“I knew as soon as I saw his white cane that he was blind,” said Safeway cashier Kristy Smith intuitively. “I just knew.”
Smith, who takes the required Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training annually at work, had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to put what she had been learning to good use. The window was wide open.
“It was a no-brainer,” said the five-time consecutive winner of the prestigious Safeway Employee of the Year award. “I did what any considerate person would do.”
Using what she learned in DEI training Chapter 5, “How to Respect Someone with a Disability,” Smith was going to make sure her communication was open, clear and loud. She would talk to him and not at him. She was going to be inclusive, understand him, not underestimate or victimize him, and accommodate his disability. “I got this!” she thought.
“HELLLOOOO! HOW … ARE … YOU … DOOOOING … TODAY … SIR?” yelled Smith, enunciating each syllable with extra emphasis, adding two-second pauses between each word so he would definitely understand. She was gleaming; she was going to retain her Employee of the Year award, no doubt about it.
Thinking he didn’t hear her, she took the decibel level up several notches, adding three-second pauses. “SIR! YOU ….. FOUND ….. EVERYTHING ….. YOU ….. NEEDED ….. TODAY?”
“I didn’t know she was talking to me,” said Mark Jones, who just wanted to pay and go home to catch the football game. “I didn’t think anything was amiss. I just thought she was talking to a hearing-impaired person ahead of me.”
Finally realizing she was speaking to him, Jones, appreciative of her loud customer service skills, politely told her he found everything he needed, paid and tapped his white cane out the door.
Feeling accomplished, Smith spotted the next person in line she could help at the same volume, speaking rate, and level of respect: an elderly Asian woman. “She definitely doesn’t look like she speaks English,” thought Smith. Another DEI window of opportunity to help someone:
“HELLOOOOO! HOW … ARE … YOU … DOOOOING … TODAY … MA’AM?”