For most of us who shop at Walmart, the elderly greeters are merely something to smile at and say “hi” to as we enter the store — and to occasionally hand over your receipt for checking-over as you exit. But as any regular readers of Consumerist know, some folks out there seem to have a grudge against greeters and have opted for fisticuffs over anger management.
Given that the woman accused of a holiday-time attack against a greeter in upstate New York is now coming to trial, we thought we’d take a look back at the recent history of violence against the septua- and octogenarian greeters of Walmart.
Back in 2008, a Washington state CPA was found guilty of misdemeanor assault after knocking a 75-year-old greeter to the floor after the elder man allegedly touched him while attempting to check his receipt. The shopper had tried to claim his actions were taken in self-defense, but that’s not going to win you much sympathy when the other person can remember World War II.
The violence continued in 2009, when a police officer in Tennessee was suspended for shoving a receipt-checker to the ground. Not to mention, when another customer attempted to intervene on the 71-year-old greeter’s behalf, the cop allegedly shoved that person through a glass window.
Amazingly, a judge threw out the criminal complaint against the police officer, but the greeter did eventually win a $20,000 civil settlement.
Later that year, a 72-year-old greeter in Pennsylvania was the recipient of a punch to the face that left him hospitalized with half of the bones in his face broken, simply for asking to check a customer’s receipt.
In 2010, a greeter in Florida says he was fired from his job at Walmart because he defended himself after a customer attacked him.
“They told me I did a good job of defending myself,” the 69-year-old said at the time. “Then they turned around and fired me. I guess they just wanted me to stand there and get beaten.”
In the end, the customer, who had claimed that the greeter used a racial slur, entered a plea of no contest to battery charges and received one year of probation.
Also in 2010, a 100-year-old greeter in Wisconsin was sent to the hospital following a dispute with a customer. While reports claimed the customer shoved the elderly woman to the ground, prosecutors did not file charges because it was possible the fall was accidental.
Then last year, a mother-daughter team in Ohio allegedly attacked a 71-year-old greeter by pushing their cart into him and choking him… then threatening to blow up the store when other employees attempted to intervene.
Perhaps fed up with all this greeter abuse, a greeter in Kentucky decided to be proactive, chasing down a 22-year-old shopper he believed to have stolen a bike from the store. For his efforts, he earned a trip to the hospital, but at least he wasn’t fired.
So when your mom/dad/grandma/grandpa/whatever tell you the good news that they got a nice little gig as a Walmart greeter, maybe you should suggest they invest an self-defense for the elderly course.