Having a handicapped child changes life completely. Simple tasks such as grocery shopping have become a major ordeal for me. I rarely go to stores alone due to the difficulties pushing a wheelchair and buggy simultaneously and family members work schedules leave little time to assist me with shopping. My three year old daughter is unable to sit independently, walk, or talk. To navigate stores I find it easier to use her lightweight stroller rather than her bulky and heavy wheelchair…
On Friday July 13, 2007 I was in the Hattiesburg, MS Target with my mother and handicapped daughter. We had over a hundred dollars worth of items to buy and several articles of clothes to potentially buy. The dressing room employee checked the number of clothes we had and that’s when the absurdity began. The employee informed me I could not go into the dressing room with my stroller but I could leave my stroller and child with her while I tried on the clothes. I tried to explain that my daughter was handicapped and used the stroller in place of her wheelchair but it made no difference. I was told that the stroller was a fire hazard and could not be in the dressing room under any circumstances. Again she said that she would watch my child. Arguing how absurd this discrimination was made no difference to the Target employee.
My mother asked to speak with the manager only to find the same pretentious fire hazard excuse for not allowing my daughters’ method of transportation into the dressing room. The managers solution was to call a 1 800 number with a complaint. We left the store feeling abused and discriminated against.
It is unfathomable to imagine why Target feels a store clerk is qualified to watch store patrons children much less a handicapped child. As if some high school store clerk cares or is prepared if someone’s child gets knocked over in the stroller, kidnapped, injured, chokes, or has a seizure. As a nurse I can assure you none of Targets’ employees are qualified to care for my handicapped child but as a mother I find that fact irrelevant in this farce. Why would Target assume that I would trust my child with a complete stranger that may be called to the floor or get preoccupied with other customers?
Target has no right to discriminate and further handicap mothers, their children, and the handicapped. In my situation shopping is hard enough without added obstacles created because Target is afraid someone might steal something in a stroller. In my opinion, the fire safety excuse for their blatant discrimination is a means to justify anti theft measures. Either way whether fire or theft is the reason the result is the same – I feel discriminated against.
I feel assured that if a fire swarms Target I would have less difficulty pushing my daughters’ stroller out of the dressing room than an elderly person or handicapped adult in the same dressing room. What’s next? Will the elderly be banned from trying on clothes or from the store completely as a fire hazard? Furthermore, the crowds of buggies piled high with rejected clothes that were backed up around the entrance/exit to the dressing room is a far greater fire hazard than a child’s stroller.