Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Why I Will NEVER Visit Another Family Dollar Store
WDSU published an article this morning describing Jessica Margiotta's account of events that took place in the Family Dollar Store in Lafitte, La over the weekend. Jessica claims to have gone to the the Family Dollar Store located at Barataria Boulevard and Lafitte Larose Highway. She entered the store carrying her 5 month old daughter and pushing her disabled 3 year old son in his stroller. She claims that shortly after entering the store an employee approached her and informed her that there is a policy stating that no strollers are allowed in the store. She tried to explain to the employee that her son is disabled and can not walk on his own but the employee stuck with the "no stroller policy". Just when you think it can't get any worse it does just that. The store manager, who you would think intervened to correct what was happening, told Jessica she had the option of leaving the stroller in front of the store and carrying her son on her other arm or to put him in the car and do her shopping without him. Yes, you read that right..according to the mother the manager's solution was to leave a disabled young child in a vehicle unattended.
Representatives for Family Dollar are still investigating this claim but have stated that a policy prohibiting strollers does NOT exist. There are rumors that this may be a policy created by that particular manager in an effort to combat frequent shoplifting.
The actual events of that day have not been confirmed. Let's run with the mother's side of the story. I can't imagine a mother of 2 young children, especially the mother of a young disabled child, making up a story like this.
I can sympathize with this mother. Ainsley couldn't walk when she turned 1. She has Sotos Syndrome which means she was very large. At one she weighed over 30 pounds. 30 pounds doesn't seem like much but it is very difficult to carry 30 pounds around a store. When Ainsley wasn't walking her stroller went everywhere..and I mean EVERYWHERE. Doctor's office, grocery store, everywhere we went her stroller went. Why? Because carrying 30 pounds of dead weight is not easy. I'm sure this 3 year old weighs even more than that and the manager's solution was to carry him in one arm and an infant in the other?? Exactly how safe is that? I know for a fact I could not physically carry a 3 year old and a 5 month old safely. I sure couldn't carry both of them and the items that I went into the store to purchase.
What happened here? In my opinion this store manager likely banned strollers in an attempt to prevent shoplifting. The employee that approached the woman was simply following the rules of her manager. The manager became involved and instead of being reasonable and understanding to this woman, decided to play the "my store my rules" game. Hopefully this turns around to bite him in the ass. Do I think he deserves to lose his job? Yes. I also think he should spend a little time around disabled children. I am confident that if he had spent any amount of time around a child with special needs that he would not have reacted to this situation in the way that he did.
I'm not the first person to jump up and say I will boycott a business over something that their employee did. The company can't control the decisions of each employee but they can take this opportunity to rectify the situation. If I were this mother I would be waiting for a public apology from the manager and company. I would also like to see Family Dollar Store require all members of management to have sensitivity training or to volunteer with an organization that works with the disabled. All employees should also be instructed on how to handle situations involving disabled children and be encouraged to share suggestions on how to make their locations more handicap friendly. I don't think it would be too much to ask that the employees assist people with limitations with their shopping. I'm sure that this mom had to struggle to carry a child, push a stroller and pick up a case of diapers. Maybe, instead of being a royal jackass this manager could have offered to carry the diapers to the register and out to her vehicle. Now wouldn't we all have enjoyed reading that story much more?
This mother should not have experienced this. No one should be so cold to the struggles of others. This mother should not have to wonder if her child will be welcomed inside of a business because of a condition that they have no control over. Family Dollar, as a company, may not be responsible for the actions of this one person BUT their employees are the face of the company and right now, it's a very ugly face. Any future business by my family at a Family Dollar Store depends on the way this situation is handled. I will not take my special needs child into a business that stands by and allows their employees to treat a child in this way. If the company does the right thing and handles this issue, instead of trying to sweep it under the rug, then I won't hold the actions of one ignorant, heartless employee against the company as a whole.
No special needs parent wants pity or special treatment. We simply want compassion and understanding and for everyone to realize in some situations we have to do things a little bit differently than everyone else. It's time to stop being so hateful and show some kindness and help. This mother handled this situation much better than I would have. I am certain that I would not have walked out of that store without and office escorting me. This manager would have heard, very loudly, how stupid and ridiculous his rules and suggestions were.