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by Abigail Van Buren

Business Owner Struck Dumb by Customer's Bigoted Rant

DEAR ABBY: I am a small business owner. My store has local (repeat) and one-time customers. The other day, while checking out, one of my local customers spewed out a verbal and extremely bigoted rant. I was stunned speechless. I felt I should do something, but I wasn't sure what it should be. I have started losing sleep over it. If it happens again, should I remain silent and keep the peace, or stand up for all Americans and lose this customer and probably more? -- FREAKED OUT IN FLORIDA

DEAR FREAKED OUT: To paraphrase a well-known saying, "All that's necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to ignore it and say nothing." If the rant your bigoted customer spewed was aimed at another shopper, you had a responsibility to protect the victim of the onslaught. In the future, it would not be out of line to state firmly that you don't want that kind of talk in your establishment. While doing that may (or may not) lose you a few customers, you would at least be able to sleep better than you're sleeping now.

P.S. It may also gain you some customers once word gets around.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics