My wife had an incident at Macy's at Carousel Center Mall this past week. She went in to pay a bill. The woman at the counter was taking care of this older couple before her, so she waited. She stated that this woman was really friendly to the couple, talking and smiling and laughing with them, almost like she knew them.

When they left my wife stepped up to make her payment. The woman's mood immediately changed. The woman took the payment stub and check from my wife, processed it without smiling, then instead of handing it back to my wife set it on the counter and turned her back to my wife. And then she just stood there; she didn't have anything else to do, didn't go anywhere, just stood there with her back turned.

My wife was stunned; what had suddenly happened? My wife's not one of those people who often says something, and in this instance she didn't. But she was immediately troubled by the experience, as many of us might be. Of course we've now written the obligatory complaint letters to Macy's here in town and will be sending something through regular mail to the main office in NYC, and a complaint was issued online as well.

Now, here's where we get into these issues of race. It's possible that this woman might have had other things on her mind. It's possible that she was just insensitive to how her actions might have affected my wife's mood. It's also possible that she had left the room when the trainer was talking about good customer service because she had to get something to drink.

Or maybe she was racist. Maybe she didn't like having to wait on a black customer and wanted to show her displeasure. Maybe there was something deeply ingrained in her past that saw something abhorrent in my wife, who people generally like instantly, and decided to protest in her own way. Hey, doesn't Macy's have cameras installed all over the store?

Who really knows? Should it matter? Actually, yes it should matter. Too often minorities are told that they're overly sensitive to stuff, and that they should just let it go and move on. Then those same people wonder why someone takes a physical action of some sort when they're slighted. They're stunned when being told that they have no idea what it's like to be singled out, and to be treated differently. Sometimes, you can't tell someone what it's like to be an invisible man; sometimes, they have to see it for themselves.

I had the same thing happen to me at a Mobil gas station back around 20 years ago. It took the company two years to apologize to me, but I've never gone back to get gas from any of them, though my mother does. My wife will probably go back, hesitantly, because she doesn't hold a grudge as long. I'm thinking that if more minorities held grudges longer, there might finally be some significant change in how we're treated sometimes. Money always seems to talk loudly in the end.