Dealing with Your Racist Clientele
...and yes, that was a Belle and Sebastian reference.
If, in your line of work, you frequently encounter customers/clients/patients who are vocally racist or offensive, how do you deal with it?
Me: late 30s white chick, fairly geeky looking in a lab coat
Workplace: outpatient lab in a public county hospital near Seattle
Coworkers: From every corner of the globe, literally. I have met people from places I didn't even know had people living there.
1. Patients who refer to black staff members as "colored" or "negro", especially in front of the staff member or other patients. WTF?? I actually had a very average, educated looking middle class, middle aged woman tell me she didn't want "that colored fella" drawing her blood. Just this afternoon a patient called one of the phlebotomists colored to her face. The phleb was obviously hurt and offended by this, and had these crestfallen tears in her eyes as she told me about it. Surely I understand?? Yeah, not so much.
2. Patients who talk to me behind the staff member's back, like they think because I am white I am going to be on their "team". I had an older woman, who was drawn by a very sweet Muslim girl who works here, tell me in a conspiratory whisper "That is so sad! That poor little girl having to be a moooslim! Now she'll never be saved!". (Note: staff member didn't just volunteer this information, I heard the woman endlessly grilling her about where she came from etc, looking for an opening to do the Bible Kato move)
3. Which brings us to the starry-eyed super mega Christians, or "Jesombies". These people find every opportunity to turn the topic of even the most perfunctory conversation into "HAVE YOU ACCEPTED JESUS AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOUR BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!???" Wow, even if I was a Christian I think I would find that intrusive and uncalled for in casual conversation. I just asked for your insurance card! You turning that into Jesus being the only insurance you need make you sound like a car salesman. STFU!!
When issues like this come up I never know what to say. I despise the “smile, nod and pretend to look busy” move because I feel like I am supporting this behavior, but then again this is my JOB and it’s not my place to creating teaching moments for grown adults. Ultimately, I could care less what they believe, I just don’t feel like hearing it day in and day out at my place of work, and I really feel like I should be expressing respect for my coworkers, not to mention trying to spare other patients in the waiting area this discomfort (like the older man who spouted off about “hot Asian girls” while a Korean family sat uncomfortably in the corner) I have asked my supervisors and they have offered no guidance whatsoever, so I thought I would ask you guys how you handle this situation.
Any advice or just want to vent??