Words Also Hurt

On the morning of Aug. 16, the manager of a West Knoxville discount store was preparing to ring up a customer—a man ostensibly there to buy a small quantity of batteries—when the customer announced, "I got a gun, open [the] drawer." The store manager responded with a surprising note of sarcasm, replying, "Not today; just pay the $5.41." The dialogue grew more heated as the hopeful criminal insisted that he did in fact have a weapon and wanted the cash drawer opened. The victim responded, "Are you serious?" as the suspect came around to her side of the counter insisting, "Open the drawer, bitch!"

Here—and apparently not when he threatened the store manager with a gun—is where the man went too far. "Don't call me a bitch, I'm not a bitch, you have no right to call me a bitch," the manager replied. Upon being "called out" for his labeling error, the suspect then tried to explain himself by lamenting his wife's arthritis problem. Surveillance camera footage reveals the man's physical symptoms of nervousness and uncertainty; who can say if it was due more to his daring criminal act or his embarrassment about calling a non-bitch "bitch." Nonetheless, the suspect made off with $271.18 from the cash drawer, but not without an impromptu schooling in the rules of usage surrounding commonly misused slurs.