Dear Mr Woolies...from Nancy
Sunday 14 April 2013
Dear Mr Woolies,
Yes - I know that’s not your real name but mine isn’t Lissen either – and that’s what your Manager kept calling me when he bawled me out recently.
“Lissen” he hissed…and he hissed it quite a few times which is pretty funny when you think about it – him trying to determine if I really WERE a deaf (and dear) little old lady – and all.
But I digress…
A few days ago one of your stores disgraced itself (for the first time? I have to ask.) It refused entry to a woman who obviously needed (and had) a properly-vested Assistance Dog with her. That’s illegal.
To salve your conscience and make her humiliation go away (Haha!) you threw to a Charity, a few of the dollars you make… (Aussie family businesses spring to mind.) And then it’s HiHo! and off we go to play on our very own Pokies and do WooliesWheelies on our considerable pieces of land and even better - see how much more cheap milk we can squeeze out of the teats of the few cows that remain in this country. Have I got it right?
But I digress…again!
The thing is, Mr Woolies…I got so angry I threw a tweet out on Friday night to the Twitter Cyber Space – you know, that 5th Estate called Social Media?
I may just as well have thrown my nifty little iPhone right into one of your BBQ'd chickens. Talk about MeltDown. Boy! If I hadn’t felt loved before, I certainly do now. Because, Mr Woolies…the 5th Estate is all about reaching out to people – REAL people…you know the ones? The ones that CARE about other people; the ones that by and large are not purple in the face from gobbling and stashing too many dollars under their tongues. (Heavens are you friends with Rupe and…gulp…Gina?)
Anyways! My tweet simply pointed out that you had kicked me and my dog out of a store also.
Thousands of people have read that Tweet now, Mr Woolies and I haven’t yet identified one that isn’t angry, shocked and ashamed of you. One, Andrew Elder, a wondrously intelligent blogger I’m cheeky enough to call a friend, suggested I write to you and invoke my little Granddaughters’ wrath upon your head. But somehow I think, on this one, I have to stand up for myself and all of the dear souls who cope with disability each and every day of their lives.
Here are the facts:
1. Deaf since birth, aged 73 and living alone, I rely heavily on my Assistance Dog, Gilly who is worth MILLIONS (to me)
2. I trained Gilly myself because I really do understand - after 73 years of owning and training dogs and being deaf - what it is I need
3. We’ve just moved to a new location by the sea
4. One of your stores is walking distance from us
5. Recently I went to this store
6. I’ve always known that it’s required by law for Assistance Dogs to be identified by a vest that says ‘Trained by….’ or some such so I’ve NEVER tried to take Gilly inside a store. He doesn’t have such a vest
7. However as this was my first trip to your store and I’m acutely conscious that Gilly is an extremely attractive little dog and has already survived one kidnap event, I tied him up as close to the entrance as possible
8. Then I approached one of your staff whose job it is to stand at the entrance to direct people
9. I asked her if she would mind just keeping an eye on Gilly now and then as I’m extremely dependent upon him and it’s pretty easy to slip a dog lead – if you’re of a mind to do that
10. Well…talk about Mother Teresa…without hesitation she said, “Look if he’s an Assistance Dog, take him inside”
11. I said “Are you sure? I trained him myself and he doesn’t have a vest”
12. “No, that’s fine” she said. “Take him in”
13. So I did
14. We had a great time
15. Gilly didn’t pee on anything or molest the meat in the deli and certainly didn’t bite anyone on the bum
16. Mind you…he did lead me to the Dog Biscuits…just like a kid knows where the Lollies are
17. Anyway…I’d filled up my basket (No cheap milk though)… when this man came rushing up…right into my face (Latham’s handshake comes to mind)
18. “Lissen” he said. “I don’t know that you’re deaf. You can’t have that dog in here. You’ll have to get out”
19. “But…but” I protested. “Your staff INVITED us in”
20. “Then they were WRONG” he hissed. “You’re talking normally…how am I supposed to know if you’re deaf or not?”
21. Now by this time, a crowd had gathered
22. I can lip-read
23. “Oerr” they said. Has she been caught shop-lifting?”
24. “Lissen” said the man who I now realized was the Manager. “Go and get a vest from the Lions” and he took out his phone as if to ring them on the spot.
25. “Oerr” said the crowd. “He’s ringing the cops.”
26. I’d had enough so I told the Manager I was leaving
27. “Lissen” he said. “You can take take your goods…just pay for them on the way out
28. He did NOT like the fact that I tipped everything out on to the counter and left, humiliated but with dignity intact
30. I must point out that the female staff were also much distressed
29. I shall never return
The thing is, Mr Woolies, that you have every right to take the letter of the law into your own hands …but you have NO right to try to take a person’s dignity away.
I DID ring the Lions and they said they couldn’t provide me with a vest for Gilly because they didn’t train him. I understand. It’d be just terrible for the Lions if my Spoodle (Poodle/Cocker Spaniel X) Gilly started acting like a trained-to-kill mastiff of some kind.
And yes, I know that I could get some legal dog-trainer-company-whatever to assess him and provide a vest. But hey! I’m old and Gilly’s 6 and in his middle years. How do I get them to understand that THESE are the things my dog does for me?
· When my alarm goes off he puts his paw on my face…until I tell him to sod off (nicely)
· When the milkman comes from AussieFarmersDirect around midnight, he runs back and forth to let me know that the lovely man with the light on his head has put my goods on my doorstep
· He tells me if someone I haven’t noticed, is trying to speak to me
· If a cyclist rushes up behind me, he pulls me off the path
· He tells me when an email has arrived and when the postman comes
· He identifies the ambulance and the firetrucks and sings along with them too
· In fact he knows each and every sound I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
· But he also reminds me that I must appreciate I have my sight and there are beautiful things to see, like bark on the trees and the sand blowing in the wind and the moon and rock pools teeming with innocent life
· He helps me forget that you reminded me that when I was a child I was bullied by boys with sticks as the ‘little kid who cannot hear’
· He licks my hand when I get a bit sad…over…people like you. The ones that foster this bullying and greed in an ever-growing, uncaring climate-change of cruelty and inhumanity to fellow man.
No, Mr Woolies, I won’t be coming back to give you a second chance. My forebears started a grocery chain called Moran & Cato many years ago. It was built on sound business principles of quality and turnover and nothing over 2/6d. But most importantly of all, it was built on Customer Service and compassion for those in need.
The irony is, Mr Woolies that the true wealth in this country is in its people - like those who flew to my defence.
You would be well served to start looking after them… as well as you look after yourself.