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I support Smart & Final's managers


In New Times Aug. 6 news section, the lead article chronicled a lawsuit against the Arroyo Grande Smart & Final brought by Sandra Prager Balsamo in response to her being asked to leave the store when she refused to wear the required mask ("Local Smart & Final sued for alleged discrimination over a face mask"). Ms. Balsamo's attorney, who is (coincidentally?) named Dennis Balsamo, says the suit isn't about wearing a mask: It's about discrimination against and embarrassment of a customer with health issues, who claimed to not to be able to wear a mask. The fact that she was potentially endangering all the rest of the customers did not seem to occur to either her or her representative/relative.

As a former RN and an elder with health concerns, I have been a regular customer of this particular Smart & Final because the management and workers have been such consistent enforcers of the appropriate measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 urged by the medical pundits. For the Balsamos to punish those who are acting to help others stay well by a pursuit, I imagine, of financial gain, is just wrong.

It is also suspect. There are a good number of groceries in our area that provide curb service to those customers who have health issues that prevent them from wearing masks or have disabilities. I know several families who use those services. I can't think of any reason Ms. Balsamo could not have gotten her needs met without a personal preference for in-store shopping having overridden her concern for others' well-being.

Take heart, managers of Smart & Final, there are hordes of people who appreciate your consistent and polite reinforcement of the only proven ways as yet for limiting the spread of this terrible virus until it is licked.

Istar Holliday

Arroyo Grande

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