Saturday, September 15, 2007

update on ignorance.

first, big hugs and doggie kisses to arwen over at inches and falling for mentioning our ordeal with ignorance. i'm really glad that at least one person really does want to learn a little more and do something to educate the general public. i dig you miss arwen, yes i do!

if you read my previous post on ignorance, i have a little update for you. if you haven't read the previous post, go ahead, go read it, i ain't goin' no where. *wink*

on thursday, i happened by a different location of Big Retail Store while on a little shopping expedition and the experience was WONDERFUL in that particular location. both customers and employees made comments about what a beautiful dog ainsley is (no they never mention my stunning beauty--it's probably too much for them to handle) and a few asked if they could pet her (sorry, no, not when she is working) and not one single person approached me about ainsley not being allowed or asking me to clarify or justify that she is a service dog. this is the way it should be!

but it ain't always that way is it? yesterday (friday), i drove up north to a particular thrift shop. there are several of these thrift shops in the area and i like to check all of them out because they have different things in different locations and some are better than others in terms of variety of merchandise. i also like to patronize these particular thrift shops because i believe that it is my responsibility as a rehabilitation professional AND as a person with a disability to support organizations that work with and for persons with disabilities. that being said, my little day trip up north turned out to be more of the same. the employee asked me if the dog would bite and when i looked at him without responding he got defensive "i am just asking, if the dog is going to bite anyone you have to leave". i told the guy that he was out of line for asking that and making that statement in that the dog was not in any way showing any aggression (ainsley has no clue what aggression even is--seriously she hasn't got a mean or protective bone in her body). i suggested that he contact corporation management in NYC and ask them to provide him more information on access rights of service dogs and how to handle a situation in which a service dog enters the store. he was basically blowing me off and i told him that while i suspected he wouldn't be making any inquiries to his management, i would be happy to call them and alert them to his behavior. i turned away from him to begin looking in the store and found a little short older lady yelling at me and putting her finger approximately three inches from my face. she provided such observations as "you are idiot. you no bring dog in the store. you leave. you take dog and you leave now. not right you stupid stupid stupid." this little old lady was pissed off and she was HOSTILE. i really thought that this little lady was going to hit me. not that i thought that she would cause significant damage to me, but appalled that she felt her behavior was appropriate and that i deserved that sort of treatment. the lady continued to berate me while employees and customers all over the store turned to watch. as previously at Big Retail Store, none of the employees stepped in to intervene. i tried to tell the lady that the dog was allowed in the store because she is a service dog, but she wouldn't shut up for one friggin' second. she was like your worst nightmare in your face. when she stepped closer to me and put her finger closer to my face, i took out my phone and dialed 911. while i was on the phone with the 911 operator, she took her barage up a notch still and i had to repeatedly state: "take your finger out of my face. you need to get your finger out of my face. you need to leave me alone." finally some woman that this little old lady was with took her by the arm and told her to leave me alone and guided her away. i requested an officer at the location. i waited around, while browsing, for the officers and ended up waiting outside for two officers who did show up. i explained what happened and asked that they speak to the two individuals (the employee and the woman) and let them know that their behavior was inappropriate. they did and i thanked them. after speaking with the officers i called the corporate legal representative for the thrift store company and spoke with him at length about the situation. he assured me that he would speak with the employees about how to handle that kind of situation more appropriately. i was alwo invited to tour their headquarters and see the type of services and training that they provide for people with disabilities. that ended well, but i sure wish that it had not happened at all.
this is very tiring and i wish i didn't have to do it, but i just feel it is my responsibility to make it easier for the next person with a service dog who comes along.

1 comment:

Arwen said...

I don't think you picked a better word that "ignorance" for the title of these posts. That is what those people are, through and through.

Thank you so much for actually calling management and dealing with these situations and for telling us about them. You and Ainsley are making a difference and a good one, at that!