I got kicked out of a Best Buy the other day. I imagine those who’ve been kicked out of other places have had similar experiences.
But this time I had the police called on me.
No, I did not get arrested.
I rarely go to Best Buy. It’s just so much easier, usually, to get stuff on-line. But I needed some ethernet cables and a face plate, so I thought I’d give them a try. (This is despite having been tossed about 5 years ago. But in the intervening years I’d been in there once or twice without a problem—it often just depends on what idiot happens to see you.)
Anyways, I go in. I make it close to the back where the cables are when the security guard (you know, the guy who checks your receipts) catches up with me and tells me that I have to wear shoes.
I tell him, “No, I don’t,” and cite the Americans with Disabilities Act.
You see, I have a letter from my doctor. I’ve never mentioned that before because I really don’t like making a big deal about it. Who would? I don’t like the thought of being “disabled”, and in fact what I really consider the situation to be is that I have difficulties when I wear footwear. In particular, I have a spine that is deteriorating (and has been for at least 30 years) and that these days is getting worse and worse. Unfortunately, it’s a family thing.
In addition, I have shattered cartilage in one knee. (That happened when my shod foot caught on a carpet in a place that would not let me in without shoes. There’s a lesson in that.) And some foot pain.
But it all only really bothers me when I wear shoes. When I am barefoot I can place my feet differently. Shoes are a box that hold the foot in one position, so you really cannot vary exactly how you land. And the feedback and proprioception from a direct surface really does affect the way you walk.
So, when I am forced to wear shoes I can start feeling pain pretty quickly, and the pain lasts even after I take off the footwear.
Anyways, I told the security guard I had a letter from my doctor. He said it didn’t matter and that they had a policy. I explained the ADA a bit more to him (giving the example of a service dog trumping a “no pets” rule), at which point he said, “I’ll have the police escort you out,” and walked away.
To his back, I asked, “So I can stay until the police arrive?” But he never responded. So I decided an “escort” might be fun. After all, after I’d brought up the ADA he actually hadn’t said that I had to leave, just that I’d be escorted. I took that as a license to stay until my escort arrived.
I looked over their cables and face-plates, and was reminded why I never shop at Best Buy. Why had I even bothered?
At that point, I decided to get them to show my their “policy”, so I went back up to the entrance and the guard and asked for a copy of it. I will note that there is no sign on the door.
Another employee said, “Get it for him.” At this point, for anybody concerned about trespassing after having been asked to leave, this was essentially an invitation to stay until they’ve gotten me the policy.
Oh, and while waiting, the guard very “helpfully” informed me that it was illegal to drive barefoot. I tried to get him to look it up, but he let me know he was heading off to police school in a few weeks and he knew what he was talking about. (That really helped me gauge the level of incompetence I was dealing with.)
About that time a supervisor came up and was all concerned that I might step on something. (What???) But I was still waiting for my copy of their policy.
Eventually a policeman showed up. I wasn’t too worried—it turns out I know the Chief of Police. But I still knew that if they officially ordered me out and I didn’t leave, it would be criminal trespassing.
So then we got into a bit of discussion over whether they’d actually told me to leave (or, more accurately, whether the requests to leave had been countermanded by their later statements—again, if they tell me they are getting me a copy of their policy, that’s a license to stay until they give it to me). We also talked about the ADA, and the policeman correctly said that while trespass was a criminal matter, the ADA was merely civil and would have to be dealt with later and separately. That was exactly correct.
Finally, the security guard specifically says, “You have to leave.” Fine. Nice and unambiguous.
So I ask the guard if he is an “agent”. He says no.
At this point I can see the policeman get a slight grin and realize what’s up. You see, in Ohio, for criminal trespass, you have to be notified by the owner or agent of the owner to leave. That makes sense—it only counts if you’ve been ordered to leave by somebody who has the authority to tell you to leave.
Now, I suspect that, for this purpose, the security guard may have been an “agent”. It depends exactly on what management had authorized him to do. But it was interesting that mister-know-it-all also was clueless about criminal trespass law.
The policeman was well-trained though. He knew exactly what the guard’s denial meant. It meant that the guard was denying that he had the authority to make me leave! So the officer said, “Get a manager here.”
So the supervisor came again, officially told me I had to leave, and then I left with the policeman. We talked a bit about why I was barefoot (how it kept me from hurting). The policeman was really nice. And knowledgeable.
After I got home I wrote a nice note to the Chief of Police about him. I imagine most contacts are complaints about officers, so I’m sure he appreciated hearing about an officer who knew how to do his job and was very good at it.
Anyways, this posting is getting rather long, so I’ll continue tomorrow. Because after I got home, I also sent an email to Best Buy’s corporate offices about violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.