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Grocery shopping isn’t what many people would call a fun experience, but it is something that we all have to do. We put up with long lines, squeaky carts that don’t steer properly, and crowded aisles because we have to.
There is never a shortage of things to be irritated with at the grocery store, but if you saw a woman struggling to pack her own groceries wouldn’t you help her?
Linda Rolston routinely shopped at a No Frills grocery store in Alberta, Canada. No Frills offers lower prices, but less amenities for shoppers. Namely, consumers are expected to pack their own groceries rather than having a cashier do it.
Rolston had her voice box removed after being diagnosed with cancer, the surgery left her with limited mobility in her shoulders and arms. Week after week, Rolston would pay for her groceries and struggle to pack them away her self. She says she was forced to “beg and plead” for staff to help her, but they often refused. Eventually she approached the owner, who promised to help.
Earlier this year however, while trying to pack her groceries as quickly as possible, that same owner approached. He told her if she can’t shop with someone who can pack her groceries for her, she can’t shop at that store at all.
“I was stunned,” Rolston told CBC News.
“I said, ‘Are you telling me because I’m disabled I can’t shop here?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘I don’t have anyone to help me and I have my prescriptions here.’ He said, ‘Well, you’re just going to have to go somewhere else.'”
Rolston complained to Loblaw head office, the company that owns No Frills. Their customer service apologized and told her that she could shop at the store, as long as she phoned ahead to see if someone could help her.
“I’m an adult. I’m not going to phone to get permission to go shopping,” she said.
They also offered her a $100 gift card – on the condition she gives up any rights to sue and keeps quiet about what happened.
“They can keep the $100,” said Rolston. She is filing a human rights complaint against the company and has been interviewed by news outlets, sharing her story.
Sadly, people with disabilities make up most human rights complaints in Canada. Many provinces don’t have effective accessibility laws to ensure they receive the same service as others.