Chris Koch, a motivational speaker born without arms and legs, came to Chicago last week to visit a young boy in need of some inspiration, but instead he says he found himself denied service at a downtown convenience store.
Koch says he was in Chicago to visit a boy who faced similar challenges in his young life, and says everything was going well until he visited a 7-Eleven location at Washington and Wells.
“The door is heavy, and I had a heck of a time getting it open,” said Koch. “Once I got it open, I get in there and the guy was working, he met me at the door and was like you trippin’ or something like that.”
Koch says he went to the back of the store where the refrigerator is located.
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“I could not reach what I wanted,” he said. “He (the clerk) comes around and he has his phone and takes my picture, then leaves. I went to the front and say 'hey, I cannot reach what I want, can you help me?' He says, ‘I am busy.’ I said, 'I just want to grab a drink and get going, can you help me out here?' He says, ‘I am busy.’ ”
Koch believes this happened to him because of his disability.
“It was at that point I said 'okay, he’s freaked out about me which is fine whatever,but treat me with some respect, some dignity,'” he said. “ I was pretty ticked off and informed him of what I thought of his character and I left. Did he post it (the picture) to mock me? Did he think I was some sort of threat ?”
Koch says that he did contact 7-Eleven following the incident. In a statement, the company told NBC-5:
"7-Eleven,Inc. is committed to creating an inclusive environment for customers, employees and franchisees. We take any claim like this very seriously and are investigating this further."
Gary Arnold is with Forest Park based Progress Center for Independent Living, and as America marks the 32nd anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, he says education and awareness are still as important as ever.
“Disability (as) an identity, that is important to us,” said Arnold. “In the end, what we need and want is the same as non-disabled people.”
Koch says he doesn’t want the worker fired – but he would like an apology and a promise that this won’t happen again.