Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ashamed To Be A Jew??

Generally, I try to take pride in being a Jew. I know I'm conspicuously Jewish. I wear my skirt among jeans, I wear long sleeves in 95 degree weather, I button my polo shirt to the top, and all that stuff. I know I look different, and I'm proud. Sometimes.

Earlier this summer, however, I was ashamed to be a Jew.

I entered the Wal-Mart in Monticello. "Just don't notice I'm jewish," I muttered under my breath, and furrowed my brow in concern. I looked around nervously. I bit my finger. I noticed some locals who probably viewed at me as an intruder. "I'm nothing like them!!" I wanted to shout. "No, you don't get it! I don't return used air conditioners. I don't mess up your aisles. I'm unobtrusive, really..." I can continue babbling, and I probably would. And I'd probably make a worse Chillul Hashem describing them and all they do than they do themselves just by being there.

I recently had to return something to Wal-Mart. I had the skirt with the tags still on, but I didn't have the receipt. I got in line at Customer Service. "Should I make a joke about not returning an air conditioner at the end of the summer? Just so they shouldn't think I was "that type"? Should I be really friendly to the woman behind the counter? Should I just not return it? but I do have the tags on..." I asked my friend. She shrugged her shoulders, and looked at me knowingly. I was embarrassed.

It was my turn, and I just said, "I'm sorry, I'm not an expert on returns...I never return anything...I don't want to get a reputation for being a frequent returner," I told her as I filled in the papers. "Oh, don't worry, you only have 3 returns every 6 months," she informed me. Then I felt stupid for using one of them on liquid soap that cost $1.47. But the pump thing broke on the way home from Wal-Mart--I couldn't even use it.

Was I imagining things or did the Kosher aisle look particularly messy? Coincidence? Or did Wal-Mart neglect it because they're anti-semites? You tell me.

I mean, we know we contribute to their economy, and essentially, we're doing them a favor and all that, but that doesn't mean that they aren't "hosting" us, and we must display Hakoras Hatov, and make a Kiddush Hashem so that they won't dread the Jews. Oy, but "Eisav Soneh L'Yaakov..." so they'll hate us regardless. That's a great reason to return a used air conditioner.


At 8/24/2006 7:27 PM, Anonymous Gavi said...

When I have to return something, I just return it... But no, I do not return used air conditioners at summer's end. But if I am reading in between the lines correctly, you are commenting on the unfortunate tendency of Jews to sometimes not behave as best as we could. What keeps me on my toes is "Talmid chacham im begadav metunafin chayyav misah" - I can't say I never have stains on my shirt, but I do try to keep my clothing and actions respectable.

At 8/24/2006 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like the whole mountains scene at all but what made me sick are the chassidim who drive around at three in the morn picking up the cheap hookers in montecello.

At 8/25/2006 4:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON Why are you such a misnagid????

At 8/25/2006 4:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on do you really believe all those exaggerations. When Readers Digest had an article about places with highest food stamp fraud, Brooklyn wasn't among them.

At 8/25/2006 10:58 AM, Blogger Semgirl said...

Michelle...All I am going to say is that Wlamart corporate headquarters in Arkansas has computer codes, no returns on baby-items for 08701.. Need I say more...

At 8/25/2006 11:00 AM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

SG- that pure BS
(although for some other stores it is true)

At 8/26/2006 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of Chassidim have an entitlement mentality. They feel that because of the Holocaust, the world owes them everything, and that's why so many of them take, take, take.

And your last point is valid - people use the Eisav sonei Yakov line to justify acting like idiots and making one chillul Hashem after another.

At 8/26/2006 7:29 PM, Blogger skepticbentorah said...

a few points from someone who has lived in the mountains for two years(ya winter too)
-when the summer months came around i was so surprised how the atittude of the workers in wal-mart some of whom i personaly knew changed.they pretended like they didnt even know me b\c iwas wearing a yarmulka, i was one of them jews. i dont know if the jews are totaly to blame but just the drastic contrast of the volume of the customers from winter to summer is just too much for those hick people to deal with. yes, sometimes its embarassing to be one of them, but i think the pros outweigh the cons.

At 8/26/2006 8:41 PM, Blogger Y.Y. said...

all year they can be lazy and not work for the store is empty when the summer comes the store is suddenly crazy busy so the workers are pissed that they have to work!

At 8/26/2006 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tone of your blog really disgusts me. A Jew should never refer to his own people as 'them'! nor should a Jew ever be ashamed to be a JEW!!!
Just as it is one's right to buy products and spend their money at these stores, so too, it is their RIGHT to return.
While return policies are abused- they are abused by people of all kind. The stores would not have these policies in place- for naught. It is because of these good return policies that increase purhcasing. The knowledge of being able to return items bought for whatever reason , whenever.
Act politely and pleasantly, be confidant of what you do. There is no shame in returning.
The weakness is in yourself. There is no need to 'explain' yourself to some counterperson 'that you never return etc.. etc...' It is your right. They don't ask you why your buying it, do they? it's not their store, nor their money...
Frankly, most of them DONT care.

At 8/26/2006 11:28 PM, Blogger Orthoprax said...


"Just as it is one's right to buy products and spend their money at these stores, so too, it is their RIGHT to return."

Someone sure sounds like a Palestinian...

But in all seriousness, I hold Jews to a higher ethical standard than other people and Jews shouldn't be taking advantage of the system just because they can get away with it. We should be proud of Jewish conduct and see each Jew as an exemplary citizen, and not justifying crappy behavior as a "right."

At 8/27/2006 12:54 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Orthoprax--we finally agree :-)

Yeah, I admit that being ashamed of being a jew isn't good. Did I say that proudly? That's what blogs are about, you gutless anonymous-- confronting our issues. We don't all write about what great people we are, although it seems if you'd blog, that what's you'd do. If I disgust you, you don't have to read my blog. I am happy to have readers, but not ones that are "disgusted," and are immature enough not to ID him/herself.

Yes, about the entitlement: great point, I hadn't thought of that one.

Semgirl--sorry, I find that hard to believe. And hey, who says they don't return other things? What about Target? Gap?

At 8/27/2006 2:00 PM, Anonymous something anything?!? said...

hey anon 9:03,
Do you also defend those who 'buy' a suit at a heimeshe store and then return it with the dry cleaning tag still attached? These scam artists (I am not referring to chasidim or any other person or group - just the scammers) should be mussared out by their spiritual leaders regardless of whether they are scamming a walmart or a chaya's clothing store.

BTW, I am certainly ashamed to wear a yarmulke in many places. Sometimes i do and sometimes I don't. But I always think to myself that I am proud of who I am and I won't let those mechallel shem shomayim-nikkers take that away from me.

At 8/27/2006 2:11 PM, Blogger skepticbentorah said...

anon 9:03
if you're so proud of those jews who disgrace the religion and make other upstanding jews so uncomfortable with their belief that it brings them to hide what they are supposed to be proud of, why do you remain anonymous? why dont you stand up as the leader of these people?
Shame on you ONAN

At 8/27/2006 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 9:03
I am the original poster. sorry i don't have a blogger account.
my name is sara
now does that help you a whole bunch???
if you don't respect my point- that's fine. I didn't say Michelle disgusts me- I said the tone of her blog...I think my point is valid- if you can't 'get it' fine.
No need to attack me personally.
After all this is blogsphere!

At 8/27/2006 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just to answer something, anything...
I don't defend anyone who returns or doesn't return. My point was that it is a right of the buyer to return.
The owners of the store create this policy- because in the long run it works out for them. How you may ask?
How many times do people chose to buy their item(s) in costco or wal mart etc.. rather than in their local store? Because of the return policy!! if need be they CAN return it. No questions asked. Do most pple come back and return their stuff? NO!!
And most pple who do return stuff- spend those same dollars and more dollars again in that same story.
[and I did have a nice little chat about this the Costco manager at my local costco]
He says that they don't even ASK why someone is returning something.
They don't care. That's the policy and that's it.
I am NEVER ashamed to be a JEW. and I am apalled that any JEW would be.

At 8/27/2006 7:49 PM, Blogger Orthoprax said...


"we finally agree :-)"

Hey, stranger things have happened. ;-)


"I am NEVER ashamed to be a JEW. and I am apalled that any JEW would be."

I don't think anyone here is ashamed of being a Jew qua Jew. People are ashamed of being associated under the same rubric as these other Jews who's behavior they do not approve.

When we hear of Jews accomplishing great things we are a little bit prouder. And when we hear of Jews doing terrible things we are a bit ashamed.

"My point was that it is a right of the buyer to return."

And my point was that there is no such "right." It is clearly a business plan where these stores accept such returns and so you can exploit it, but it also an example of poor character when you aren't buying something in good faith.

Just because you can do something does not mean that you ought to.

At 8/27/2006 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what will happen when Sarah has a store and all the schmucks come in, buy stuff, use it, and return it. Let's see how she'd feel then.

At 8/27/2006 9:12 PM, Anonymous something anything!?! said...

To defend Sarah (in a sarcastic way), the policy in lots of stores in Jewish, nay FRUM, neighborhoods is a no-return policy. These business owners have been stung and they will not fall for it again. They know their customers. As a result, the rest of us suffer. If people would just be more mentchlich and not rush out to maximize their gain on the backs of their fellows, maybe flatbush would be a nicer place to live. oops, we were talking about the wal-mart in monticello. I guess I got carried away.

At 8/28/2006 12:57 AM, Blogger smb said...

"Just because you can do something does not mean that you ought to."

So agree

At 8/28/2006 9:48 AM, Blogger Anti-Vaad said...

Great post M. Lets not generalize about various groups but this is something that certain segments of our community have to improve upon. We live in a world that does not belong to us and we shouldn't treat it like we own it.

Anon said...
"The tone of your blog really disgusts me. A Jew should never refer to his own people as 'them'!"
Why not? Where do you find a source that it is improper to be embarrases when one of our own engages in improper conduct?

There is a certain code of civilized conduct that is unspoken in American society. When members of our community ignore those norms and take advantage of the letter of the law, they create a situation where none of us can enjoy the freedoms that are otherwise afforded.
Case in point: Frum stores don't let back legitimate returns due to the bad experiences that they have had with fraudulent returns.
Don't bash Michelle for a great post!

At 8/28/2006 3:57 PM, Blogger PushingDaisies said...

Good post.

At 8/29/2006 7:37 AM, Blogger koko chassid said...


At 8/29/2006 8:52 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Yes, perhaps I should have written, "Ashamed to be viewed as Jew"? I don't know. Thanks again to Orthoproax for helping clarify.

Also, I worked in a Jewish store, as my long-time readers recall. And I see a lot of what goes into running a small business, especially in the days of Wal-Mart, Target, and even small local competetion. If she doesn't accept returns, people will just go elsewhere. However, accepting returns sometimes means swallowing some money, which ends up cutting into her profits. The companies don't necessarily take back merchandise...
But yes, we are talking Wal-Mart. And I agree with the commentor who said that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. The rules are there to benefit honest customers. The skirt I purchased did not fit. I didn't wear it. So I returned it. I didn't wear it every day of the summer, and get tons of use out of it, and then decide to return it for $15 in my pocket. Come on.

At 8/30/2006 5:33 AM, Blogger Eshet Chayil said...

What and you think that the hick in the south returning half-eaten snickers are any better? It's not "us". It's not "them" It's human nature. Michelle, you're one of "them". you're one of "us" you're a person and you're a jew.

Anyone who can group all jews into one click of "those cheap jews return everything" don't deserve to judge you anyway. Walk proud. you can and should.

At 8/30/2006 11:24 PM, Blogger MeabedAtzmo said...

i agree that its an issue, whenever i want to return something I alwyas think twice. (although that doesn't help much usually :-) :-).

excellent point though

At 8/31/2006 4:49 AM, Blogger notahottie said...

ok so a lot of people said what i would say, but i just want to reiterate that while it's embarrassing that there are some jews who do this chronic returning and return used products (which btw for those who think it's their right to return, it's only your right if you're returning the product as it was purchased!), those are a few rotten apples who ruin it for the rest of us. it's sad that we have to feel wierd, or like we don't want people to know we're jewish because we know that they already have a preconceived notion about all of us based on only a few of us. the best we can do is act curteous and respectful, but no more than that. because the truth is, there are plenty of liars and cheaters out there, but when one jew does something like that, it's the way of the world to point it out and start blaming everything on us, so it doesn't pay to kiss up to them when they're just gonna think what they want anyway. it's not our job to change their minds, it's our job to be good refined kind people who go about our daily lives in a true torah way.

At 8/31/2006 6:58 AM, Blogger Scraps said...

There's a difference between being ashamed to be Jewish and being ashamed to be associated with bad behavior that is unfortunately prevalent in a large percentage of the downstate NY Jewish community.

At 8/31/2006 8:08 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

scraps--yes that it was i meant

At 9/02/2006 10:37 AM, Blogger Kiara.O.Ketina said...

i don't like that you are implying that you are ashamed of your own people.shame on you.

At 9/02/2006 7:13 PM, Blogger Michelle said...


At 9/05/2006 7:50 AM, Anonymous Schmerel said...

I agree, I also think seven times before I return anything, not wanting to be viewed like the others (which by the way, aren't only members of our community). To the point that the soap pump thing you returned, I probably would have kept it and swallowed the three dollar cost, maybe shifted the contents to another soap dispenser. Even though there is no reason for me to have to do that.

Having said that, Sara does have a point. Mostly, the counter person wouldn't care, it isn't there money. I am sure when it comes to other ways to rip off Wal-Mart (like goofing off during their shift) they aren't as annoyed. In most cases the ones that are annoyed are anti-Semitic/racist long before this, and this is just one of the ways that they show it. However, being that I know that they use this as an example, we should go beyond what is right to show that we are a nation of princes, not just ordinary people.

It is because Aisev Soynah L'yakkov that we don't need much to trigger the soyneh.

At 9/20/2006 3:21 PM, Blogger bluezdog said...

I am neither a Jew nor one who hates Jews, nor do I work at Walmart. I sympathize with your nervousness at the return counter--I, too, have noticed people making outrageous returns to their own advantage, regardless that they have used the product to tatters.

I wanted to comment, however, on your thoughtlessness when viewing the kosher aisle which prompted you to wonder if Walmart was anti-Semitic. Who is Walmart? It is a store, a company, a corporation. It (not "they) only wants to exchange goods for money, which is called business. The fact that any aisle is messy can ONLY be attributed to some clerk regardless of national origin who is not doing his/her job.

Careless thoughts in a post place hatred in the minds of people who are without minds of their own, so please be careful.

At 10/05/2006 5:35 PM, Anonymous justcallusbloppy said...

whats wrong with returning? yeh its wrong to return sumthing used but no one is gonna think ur doing that and if they do they are being oddly suspicious

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