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    A Disabling Argument

    | Champaign, IL, USA | Bad Behavior, Theme Of The Month

    (I work in the computer department at a major electronics retailer. Another employee is helping a woman who is pushing around a man in a wheelchair while I am looking at tablets with another customer. The woman and the man in the wheelchair leave the other employee and begin looking at tablets at the opposite end of the row. When they move away from the display, I scoot down to show those tablets to my customer. The woman makes annoyed noises but doesn’t say any words.)

    Me: *to my customer* “So, the main differences between this tablet and the ones at which we were just looking—”

    Woman: “You know, you need to learn how to treat people. Just because he…” *motions to the man she’s pushing around* “…is in a wheelchair doesn’t mean we don’t want to look at the tables too! You can’t just walk right in front of us and block our view!”

    Me: “I’m sorry, when you folks backed away from the display table, I thought you were done looking at that one. Here, you can keep looking at this one, and we’ll look at iPads for a bit.”

    Woman: “No! We’re leaving! You can’t treat people like this just because they’re in wheelchairs!” *leaves with her companion, who hasn’t said a word*

    Customer: “That was weird. They left the table. How were we supposed to know they were still looking at it?”

    Me: “Welcome to retail, sir.”

    (After finishing up with my tablet customer, I go to tell another employee about the few weird customers I’d already had that morning. Just as I get to telling him the wheelchair woman…)

    Me: “And the third crazy customer…”

    (Just as I say this, she storms up the aisle screaming loudly enough that people from across the store are looking, now without the man in the wheelchair, which means she must have left him in the car.)

    Woman: “You! You need to learn how to treat people! You can’t ignore people just because they’re in a wheelchair! You think you can just walk in front of us while we’re looking at things because he’s in a wheelchair!”

    Me: “Ma’am, I didn’t mean to block your view. Can I explain what happened from my perspective?”

    Woman: “No! I know what happened! I don’t want to hear your lies! You can’t lie to me!”

    Me: “Ma’am, you left the table. The other customer I was helping also thought you were done with that tablet. It had nothing to do with anyone being in a wheelchair. I am sorry that I moved in while you were still interested in looking at that tablet, but I did offer it back to you right away, and you decided to leave instead of accept that offer.”

    Woman: “What’s your name!? I’m reporting you to a manager for lying and discriminating against people in wheelchairs! And I’m calling corporate to report you! That’ll teach you a lesson about treating people in wheelchairs fairly!”

    (The customer is now crying and letting out the occasional loud sob.)

    Me: “My name is [name]. Feel free to report me if you think that’s what you need to do.”

    (As the customer leaves, I turn back to the employee to whom I was talking before the crazy woman returns. He has been watching the whole incident with a shocked look on his face.)

    Me: “So, I guess now I don’t need to fill you in on how crazy that third customer was.”

    (My very next customers were an older couple that waited for me to free up because I’d helped them pick out a computer before and they thought I gave them excellent service. The couple was a woman who was pushing the man around in a wheelchair!)