Letter to supermarket re: security staff stalking mask-exempt customers

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Written by: Miri
June 21, 2021
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Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you regarding an extremely harrowing experience I had in the [town] branch of [supermarket] on [date], where I was treated by a member of your staff with a degree of misogynist menace that has left me profoundly distressed and in a state of considerable shock, therefore interfering with every aspect of my life.

On [date], I had just received some distressing family news - something many families are having to endure at the current time - and so was already in a state of some emotional fragility, when I realised the household had no drinking water and so I must make an emergency trip to the supermarket. The [town] branch is my usual supermarket, and I have been a loyal patron for many years, so I certainly did not anticipate this trip would be in any way traumatic.

Like many thousands of others, I hold a medical exemption from wearing a mask, and am used to public environments like supermarkets being well-versed on the law surrounding exemptions and therefore treating me with as much courtesy and respect as any other customer.

Sadly, this was not the case in the [town] branch on [date]. 

When I entered the supermarket, the security guard at the door stared at me for an inordinate amount of time, and as I walked past him, I heard him mutter something relating to my maskless appearance. Rather than politely ask me about this - to which I would have replied that I am exempt, which is all the law requires me to do - he began to closely follow behind me, which was obviously extremely unnerving. He continued to follow me through the aisles, so I, by now very anxious and on edge, turned around and mouthed at him to 'get lost'.

He ignored this and continued to tail me around the supermarket, standing at the bottom of every aisle I ventured into with his arms crossed, feet apart, and staring intensely at me - highly aggressive and confrontational body language that made me feel deeply unsettled and afraid, as the store was not busy and so it was effectively just he and I in the aisles. 

After he had repeated this pattern over several aisles, I turned around to face him directly and said loudly, "why are you following me? Treating me like I'm a criminal because I'm not wearing a mask, how dare you!"

He said nothing, and I turned away to get my milk, at which point I was shaking and on the verge of tears.

I then headed straight to the tills, paid for my purchases, and asked to see the duty manager. All the while, the security guard continued circling and staring at me. 

The duty manager appeared, and I explained the situation to him, telling him it was disgusting and despicable to treat a customer this way because they are unable to wear a mask.

The duty manager said, "obviously you're exempt."

I agreed. 

The duty manager continued to say that some exempt people wear a lanyard, whilst others (like me) choose not to, which is perfectly acceptable. He was clearly well-versed on the law, which adds an extra degree of incredulity that another member of staff could have behaved with such flagrant disregard for it.

I was very angry and upset by this point, and the duty manager said, "can you please calm down?"

I said, "no I can't, I am sick of this."

Many women, including myself, have deeply distressing past experience relating to aggressive men following, harassing, and assaulting us. When I was [an adolescent], a man followed me home and tried to molest me, a profoundly traumatic experience that has left me with a particular phobia of being closely followed by threatening men – something that no woman should have to endure, and certainly not in a public and ostensibly “safe space” like a supermarket.

I am a strong person who has overcome many challenges in life, but this incident has left me deeply shaken and with enduring feelings of distress and fear, interfering with my normal life and everyday tasks. As you might imagine, the thought of entering a supermarket now fills me with dread, at the thought I might be "targeted" in such a way again.

I seek your prompt and urgent response detailing how the member of staff in question will be disciplined and re-educated, and what steps you will take to compensate me for this appalling experience.

Please note that I am taking ongoing legal advice on this situation.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]

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