Where is the line between expecting courtesy and being ableist and how do you hold it?
TikTok is trying to figure that out after a series of videos showed a convenience store employee refusing to assist customers who don't say hi back to her. They were shot by Call Me Winter—@winterwitch22msze1—who has witnessed the employee do it over and over, then finally decided to do something about it.
The user isn't saying employees don't deserve to be treated with courtesy. The person shooting the clips felt the employee was being incredibly ableist and a lot of people agreed.
Here's the first clip:
This is no way to treat customers! @Stewart’s Shops store 267#fyp#winter witch 💜
In it, we saw the person as they stepped to the counter.
The employee at the register said "Hi, how are you?" to which the person filming responded "3.80 on pump 2."
So far, a normal interaction at a fuel station with a customer who would rather just get to business.
The employee repeated herself, a bit more aggressively this time:
"I said Hi, how are you?"
The person doesn't immediately respond so the employee refused to serve the customer.
“OK, I won’t be serving you today."
"Next customer, please?”
The text on screen gave the audience some relevant background information:
"This girl refuses to wait on people if they don't say hello, there are many reasons why some may not be able to, this isn't okay and could cause a bigger issue for someone just trying to pay for something."
After this first clip, some people cheered for the cashier for demanding a greeting.
While others took issue with her approach.
A second clip showed the employee on a different day again refusing to help the same customer.
The customer was smoothly checked out by another cashier—who they were also silent with—while the first employee asked:
"Did he learn to say hi yet?"
The on-screen text read:
"This was the other day, yet again the girl with the dark hair refuses to help if you listen at the end she says did he learn to say hi yet?"
This clip was posted with a caption that read:
"For those who have disabilities or anxiety this is not ok I have seen this happen 4 times now."
After seeing this was a repeated behavior targeting specific customers—and included her commentary about them—people's opinions shifted.
But it was a third video that gave a fuller background to the ongoing issue and solidified things for people.
She was so determined to tell his story she filmed the third video shortly after a dental procedure.
Reply to @jennyvanessaaa Part 2 will be posted on my page #fyp#winter witch 💜
In this video we finally met the owner of the account.
She explained the man in the video struggles to communicate verbally.
Difficulty with verbal communication can have a number of causes such as stroke, stutter, autism, anxiety, ADHD, injury or infection, etc... One communication disorder, aphasia 6has come up in the media recently after Bruce Willis went public with his diagnosis.
A common feature among speaking difficulties is they get worse if the person feels pressured, cornered or stressed.
The customer in these videos worked hard to overcome his speech difficulties by practicing what he needed to say. This store has been part of his routine and he has been a customer there, without problem, for a while.
His first negative interaction with this employee—she loudly went "hellooooo!?" in the man's face when he didn't respond—ended with him freezing and leaving without getting what he needed.
When he got home he was able to communicate the incident to Winter, who seemed to act as a sort of aide for him. She called the company.
The employee was told this particular customer is mostly nonverbal, he struggles with communication and—most importantly—not to demand greetings from customers.
A customer's medical history is none of the employee's business. But the fact she did have that knowledge and was aware of the customer's struggles made her "Did he learn to say hi yet?" comment particularly egregious to viewers.
According to Winter, this is now being done out of spite.
TikTok had a lot to say on the reasons someone might not say "hi" to a stranger and what the fallout from this employee's behavior would look like in their world.
In the end, people seemed to agree people should be treated with courtesy and humanity.
Sometimes that means saying "hi" to employees and sometimes that means cashing customers out even if they don't say "hi" back to you.
Stewarts—the store where the incidents kept happening—has reached out to Winter to resolve the issue.