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What In The Audacious, Entitled, Rude-A** Heck Is This Bulls***?!

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: Damionstjames | December 7, 2021

I’m in a wheelchair, and people around where I live don’t pay attention, so I’m pretty much forced to wear this high-visibility yellow-green safety vest.

I run into my most constant issue at a local supermarket. Their trolley-boys (cart wranglers) all wear near-identical safety vests to mine, only theirs actually have black trim added to the vest along with the chain’s name plastered on the left breast and the back. That, and the employees actually have nametags on.

I look like a biker by comparison with my beard, heavy tattoos, and all-black clothes, and I top it off with a Pride 49ers hat. I mean, the hat alone should be a clear sign I don’t work there, but nope! I should also point out that I’m a voice actor. When I’m out in public, I speak with a posh, North-London English accent as I’ve found, due to implicit bias, people tend to treat me better.

One Friday, I headed out to perform what I call the “Double Whammy”: picking up my prescriptions from the pharmacy inside [Supermarket] and doing a bit of food shopping. I waved to or greeted my regular employees and managers, as I’m in there so much and so often that I’m a pretty recognizable face.

I wheeled my chair into the soup aisle. There were so many delicious options that I couldn’t decide on what to get. I don’t think I was in the aisle for more than five minutes when I heard that throat-clearing “eh-hem!” emanate from behind me. I ignored it, because I had no idea it was meant for me. It happened again, and I continued to ignore it.

That’s when this lady grabbed the handles on my wheelchair and spun me around. It took every ounce of effort not to turn and swing on her because I had no idea who she was or her intentions, but obviously, she had no qualms over grabbing someone’s wheelchair and maneuvering them against their will.

Before I could say a single word, the woman began to shout.

Woman: “Hey! When a customer is trying to get your attention, you don’t ignore them! I have been trying to get your attention for minutes now—” *she hadn’t* “—and I don’t like your attitude.”

I took a deep breath and did my best to unclench my hands from the armrests of my wheelchair.

Me: “Madam, I am sorry if I’ve offended you—” *I wasn’t* “—but I must inform you that—”

I was cut off! Due to my mental quirks and conditioning as a child, any time I’m interrupted, I get shut completely down and I can’t speak until the other person stops talking, so I went silent.

Woman: “I don’t want to hear any of your excuses! Just because you’re in a f****** wheelchair, it doesn’t mean you can get away with being an inconsiderate a**hole. The world doesn’t revolve around you, and there are other people in the world far more in need than you. I have half a mind to wheel you over to the Service Desk and report you to management.”

I waited for a couple of beats to see if her rant was going to continue, but it didn’t. She gave me a look that I could without any measure of difficulty correctly identify as a “your move” glare.

I took another deep breath.

Me: “Ma’am, firstly, it’s illegal, sociably irresponsible, and outright tactless to man-handle a person’s disability conveyance without their consent. That counts as assault. While yelling and screaming at me isn’t illegal, per se, I don’t appreciate it. Tell me, ma’am, what incentive do I have to assist you at this point? I don’t work here. Look me over! I don’t have a nametag on, and I’m in black jeans and a T-shirt with a gay pride 49ers hat on that clearly isn’t uniform. I’m just wearing a safety vest for my safety!”

The lady looked like she was about to blow her skullcap with the force of Mount Saint Helens, Krakatoa, and Tambora combined.

Woman: “How dare you?! Disabled people always think they can get away with anything just because they’re crippled.”

She continued to rant, and that was when she lived up to her threat. She stepped around me, grabbed the handles, and began to push me! I was so bewildered that I froze because I never in a thousand years would’ve thought she would actually do this. I could’ve pulled the brake handles on my chair, but I would’ve had to take my hands off the merchandise basket in my lap which would cause it to slip out once we stopped abruptly. Top that off with the fact that the woman would’ve smacked into my back and the back of my head, and I didn’t want that.

Two of the regular checkout attendants at the self-checkout area noticed me being pushed against my will toward customer service. I could just catch [Employee] immediately get on his radio.

Before I could do anything more, we were at the desk. The lady immediately started slapping her hand on the counter in that typical “Hey, barkeep!” manner. A manager, a woman in her late twenties or thirties, turned to the woman. [Manager] is quite tall and loaded down with Marvel Comics tattoos, and we’re very familiar with one another.

The lady launched into a full-blown tirade, accusing me of this, that, and everything from incompetence to an all-out disregard for customer service.

[Manager] just blinked.

Manager: “Um, he doesn’t work here.”

Woman: “What do you mean, he doesn’t work here?! He’s wearing a safety vest, and your employees wear the same ones!”

Manager: “Well, ours say [Supermarket] on them. We also issue nametags for all employees for transparency, so if you have an issue, you know who they are. [My Name] is a customer; he’s in here at least four times a week.”

I could hear the hamster wheels turning in the woman’s head.

Woman: “So… he doesn’t work here? Let me speak to the store manager just in case.”

[Manager] sighed, picked up her phone, and began to call the store manager. However, that call didn’t finish, as the head of [Supermarket] security came striding over, looking quite pissed. [Head Of Security] is a mountain of a man: 6’5″, 250 pounds, and built like a lumberjack.

Head Of Security: “Ma’am, what are you doing to [My Name]?! You really just grabbed a disabled person’s wheelchair and moved them without their consent.”

Woman: “Well, I—”

Head Of Security: “That wasn’t a question. You don’t do that. Not at my store.”

Woman: “But I—”

Head Of Security: “Can it. You need to come with me right now.”

If looks could kill, I’d be dead twice over between the woman’s “you little b*****d” glare and [Head Of Security]’s “ya done f***ed up” look meant for the woman.

The woman was escorted off to the security area in the back, sputtering like an old Edsel.

Manager: “Are you all right, [My Name]?”

Me: “I’m really not. Things have been difficult for me this last week, and this really spiked my anxiety. I’m just going to go home.”

[Manager] did her best to comfort me. She stepped out of the booth and patted me on the shoulder. [Employee] also asked if I was okay. I said I wasn’t really. He offered, if I was comfortable, to push me back out to my car. I accepted.

[Manager] gave me a card and told me that, when I was ready, I could use that number to have my groceries delivered, and for my trouble, she’d waive the fee for delivery. I thanked her and said that’d be best for now. [Employee] wheeled me out to my car and helped me get my wheelchair in my trunk, and I drove home.

I shared my story with my husband and my immediate friends and family, and at their suggestion, I set up an appointment to speak with [Manager], [Head Of Security], and my local sheriff to go about filing official charges.

My lawyer and I met with them, and as of this moment, the matter is now out of my hands. [Manager], [Head Of Security], and some of the clerks that witnessed the incidents all handed in statements to the sheriff on my behalf. The sheriff’s department is moving ahead with an arrest, and my lawyer is working on a prosecution.

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