Sunday, May 20, 2018

Understanding and Accountability

I keep getting told that it's "not prejudice."

I keep getting that patient voice explaining to me that prejudice as a motivating factor is just in my mind.

I keep having explained to me that, essentially, there is no such thing as prejudice against people with disabilities.

After shopping for groceries in my local store, I once again found that the only two aisles that are wheelchair accessible have signs up stating that they take customers with less than 12 items. I have had this discussion with the store managers and supervisors several times. They all claim to understand.

This is crucial.

They all claim to understand.

They all claim to see my point.

This is equally crucial ...

... they all claim that they will do something about it.

So, after being away for a couple of weeks we went grocery shopping yesterday. It was nice to do something so entirely normal and homey. But when we went to pay for the groceries, we encountered the same problem. We had a bunch of groceries, WAY more than 12 items and the two accessible cashiers were designated for those with very few items. We went to one of them anyway and were immediately shooed away by the cashier.

I started making some noise asking where the hell I was supposed to pay. One of the senior staff came over quickly to take down the 12 item sign so we could go through. And there's where the clash occurred. We've spoken before, she and I, several times. I was fed up and tired. I challenged her and the store about blatant prejudice against disabled people as welcome customers.

"I'm sorry you feel that way," she said before beginning to explain that this was my perception but not fact. She was snippy and curt.

Not fact.

No accessible lane for wheelchair users to pay for purchases.

No sense of respect for my frustration.

AND

They knew.

I've talked to them before.

And they claim to understand.

So if they understand they are purposely ignoring the situation and have committed to a path of doing nothing and making no change.

EVEN THOUGH, BY THEIR OWN WORDS THEY UNDERSTAND.

Well that's it for me.

Joe readily agrees.

We are shopping somewhere else.

I had thought that I could bring about change.

I can't.

Because the understand but don't.

And that's sheer bigotry and prejudice.

4 comments:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

DO let their corporate masters know, as well. This is ridiculous - and must be a company policy.

clairesmum said...

I can't speak to this specifically, but in the US most supermarket chains are doing something that makes it harder for ALL shoppers - adding 'self checkout stations' and then only having 2 regular checkout lines....neither of them WC width. At busy times there might be up to 4 regular checkout lanes...and the '12 items or less' lines have disappeared completely. So all the lanes have lines..the self check out line can be up to a dozen people long.
The self checkout line requires a clerk (or 2) to supervise it, as the devices are not easy to use and are designed to make sure that you are not stealing or undercharging an item...
Cost controls to maximize profits for shareholders means having as few 'unreliable' human beings working as possible...too expensive to hire anyone full time, and the fewer people you pay, the more money you save.

so even though a store manager assures you that your problem is understood, there is no interest in preventing the problem from happening to anyone in a WC. Just dealing with the situation when someone complains IS considered a sufficient response, although of course that would never be articulated aloud or written down.

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

It's infuriating enough when they don't do accessibility, but even more so when there is a long clear history of their being very well aware that they need to do this and still just not doing it. It sends a message that they don't value you as a customer. Or as a person.

They might be assuming that, because they do fix the problem as soon as you make it clear there is one, that there is therefore no problem. But if that's their assumption, then they're obviously not recognizing how uncomfortable and demeaning it can feel to always have to keep asking over and over, I need this accessibility accommodation, long after the accommodation should already have been integrated into how they do things. It puts you very much on the spot and that's not fair and also isn't a welcoming environment.

Ron Arnold said...

Also very significant to note: the presence of kindness does not negate the presence of prejudice or discrimination. Even if the manager agrees to talk to you and does so cordially (which didn't happen in this case), doesn't make their practice any less discriminatory.