It’s not always easy to ask for help, especially when the person you need to help you doesn’t really want to provide assistance. This past weekend I decided to visit Perimeter Mall; in order to get to the mall I had to cut through Macy’s. I thought this would be pretty simple. Go up the escalator, around the corner and I’m in! This would have been the case if I hadn’t gotten hopelessly lost in the men’s section. I was looking everywhere for a sign, a door, something that would free me. I was going to have to ask for direction from an employee, even though I didn’t want to. One thing to keep in mind is that I use a white cane to navigate, I’m considered “low vision.” I see an employee, smile and start walking toward him, he sees me and side steps into the pants section. I turn to him and just as I’m about to voice my request he steps into another aisle (while still facing me) and takes a few more steps away.
This is when my evil half took over. “I can see you. Please stop making me chase you. I just have a quick question.” after a fumbled explanation and awkward moment the man gave me a bunch of visual markers that were too far away for me to see, but did eventually help me get out.
One could interpret the interaction as the employee just trying not to be in my way, but it didn’t feel like that to me. This was a man who did not want to help me because it might entail too much effort. Had I had zero light perception I may not have been immediately aware he was there, and I’m sure that was his intention for side stepping me, yet keeping an eye on me the whole time. Hopefully he will think twice before not offering assistance to a customer (with or without a disability) I’ve worked retail and I know all about the “ten foot attitude” (you’re supposed to greet anyone that gets within a ten foot radius of you).