it. It’s human nature and it’s part of our survival instincts. Of course it’s not always right but it’s effective enough to continue doing it. I’m not a fan of the whole “PC” movement and I never have been. I don’t think it’s right to go around making generalizations about everyone but when something is too obvious to ignore, I’m not going to ignore it just to be PC.

To quote Huey Lewis, “sometimes bad is bad”.


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