Right before I left work today a customer came into the store and apparently complained his head off about the fact that there was no salt or ice melt on the ice near the handicapped parking area. I didn’t hear him personally so I don’t know how angry he got. The only reason that we didn’t have anything on the ice was that the employees there didn’t think we had any left. We did have one bag left in the back room which one of my co-workers went to get as I was leaving. I looked over and it was pretty icy in those spots. Considering that handicapped people park there it does make sense that they would have a problem navigating the ice. At least the ones with walkers should have some extra support from falling although I don’t know what effect the ice would have on their mobility.
When the employee that took the complaint told me about it she didn’t seem too sympathetic to the guy. I got caught up in the moment and agreed with her that somebody in this area should know how to walk on ice this time of year. I didn’t say it but I knew that legally speaking the store would be liable if he slipped and fell if we didn’t take care of the ice. I think it’s happened before. I know people have tripped on cracks in the sidewalk before and it became a big to-do with paperwork, corporate sending somebody to fix the sidewalk, and so on. If we did what we could to avoid the mishap, especially where there are security cameras, then we have no problem.
When I started thinking about the matter in that way I did start to wonder about who exactly is responsible at that point. Should the store be held liable if the guy slips on the ice because the store didn’t put salt down or would he be liable because he didn’t know how to walk on the ice properly (barring the fact that he may have had difficulty walking in the first place)? Herein lies the problem. We tend to think of these issues in terms of “either this person or that one is at fault.” The truth is that both the store and the man would be at fault for the reasons given above. So who should be held accountable? Shouldn’t both arguments cancel each other out, causing both sides to part ways, perhaps begrudgingly?
Probably, but how often do people take that stance? I know that if I slip and fall on the ice it is a result of my own clumsiness and I won’t even say anything to the people inside the business. Knowing how to fall without hurting myself too much also helps. Believe me, I’ve had plenty of practice over the years. (That reminds me, I need to shovel off my steps when I get home, before more snow comes tonight.) But not everybody is like me. There are those who will sue or at somehow get whatever they can from the business for “retribution.”
I have to wonder if the money is as important to these people as much as it is closure. It isn’t that the damage caused needs covering. It needs a resolution. Perhaps I’m still project myself onto others, though. That’s the only way that I can practice psychology, after all. Seeing as I don’t have a liscense—or for that matter studied psychology—I probably shouldn’t try. I can’t help but think, though, that there are those who feel that an accident must have an aftermath, and then it all turns into a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Unless I’m actually injured the end is getting up and dusting myself off as if nothing happened.
Ah, but there’s another problem: injury. What would I do then? In that case, if I can make it inside I probably would tell somebody. I know full well that the business would want me to report what happened, if anything for insurance issues. I would feel obligated to tell them only because I would think that I have to. I know, however, that being as self-conscious as I am I would try to dismiss any sort of reports or compensation as much as I could. I just don’t want the fuss. I would also start to feel guilty. Maybe that’s the biggest difference between me and those that would take the money without flinching. They don’t feel guilty about it.
That brings me back to my main point. Should I feel guilty? If this guy fell the store would have insisted on making a deal out of it. I don’t know how willingly they’d give him financial compensation but they would certainly make the fuss over it. Without knowing him, from what I heard his course would be to automatically make a bigger fuss. I’m only basing this on hearsay, however. Fortunately he didn’t get hurt. Well, he didn’t on his way in. I don’t know what happened on his way out. But apparently the anger he felt over the ice didn’t prevent him from coming in and shopping anyway. Now that I think of it, he could have just been one of those people who like to complain. In that case I wrote a whole blog post based off of a weak premise.
But at least I got a blog post out of it.