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
I find that it is advisable to send a complaint to the store manager or you will face further hassle from this security guard. Also complain to the Guard Company, though that is unlikely to change attitudes, after all is said and done ‘if you pay peanuts then expect monkeys.’
As to me I wear a badge ‘A is for Autism’ and I carry both a disability card and an autism card, along with Disabled Person’s Travel Cards, mind you I live in the United Kingdom.
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I have started to wear a badge and carry my disability rail card etc again. Mrs Bob is dealing with the complaint on my behalf.
Thank you for your reply
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The SIA (Security Industry Authority) regulate ALL security staff no matter who they work for. SIA training should deal with assisting people with additional needs but I am not sure if it does, if it doesn’t, it should! A guard’s job is to help the public as much as it is to apprehend troublemakers. The SIA website says you need to complain directly to the company that employs the guard. This might be the supermarket, or if they’ve subcontracted their security work, to the company they use. You might be able to find out which company they use, if they subcontract the work, by speaking to the manager or head office. He was breaking the law by concealing his SIA badge as well! Security staff’s SIA badge and number MUST be on display at all times while on duty, not doing so is a breach of SIA regulations and the law. How do I know? I know some SIA door staff and guards (very lovely, helpful people I must say, one stood up for me against about 5 drunks one night bless her lol), and I am also Autistic x