Yesterday, at half past seven at night, I decided that I fancied some ice cream. Unusually, there was none in the freezer, so I decided to go to my local supermarket. When I suggested this to Mrs Bob she also asked me to get her some frozen peas, as we had forgotten to get some in a delivery from a different supermarket earlier.
I headed out to the supermarket in search of some frozen treats, grabbed my favourite beanie and put on a hoodie as it’s starting to get cooler at night. Both things help me with the sensory and anxiety issues I have with supermarkets – sunglasses are another aid, but it was night time and dark.
Upon reaching the store, there were a number of young blokes clustered close to the entrance, who were being very aggressive towards customers entering the store. I put my hood up and head down to avoid eye contact or any unnecessary confrontation with them. This worked, as they made a couple of comments but nothing too bad, and I headed to the frozen food aisle as quickly as I could. I grabbed some ice cream and Mrs Bob’s frozen peas, paid and began to walk out of the store.
That’s then when the problems began. As I went to leave, the security guard went to grab me. As I don’t like being touched, I stepped away and politely asked if I could help him. He began to lecture me on the fact that “You teenage shoplifters always keep your hoods up so I can’t see your faces.” I tried to explain that I’m Autistic and my hood was up due to a combination of anxiety and autism, but he wasn’t having any of it, and continued to insult me. I was really struggling by then, but managed to ask to speak to the manager. The guard wouldn’t cooperate, though and said “why should I bother him?” I insisted that I wanted the manager’s details, but the guard pointed at me, and instructed some poor member of staff to “deal with that”. The member of staff printed a receipt with the details and gave it to me.
I then asked the security guard for his company details, etc, as he had hidden his identity card. I tried again to explain to him that I’m Autistic, and as a disabled person I struggle with certain things. He laughed, and exclaimed that “I’ve heard all these excuses before.” He told me I had to leave the store or he would have me removed. He said that I was banned from the store and I was never to return again, or the police would be called.
I left, unable to say any more because I was feeling so unwell, but this left me very upset, angry – a whole kaleidoscope of emotions. So much so, that I struggled to relax that night and became grumpy with Mrs Bob even though she was trying to help me. I’ve been unable to get a good night’s sleep due to nightmares resulting from this episode, so I get to spend my day off today stressed out and tired.
I guess this store should take a leaf out of one of it’s competitors books. Tesco’s have now introduced a sunflower lanyard system so that staff know the customer has a disability or issues but they won’t know what the disability is. It’s a fantastic idea, and although it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, will really help many people.
When it comes to assisting people like me every little helps I guess.
Stay Safe X