WTAF?

Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.
— Donald Porter

We interrupt our regularly scheduled not blogging to bring you this breaking story:

I had a terrible experience at Nationals Park today. I know this is long, you guys, but please bear with me.

My office went to the game this afternoon. Because I am still nursing Maggie, I need to pump during my workday.  I usually pump three times during my day.  Because of this, I actually left for the game later than my co-workers so that I would only have to pump once at the ballpark. Before I went, I checked the Nationals website and saw that “nursing mothers are invited to use” the Family Restrooms or the Reagan Room. Because there was a Family Restroom located very near my seat in Section 136 that had an electrical outlet, and because time was of the essence – I needed to pump and leave the park promptly to pick up Maggie from daycare – I opted not to go across the park and upstairs to the Reagan Room, which is in Section 201. While I was a bit uncomfortable with the idea of occupying the restroom for at least 20 minutes, since the Nationals “invite” nursing mothers to use them for that purpose, I presume they have anticipated that they will occasionally be occupied for at least that length of time.

At approximately 3:50pm, I entered the Family Restroom located behind section 139 and locked the door. I used the restroom and then started to set up my breast pump. Almost even before I had everything hooked up — approximately 5 minutes after I entered — someone knocked on the door. I stated that the restroom was occupied.

A few moments later, someone tried the door and found it locked. I again repeated that someone was inside. From that point on, the knocking was nearly constant, no matter how many times I said the room was occupied.

The knocking turned to pounding, and the doorknob continued to rattle, and about 15 minutes after I entered, someone used the key to unlock the door from the outside and started to open it. I pushed it shut and locked it again. I said, “I am pumping breast milk for my baby. Please leave me alone.” They did not. They continued to pound on the door and rattle the doorknob.

By that point, I was actually scared. The piped in game audio in the bathroom was very loud, so, because of my hearing impairment, I don’t know what, if anything, the people on the other side of the door were saying to me. But, for my part, I repeatedly stated (yelled, ultimately) that the room was occupied and I identified at least three times what I was doing inside. I repeatedly asked that I be left alone and my requests were ignored. I eventually said, “I will be finished in 5 minutes,” to no avail. A few minutes later, I said, “I’m almost finished, I will be done in 2 minutes. Please leave me alone.” It continued.

When I was finally finished, after approximately 25 minutes in the restroom, I opened the door to find at least 5 employees standing outside staring at me. In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that my reaction to them was one of anger. I yelled that I had been pumping breast milk for my baby, and that I was sure they wouldn’t have preferred that I do so right out on the concourse. I then left, because, as I said, I needed to leave promptly, but I wish I had had the time to get the employees’ names and speak to a supervisor immediately.

I am unbelievably angry about the way I was treated. I repeatedly stated that the room was occupied and what I was doing and asked to be left alone, but the employees continued to act in a harassing manner. The pounding on the door and rattling the doorknob, not to mention the attempted entry, made me fearful.

I tweeted a condensed version of this story to the Nationals this afternoon, but after several hours, have not received any acknowledgement whatsoever. I also sent a message through their website, but I was limited to 3000 characters, so I couldn’t say everything I wanted to. I will follow up with a call tomorrow.

I have asked for an explanation for what happened, an apology, and assurance that they will make clear to their employees that what happened to me is not acceptable. I told them that nursing mothers come in all kinds – some nurse exclusively, some pump exclusively, and some – like me – must do both, and needing to pump shouldn’t interfere with my ability to attend a baseball game. If the Family Restrooms are available for nursing mothers to nurse, there is no reason they shouldn’t also be available for nursing mothers to pump.

We’ll see what happens.

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2 thoughts on “WTAF?

  1. Hi, I’m on the VHC listserv. I found your message about your experience yesterday so so disturbing. I hope, at least, that sharing with everyone via the listserv and on your blog is helping you process it. I was searching for more information on Nats park/breastfeeding and your blog post came up on the second page of Google results. Unfortunately, it sounds like your experience is along the lines of what others have experience and shared online. 😦 My company is having their employee picnic there next month, and while it won’t be during a regular game and I don’t anticipate having to nurse (baby is now 12 mo and not interested in nursing when there 75,468 other interesting things to do and see), if I have the opportunity to bring it up with anyone, I will. I hope someone at Nationals Park gets back to you. Keep us updated.

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