Grumpy pet owner bullies shoppers

2011-10-20 00:00

I WAS at my local supermarket in Greytown to purchase some necessary goods recently. My shopping experiences have always been pleasant at this store, so much so that I feel very much at home there.

On this day, while I was paying for my goods at the till, I noticed a woman walk into the store with her pet dog (Jack Russell) in her arms which she placed into a shopping trolley and proceeded into the store. As she passed the security guard, he rightfully informed her verbally and by pointing to the clearly legible sign that “no pets are allowed in the supermarket”.

The security guard and his information were disdainfully dismissed in a manner which employees of colour (in fact most people of colour) were (and sometimes, clearly still are) prior to the advent of democracy in 1994.

I was incensed for no other reason than the hygiene and health implications of having pets in a supermarket. The hushed protests from other shoppers around me served as clear justification for my outrage.

To my relief one of the proprietors approached Jack Russell Woman presumably to reinforce the store policy. After a brief exchange of words, the proprietor walked away while Jack Russell Woman and her pet continued with their shopping, much to the shock and dismay of myself and other shoppers around me.

I approached the proprietor, who informed me that the woman refused to take cognisance of the store policy and was willing to pay the R500 fine with which he had threatened her. Noting my dissatisfaction with this situation he invited me to join him in voicing my protestations. Buoyed by the hushed protests around me and the fact that I had the proprietor on my side, I was sure we would succeed in convincing Jack Russell Woman that one could not just willy-nilly allow pets in a supermarket.

My attempted precis of an oration on the far-reaching ramifications of allowing pets in supermarkets was met with insolent belligerence, and the proprietor and I were summarily dismissed in the same manner as the guard had been. Sensing that the situation had a very real potential to turn nasty, I chose to retreat (tail between my legs), as I realised that I did not have full authority to tackle this battle. That authority was the responsibility and prerogative of the proprietor.

As a result of this incident, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. Ultimately, I’m stuck at disappointment. The proprietors failed in their responsibility to all patrons of their establishment to uphold hygiene and health standards as well as fairness. It is precisely because of the lack of appropriate action by the proprietors that Jack Russell Woman has and will continue to have a contemptuous, arrogant and belligerent attitude.

Consequently, I have been unable to bring myself to shop at the supermarket since. Sadly, due to lack of choice in our small town, that situation is unlikely to be permanent. I miss the wide variety the store has to offer. The proprietor’s response of “that’s your choice”, to my statement that “I could not shop at a supermarket that allowed pets in the store”, tells me that they never really valued my patronage as much as that of Jack Russell Woman.

Why is it that so many previously disadvantaged businesspeople who established themselves and succeeded despite the previously advantaged, still value the patronage of the previously advantaged above that of the currently advantaged?

So much so, that they are willing to humble themselves to a point of submissive subordination.

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