Judging One Book’s Cover

Oprah’s in the news this week. An employee who’s probably still kicking herself wouldn’t show her a purse while she was visiting Zurich last month for Tina Turner’s wedding.

Apparently she asked to a $38,000 Tom Ford purse and was told no, that she couldn’t afford it. Some reports say she left the store without purchasing the bag because she did not want the employee to get the commission.

The Swiss tourism office later apologized to O, saying “we apologize that her feelings were hurt.” Let’s ignore how patronizing that apology sounds for the moment, since I’d wager money Oprah’s feelings were not hurt by the incident. Not when she can pull out her black card, call someone and have whatever purse she wants delivered that same day.

What’s interesting is that O later apologized for how the incident blew up in the media. On the one hand, it’s clear she understands how powerful her word is, and that she should be careful. I agree. On the other, you were in this place, this happened, it was ridiculous, it’s worth sharing.

Now let’s get back to the hurt feelings. None of the stories I read covering the incident reported Oprah saying she was upset. She seemed to be relating what went down without undue embellishments or pointing fingers. I didn’t read of any angst or anger. Why should there be? O knows the deal, and it’s not the first time this type of thing has happened to her. Nor is she likely to be shocked that racism exists in the world.

She simply used her platform to make a valuable point: it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have, racism exists, and anyone can be its victim.

Of course, store owner Trudie Goertz called Oprah overly “sensitive,” saying it was all a misunderstanding. But here’s the thing. How can someone misunderstand going into a store, asking an employee to see something and being told no? And if Oprah’s lying, if she is, as Goertz suggests, upset at not being recognized, why demand to speak to her as soon as possible? The best move would be to let it all die a quick death.

It’s hinky, and this scenario seems terribly familiar. I’ve read it many times. Someone doesn’t want to admit they did something wrong, so their natural response is to attack and to gaslight.

It’s okay to make mistakes. Just admit it and try to learn from the experience. Don’t waste time pointing fingers and fueling the flames. It just goes to show, judging a book by its cover can bring about serious repercussions. You never know who you’re dealing with. Treat everyone with respect, however, and you’ll get your commission and stay out of the news.

This post has been edited since it was originally published.