How Fire Emblem: Paths of Radiance lead to me sending a smack-down to EB Games.

Admission: I’m a big video gamer, I own a Nintendo Wii and I cart my DS around with me everywhere. I kept my PS1 until it started spinning dust, I still have my childhood Sega Genesis sitting underneath my TV and I got prickly when an ex-boyfriend ‘won’ custody of our shared Dreamcast. That and I’m quite proud of all these facts.

I usually only shop from independent gaming retailers, but I have been known to stray into EB Games from time to time. This has been happening more frequently now that I live and work very close to a mall where EB probably has the only real selection of video games (apart from some surprises at Toys R Us.)

Today after work I decided to stop into the local EB to take a look at what used games had popped up and check on the ever-changing GameCube shelves. To my surprise I saw not only ‘Fire Emblem: Paths of Radiance’ but ‘Chibi Robo’! CR was unopened and new, and the Fire Emblem was used. Hemming and hawing over my luck, but also the price tags with them, I decided to get an opinion from the clerks (who didn’t acknowledge my presence in the store, despite my standing in the Wii section directly beside the cash register.) The man at the register was perhaps my age if not a year or two older and he redirected me to the nervous cashier ‘John’ with whom I was already familiar with from previous days of browsing. But when it became clear that I had a real question, the other employee took over for John.

I presented Fire Emblem and Chibi Robo and asked which he would recommend I buy since I didn’t have money for both right now but I had been searching for quite awhile (basically, which would last on the shelf longer until I could come back). The older cashier suggested Fire Emblem, as it was so rare they got a copy in the store. Chibi Robo on the otherhand he told me, came in every month or so. “Really? I’ve been looking for that for 2 years!” I said, half jokingly, but quite definitely exaggerating (it’s been only a year since it’s release) to which his response left me speechless. “You should be spending less time with your boyfriend and more time at EB then.” I couldn’t speak, I stuttered, and his response was ‘Oh just kidding’ and he turned his back on me and went back to stocking. Before I had a chance to think I receieved an important phone call and moved to the back of the store, still clutching the games in shock from what just spewed from his mouth. After my phone call I placed both of the games back on the shelf and walked around the mall to cool off. I was fully prepared to write a complaint to EB about this staff member and his conduct, but instead decided to ‘Finish Him’ as it were, rather than having nothing happen through the chain of command.

I went back to the store, identified my opponent and engaged in the conversation. “Can I get your name?” I asked, to which he looked visibly awkward and answered ‘Matt, but what for?” I explained to him, firmly, that I was offended by what he had said to me, not only as a customer but as an individual. Whether he was trying to flirt with me, figure out my sexual orientation or just lead a crude joke, it was inappropriate and offensive. Matt stammered and apologized several times about how it WAS crude but it was just ‘a joke’ and that he apologized but meant nothing by it.

I could tell he was shaking, and I could see that none of the other employees were coming to his defense. The younger one, John who had witnessed what Matt had said to me had even given a bit of an alarmed face when the comment was made and he kept his distance from our confrontation. Matt was apologizing, but ‘as a joke’ and I wanted him to realize what his comment had cost him in terms of respect for him and his store, that saying stuff like this to customers was not appropriate. I ended our awkward confrontation by letting him know that despite my query, I was planning on purchasing BOTH games (for upwards of 100$) but that I was taking my services and money to a company that had employees that respected their customers, and then I left.

What I learned from confronting him was that from his tone and stance when I came back, he KNEW he had done something wrong. Perhaps if he had actually apologized at the time it came from his mouth when he saw the look on my face, I would have been much more forgiving as opposed to offhandedly calling it a joke and waving it off. I’ve had an instance where I said something quite personal to a customer and after realizing I encroached that line, apologized immediately. (To be fair, that was a regular at a coffee shop, this incident at EB was with a cashier I wasn’t familiar with at all.)

Another thing I noticed as that there were four staff members on staff in this small floor, I’m sure one was a manager or assistant, and they fully ignored this confrontation. They made no attempt to save their co-worker or sooth me. I wasn’t yelling, but I project quite well and had just enough fury to come off quite well spoken. If this had occurred in any retail store I have ever worked at, the manager would be SPRINTING to intercept this type of interaction, instead, one of the other employees redirected a boy asking about a video game from the corner in where I was speaking to Matt.

Unfortunately I am no stranger to sexism at EB, I had experienced it before when I overheard some young male employees (I say this because they were both 20 and under) mocking me when I went into a different location to look for DS games the summer before. I didn’t hear the exact phrasing that time around and was not nearly as comfortable with confrontations as I am now, or you can bet your shit I would have engaged them too.

As a gamer, it still bothers me now, as I really wanted the games, but obviously I believe my pride is worth more than caving to EB and their insensitive staff and I’m sure most who read this will think so too.

*All names have been changed

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