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Panic Attacks Should Not Be Attacked

| Working | February 2, 2017

(I have been shopping in a store I used to work in several years back. I’m at the checkout with a cashier who is new according to their name badge.)

Cashier: “Oh, no. It isn’t working. Nothing is working!”

Me: “Maybe get a manager down to look at it?”

Cashier: “NO! Why do you want a manager? I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve done nothing wrong!”

Me: “I know that. But a manager will know what to do and can restart it if need be.”

Cashier: “But it won’t work. It just won’t work!”

(The guy starts shaking and ends up on the floor rocking back and forward. The other cashiers are staring, not knowing what to do.)

Me: “Get a manager down, and you — call for an ambulance. I think he’s—”

Cashier: “NO! How could you do this! You don’t know what it’s like! I’ve done nothing wrong!”

(At this point the guy is shouting at the top of his lungs and isn’t taking breaths anymore. He finally collapses as manager arrives to see what all the shouting is for. A customer ended up calling an ambulance because the staff had no idea what to do. After he’s taken away the manager takes my purchases and apologises.)

Manager: “Sorry about that, [My Name]. He’s pulled that trick three times over the past month. He’ll be let go if he’s not careful.”

Me: “Trick? He just had a full on panic attack. Do you have idea what those are like? You need to put him somewhere less stressful.”

Manager: *grinning* “A psychiatric ward?”

(I gave him the coldest stare I could muster and walked out before finishing my purchase. I tried finding out where they guy was to tell him not to bother going back if it’s that stressful for him, but I eventually gave up. I heard a couple weeks later, from a friend who still works there, that he was indeed let go after another incident on the checkout. Mental health is something serious, and I’m sorry that poor guy had to work in such a poisonous environment. The management are awful there, but even that surprised me to hear a manager joking about the mental health of a worker he has a duty of care to.)

This story is part of our Mental Health Awareness roundup!

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