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A Response to "Nurse 'Shamed' by Cashier for Rainbow Hair"

Updated on July 22, 2016
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I have a B.A. in English with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I've been a Goth since age fourteen, and a Pagan since age fifteen.


Articles have been circulating with variations of the title "Cashier Shames Nurse with Rainbow Hair." The title suggests some snobby cashier employee discriminating against a charitable healthcare worker. Perhaps, you imagine a background story for the cashier before you even open the article. Were they raised in a small town? What caused them to be so cruel to someone dedicated to helping others? You may think up a background for the nurse, too: "I bet she studied long hours for that nursing degree, but the cashier is too uneducated to understand what real work is!"

Upon reading it, I was bewildered. The story does not go with the title. Of course, as a cashier, myself, I see customer after customer only care about their own lives, ignoring anything I say—even if it has something directly to do with the transaction. I could voice something ten times, and they still won't hear it. That's the gist I took from this article. After reading countless comments, applauding the nurse and advocating diversity, I have noticed the same goes for all of those people, as well.

What Happened

Nurse with rainbow-colored hair goes to a store. The cashier of her line inquires about the tag she was wearing, and where she works. When the cashier discovers that the woman with rainbow-colored hair is a nurse—a highly respected position—she is surprised that she can express herself so freely. The cashier asks, "What do the patients think of your hair?" In addition, she asks an elderly woman next to the nurse what she thinks of her hair. The elderly woman responds, "Nothing against you, honey, it's just not for me."

Back at Home

Once the nurse arrived home, she decided to post online about what happened. Then, she went on and on about how her appearance has never stopped her "from providing life saving treatment to one of my patients," and "My tongue piercing has never kept me from speaking words of encouragement to a newly diagnosed patient or from comforting a family that is grieving" and let's not leave out her closing argument, "So, please explain to me how my appearance, while being paired with my cheerful disposition, servant's heart, and smiling face, has made me unfit to provide nursing care and unable to do my job!"

Okay, nurse Mary, we cashiers have heard enough about you.

Seriously. We are sure that you're amazing at your occupation, and your need for income is far superior compared to that of a cashier's—even if most of us have impressive degrees which corporate employers feel aren't sufficient enough alone for employment. The struggle is real, right Mary? You not only work at a hospital, instead of behind a counter, sucking up to people who go on and on about themselves as you did, but you can wear your rainbow-colored hair, piercings, tattoos, and so on without anyone reminding you that your choice of appearance alone deems you unprofessional while that potential employer will only grant you minimum wage.

Am I Missing Something?

I find it interesting that not only was the cashier's reasoning for asking questions dismissed as an "insult" when they were understandable questions, but even their name was omitted. Oh, I forgot. We cashiers don't deserve to have a name. Well, allow me to analyze, like English majors do, and apparently my fellow writers failed to do when taking Mary's side—something I will never understand.

Analysis of the Cashier

Question 1: "I'm surprised they let you work there like that. What do your patients think about your hair?"

Meaning: I am aware of the discrimination against creative people. Perhaps, I was singled out during my interview and given strict rules as to how I may present myself for this job.

Question 2: "What do you think about her hair?"

Meaning: You are an outsider and older. Most elders are not open-minded. I have learned this from personal experience.

Appearance and Society

I like to write about how the corporate world enforces illogical dress-code rules. I have written articles on how uncomfortable it is for me to get ready for corporate interviews because it is like wearing a costume. To read that an older woman responded "Nothing against you honey, it's just not for me" is shocking to me. It angers me, in fact. Did the woman respond that way because she knows the rainbow-hair belongs to a nurse? It could be.

In my article "Alternative in a Mainstream Society" I wrote about when I had blonde hair with purple streaks. I was in line to buy a gift for my mother. The older woman in front of me complimented my blonde hair. That was nice. Then, she insulted me for "ruining it with pink." That is how I associate most of the older generations. Mind you, I am not lumping them together, but I have seen most older people speak unfavorably and with great judgement about young creative people as though they know better. So, yes, it makes me angry to have read that a woman could receive a decent response for having multicolored hair, after being put on the spot, when I didn't even ask for the opinion of that woman in front of me who felt it was her place to insult a stranger.

When Assumptions Become Facts

My thoughts of the cashier are confirmed within the nurse's post about the incident. It turns out that the nurse clearly heard the cashier mention not being able to do similar things in other positions; however, she ignored it to talk about her own life: "Then the cashier continued to comment that they didn't allow that sort of thing even when she worked fast food and that she was shocked that a nursing facility would allow that."

Obviously, the cashier was only "expressing" her amazement. See what I did there with "expressing?" I guess customers really don't like it when cashiers express themselves. Perhaps, this is why most companies discourage their employees from showing their creative side.


Why Blame the Cashier?

Contrary to popular belief, almost half of all low wage employees have at least some college education. Whether young looking, like myself, or disregarded because of our current job status, it is easy for society to take the side of the nurse. I can't say why a nurse chose to victimize a cashier simply for asking how she is able to be herself at work, but after some thought, making an inquiring cashier out to be a bully isn't as shocking as a nurse with rainbow-colored hair. Low wage workers are profiled as all kinds of things. Not paying attention to the individuals behind the counters becomes a part of life when it isn't your own. On the other hand, anyone in medicine, whether goodhearted or not, is automatically praised for having the title.

This article is not to bash nurses. It is to speak out against a wrong. Of course, these articles do not gain as much popularity; therefore, most people will not read this or consider how inhumane the cashier has been treated for making casual conversation, but it upset me enough to write this all down. I had my say. All I can hope is that it encourages readers who originally agreed with the nurse and the reporters taking her side to reconsider.

© 2016 social thoughts


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