I worked as a cashier for Wal-mart for just under 3 months when I was called into the back office. A front end manager told me I was to be corrected on my behavior because I left the gated area of the cash register that sold cigarettes in order to tidy the check out lanes that no one else bothers to tidy.
It was a few minutes before closing and there were no customers in the store. I was never told I wasn’t allowed to leave that area.
The manager began screaming at me with the same harsh tone a mother would use with a child who had severely misbehaved. I attempted to speak up but I could not.
Every time I opened my mouth to speak, she would raise her voice and cut me off. I had sat there for about 10 minutes being screamed at and had not been allowed to speak once. The office was the size of a medium sized bathroom and there were 2 other managers in there with us overseeing. I began to get extremely frustrated and upset and began to cry a bit.
At that time I stood up and informed that manager that I had PTSD and have panic attacks when I felt threatened or when I was under extreme stress and that I would like to step out and have a breather, then resume this “meeting”.
She looked at me in shock and said “No you may not leave. You have to stay here until I’m done.”
I said “Just a minute please I won’t leave the store or anything, you can watch me and I’ll come right back”
She said “No you cant” And as I turned towards the door I noticed the large male manager standing in front of it. I immediately went into a panic attack.
After a couple minutes of hyperventilating I began to black out and fell to the floor. The managers stood over top of me discussing what I was doing, whether I was acting or faking it and if any of them was aware that I had a condition.
Twice they asked if I wanted an ambulance, both times I said yes, and then a third time I asked for an ambulance myself. Finally I was reduced to saying “help me I cant breathe” over and over again.
Finally after a few more minutes (About 10 minutes total since the panic attack started) they opened the door and I made a hazy dash for it. I ran out of the store and down the sidewalk, dizzy, lightheaded and blinded since I had lost my glasses in the commotion. I ran for my life.
The store manager chased me down the street for over a mile. I was begging and pleading with her to leave me be, telling her she could clock me out, I was over 18 years old, and past my time to leave at the end of shift. She wouldn’t quit following me.
I had to run through a swamp which she refused to cross in order to escape and I called my friend and spent the night with him. I was afraid to even tell my mother where I was (they called her) because I was so afraid she would tell someone from walmart and they would come looking for me.
During my panic attacks I become afraid for my life and feel like it is being threatened even if it is irrational, while I was running from the manager, I outpaced her enough to start to feel more comfortable and explained this to her when I was begging her to leave me alone. I told her it would help calm me down, she sped up and as she got closer the panic started coming back and that was when I ran for the swamp.
The next day I received a phone call saying I was being fired for gross misconduct and they’d like me to come in for an exit interview. I went with my friend at my side.
They explained to me that I should have told them about my medical condition when I was hired because now they have no proof it actually exists.
Even though it said right on their application that they are not allowed to ask me questions about medical conditions and I do not have to disclose them. It had been over a year since my last one and I never thought working as a cashier would put me in a position to have one.
She told me they would waive the 3 month period I must wait in order to be rehired at walmart because of the special circumstances and I could begin work at another location immediately.
A year later with no job I became desperate and finally applied at another walmart location. That’s when I found out that not only did they not waive the 3 month period but they banned me from ever working at walmart again. I put on my applications now that I have no job experience because I don’t want to have to explain this situation to my future employers.