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This Customer Keeps On Ramping Up

, , , , , , , | Right | September 18, 2023

I have a disability that requires a wheelchair, but when required, I can stand for a minute or two. My friend and I are entering the store where we both work, and the wheelchair ramp is blocked by someone using an electric wheelchair that seems to have run out of juice. I can see him arguing with an older woman, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be resolved any time soon.

Not wanting to be late for work, my friend asks me:

Friend: “Think you can make it up those five stairs or shall we wait?”

Me: “I can do those five.”

Very clumsily, I get up from my wheelchair, and holding the rails, I make the slow climb of five steps while my friend carries the wheelchair. I’m not even halfway up when I hear the other customer in the electric wheelchair shouting at me.

Customer: “Are you mocking me?!”

Me: *Getting back into my wheelchair* “What? No.”

Customer: “Yes! You are! You’re calling me fat and mocking my disability!”

Me: “I’m lucky enough that I can move short distances, so we thought we would use the stairs since we could.”

Customer: “Because the fat blob is blocking the ramp, is that it?!”

Me: “Sir, you obviously have a chip on your shoulder about some things, but please know that I just want to get into the store as quickly as possible. I didn’t say or do anything to you.”

Customer: “Lazy fake-a** liar! Pretending to need a wheelchair when people like me really need it!”

My friend glares at him, but he’s learned that I prefer to fight my own battles, and I have deemed this one not worthy of my time. I clock in and wheel myself over to my checkout and start my workday.

An hour or so later, the same customer comes through my lane. (I work at one of the extra-wide disabled access lanes.) He is still with the older woman, and neither of them seems to recognize me as I start scanning his items.

Customer: “All the other register operators are standing, but you’re sitting down. Are you mocking me?”

Me: “Seriously, sir? Again with this?”

The customer then looks at me properly and notices that I am sitting in my wheelchair and not a regular chair.

Customer: “You again! Are you following me?! Spend all day making fun of the disabled fat guy, is it?”

Me: “Sir, I am literally just trying to scan your items and get you sent on your way.”

Customer: “Where’s your manager? They need to know that they have hateful staff who like to discriminate against disabled people!”

I sigh, call my manager over, and continue to ignore the customer as I finish scanning his items. My manager comes over expecting a simple question about pricing and suddenly is hit with a wave of shouting from my custome.

Customer: “This hateful person has been mocking my disability all morning! He laughed at me when I got stuck coming into the store, and now he’s pretending to need a wheelchair to make me feel like a [slur for disabled people].”

Manager: “Uh… sir, [My Name] here genuinely needs his wheelchair. He is not mocking you or anyone else by using it.”

Customer: “Bulls***! He climbed the stairs like it was nothing!”

Me: “It took me a full minute to make the climb, and I was holding on to the rail the entire time! It was not nothing!

Customer: “You were mock—”

Manager: *Cutting him off* Sir! I am not going to entertain any such accusations against my staff. Now please pay for your items and leave.”

Customer: “But he’s mocking the disabled—”

Finally, the older woman speaks up as she has seemingly had enough.

Older Woman: “Jesus Christ, [Customer]! You’re not disabled; you’re just fat! This poor man doesn’t have a choice but to use his wheelchair, but you do! So shut up, buy your f****** mac and cheese, and let’s get out of here! You’ve embarrassed me enough already!”

The man sheepishly pays for his items and starts to leave, with the woman still muttering:

Older Woman: “I thought I stopped raising a baby thirty years ago!”

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