People with disabilities constantly find themselves in situations where they have to stand up for themselves and fight for their basic rights. This story of malicious compliance highlights how easily it can happen.
A Visit to a Theme Park
Betty is a full-time wheelchair user who cannot walk or stand. She had visited a theme park with her friend a few years ago. One of the rides was in a building and had an area outside the entrance for pushchairs and strollers that people bring to theme parks that pull all their stuff and older kids who are not allowed inside the building.
Betty and her friend headed towards the entrance, and a young employee approached her and said, “You just leave your wheelchair there.”
Betty looked at the employee, and her friend was about to say something, but Betty caught her eye and winked. Betty wheeled to the area and sat there with her brakes on, and her friend stood beside her.
She Complied With His Request
The worker came over and said, “You can go in now,” seeing Betty not moving. She replied, “How you told me to put my wheelchair here?” The worker (not seeing what was happening) replied, “Yes, so you need to leave it here and then go in and get it after.”
Betty asked him how that would work, and he sort of blinked at her, confused, then walked over to a guest who had asked for help.
Another worker, an older man who had a “team leader” or “supervisor” type of phrasing on his badge, came over. The guy who had told Betty to sit there was still talking to another guest, and the older worker asked Betty if she was okay.
She Didn’t Think He Understood
Betty explained that the guy had told her to sit here in her chair, and so she did, and then he told her to head into the ride but left her chair there, and she was confused because she couldn’t walk or stand.
The worker was mortified and told her that this was obviously not the park rules. They explained that staff should never ask customers to leave their wheelchairs there if they don’t want to and that she’s allowed in with her chair.
The first worker came over, and the supervisor/team leader asked him what he was on about, how he couldn’t tell wheelchair users to do this, etc.
The younger employee said someone had told him to tell people they could leave their wheelchairs there. They quickly worked out that he had gotten his wires crossed and that some people will ask if they can leave their wheelchairs there who are ambulatory and use them when they get tired, and that’s fine, but not to tell everyone in a wheelchair to leave their chairs there!
The employee immediately realized his mistake and then further realized what Betty had said previously when he wasn’t looking, meaning she couldn’t stand or walk, and what he had implied. He was incredibly embarrassed, apologizing over and over!
Betty explained that it was okay, and she was glad he had realized what he said wasn’t okay, but she could see how he had gotten confused, and it turned out he was very new. Betty headed onto the ride, and as she exited, the supervisor came over and refunded their park entry tickets and had food and shop vouchers for herself and her friend.
They Apologised for the Inconvenience
Betty explained how they didn’t need to do this and how she was just glad the new guy found out about his misunderstanding with her, who found it funny and had a bit of fun over someone else (it could have been her on a different day) who took offense and got angry, etc., which is why she got the free stuff.
This experience is an excellent example of how we can use malicious compliance in a positive way. Instead of being upset or angry, Betty found the situation humorous and had a bit of fun with it.
She Took the High Road and Created a Teachable Moment
The new employee’s mistake was innocent, and he learned a valuable lesson that day. The park’s management rectified the situation, and Betty and her friend got compensated for their inconvenience, showing that the park cares about its customers.
Redditors really enjoyed this woman’s tale. One user said, “Man, how flustered/mentally exhausted do you have to be to just straight up FORGET that a good portion of wheelchair users can’t walk at all/can only walk VERY short distances with assistance?? Poor guy! Definitely a good thing you were the one to correct him instead of someone less patient!”
What do you think? She handled this situation perfectly, showing that a bit of humor can go a long way.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Cast Of Thousands. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.