I’ve always said that the human capacity for cruelty is staggering. Here is a story that shouldn’t have shocked me, but I was surprised by it anyway. It’s a simple thing that illustrates a significant point.
Recently, an elderly, housed friend of mine went into our local big box store that she’d been unable to find elsewhere. (She typically prefers to give her business to local stores.) She was tired and hoped a shopping scooter would be available when she walked in. Of course, there was not.
There usually isn’t a working scooter at the door in most big box stores anywhere in America. Just ask a disabled person. The few that work are usually in use, forcing you to either walk that huge store or wait for a scooter to become available. That could be a long wait. After all, people spend hours browsing in big box stores.
Usually, my friend would wait on a bench in the store’s front section. Imagine her horror when she walked toward the benches to discover they were all gone! In pain and desperate, she saw a chair at a kiosk. However, a very rude employee informed her that she was not allowed to sit there. When she said the benches were gone and she couldn’t wait for a scooter without sitting down, the employee showed no mercy at all. Instead, she informed my friend that the benches were removed to prevent homeless people from using them!
My friend was absolutely disgusted.
First, how cruel to take away seating that disabled and older adults actually need while waiting for a shabby old store scooter. Given the size of these stores, there are nowhere near enough working scooters to accommodate the volume of business. Even if you wait for someone to return one, it might need to charge before use. So, it’s not available even though someone returned it.
Of course, the despicable part of this story is the decision to deny a homeless person a seat in a climate-controlled area, out of the elements, rather than servicing housed customers who need the benches. This illustrates society’s utter hate and disdain for those who’ve been priced out of housing.
The utter lack of compassion is staggering to me.
To inconvenience all customers just so you can stick it to somebody who dared sit on your precious metal bench? A bench that isn’t even comfortable? Wow.
I thought that particular big box store would be a little better. They have a long history of catering to lower-income customers, many of whom are disabled and elderly. I have known many vehicle dwellers who parked in their lots, bought food and necessities from their store, and favored giving them their business over other chains and supermarkets.
Society thinks of homeless people as human trash. But, like it or not, our money (whatever little of it we have) is green. What difference is it to a big, greedy corporation (with a reputation for attracting “unusual” looking customers) if homeless people are sitting on a bench inside the store? You cannot always assume you can tell a homeless person just by looking at them.
This isn’t just about one location or one particular chain store, for that matter. All over America, public spaces are deliberately designed to keep homeless people from “loitering”.
First, a society based on rampant greed results in droves of people being unable to afford housing. As a result, these people have nowhere else to go. Then society makes it impossible for them to just mind their business and be left alone in a public space. They take away public bathrooms and seating. Even steps in front of skyscrapers and buildings are designed to be unfriendly, specifically to homeless people.
I know that some individuals may be mentally ill or perhaps inebriated and act inappropriately. However, the solution is to call for assistance to help the person – i.e., social workers, medical assistance, etc.
I have my scooter, so it’s not an issue for me. However, if I want to use the store scooter (such as not wanting to take my scooter out in heavy rain), I should be able to do so. But clearly, I am better off shopping elsewhere.
This isn’t about scooters.
It’s about the glaring demonstration of NIMBY culture and how it punishes more than just those of us priced out of housing. It points to the horrific amount of hate society has for us. Some of that is fueled by the constant use of the most extreme examples of homeless representatives in television, movies, and news.
Most of us who are priced out of housing want to “fly under the radar,” especially a disabled female living in a vehicle. We don’t want to be singled out, have the police knock on our vehicles, have a store security officer follow us around, or behave in any way that would prompt people to pull out a mobile phone and record our behavior. We don’t want people to see us as anything but a customer. Thus, most of us “act normally” in public.
Sadly, however, if someone is mentally ill, challenged, or under the influence, they might act inappropriately. They then become more visible and help solidify the disdain for homeless people. I urge you not to see the actions of a few as a representation of the whole.
As for the store, they should provide seating, even if its single chairs spaced 6 feet apart. People who need to sit a while should have a place to do so. They should also get broken scooters repaired or replaced and add a few more to the fleet. It’s not as though they can’t afford it. I have seen scooters being abused by employees and teenagers at night who “drag race” and even drive them off higher curbs! It’s no wonder they are so beaten up.